Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Make the Family History Library Catalog SING for you!

The up-to-date copy of this post will be maintained at

Start at Click the SEARCH tab, and then the Family History Library Catalog tab, or bypass the first two steps by going directly to:

Not all browsers will load an .asp page directly, so I give the alternate steps. Once you are there, click Place Search, then type the name of the village in the top box. Leave the bottom box empty. Once you get the results, be sure to investigate all the possible good options. If you want to keep that original results page open, right-click on the various options given, and choose to open in a new tab or new window. That helps me keep organized!

Once you get a list of what is available, there are a couple of interesting options that many people overlook. I put in "strasbourg" as an example, and here are the results:

Place France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg
References (Use for) France, Bas-Rhin, La Robertsau
Topics France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Archives and libraries - Handbooks, manuals, etc.
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Archives and libraries - Inventories, registers, catalogs
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Biography
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Church history
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Church records
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Civil registration
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Court records
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Genealogy
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Heraldry
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - History
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Naturalization and citizenship
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Nobility
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Nobility - Genealogy
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Notarial records
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Occupations
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Politics and government
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Population
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Probate records
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Schools
France, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg - Social life and customs

Of course, there are endless possibilities just in THAT list -- it could keep you busy for a long, long time. But look up on the top right -- there is a button called View Related Places. In this case, it doesn't give spectacular results -- the only choice is France, Bas Rhin, which yields:

Place France, Bas-Rhin
References (Use for) France, Rhin (Bas)
Topics France, Bas-Rhin - Archives and libraries - Indexes
France, Bas-Rhin - Archives and libraries - Inventories, registers, catalogs
France, Bas-Rhin - Archives and libraries - Inventories, registers, catalogs - Indexes
France, Bas-Rhin - Biography
France, Bas-Rhin - Census
France, Bas-Rhin - Chronology
France, Bas-Rhin - Church directories
France, Bas-Rhin - Church history
France, Bas-Rhin - Church records
France, Bas-Rhin - Church records - Bibliography
France, Bas-Rhin - Church records - Inventories, registers, catalogs
France, Bas-Rhin - Civil registration - Bibliography
France, Bas-Rhin - Civil registration - Indexes
France, Bas-Rhin - Dwellings
France, Bas-Rhin - Emigration and immigration
France, Bas-Rhin - Emigration and immigration - Guidebooks
France, Bas-Rhin - Emigration and immigration - Indexes
France, Bas-Rhin - Gazetteers
France, Bas-Rhin - Genealogy
France, Bas-Rhin - Genealogy - Periodicals
France, Bas-Rhin - Genealogy - Periodicals - Indexes
France, Bas-Rhin - Heraldry
France, Bas-Rhin - History
France, Bas-Rhin - History - Periodicals
France, Bas-Rhin - Jewish records
France, Bas-Rhin - Land and property
France, Bas-Rhin - Land and property - Inventories, registers, catalogs
France, Bas-Rhin - Maps
France, Bas-Rhin - Military records
France, Bas-Rhin - Minorities
France, Bas-Rhin - Names, Personal
France, Bas-Rhin - Notarial records
France, Bas-Rhin - Officials and employees - History
France, Bas-Rhin - Schools
France, Bas-Rhin - Taxation

The other special button that lots of people overlook is the View Film Notes button, once you have found the listing for the film you want to order. Click that Film Notes button, and you will find out *exactly* what is on the film you are proposing to order. This is where you find the number you need to take with you to the Family History Center. In fact, I often print out that entire page, so that when the film finally arrives, I know JUST what I'm looking for. To get the "printable version", click the link in the bottom sentence, For a printable version of this record click here then click your browser's Print button.

You can make the FHL Catalog sing for you! The more you use it, the easier it is to hear that siren song. :-)

Fred H. Held has a great hint -- consider collateral villages as well as collateral relatives. Fred says, "Several times I have found my village of interest data on a nearby village microfilm." He continues, "The immediate thought is to reach for a good map and check the LDS FHL catalog to see if the surrounding villages have records that might help me. Unfortunately, the German practice of consolidating village administrations has resulting in many villages disappearing from the detailed maps.

"There is a better way. Those old village names are still recorded in the ShtetlSeeker search engine database ( In addition, there is a little used ShtetlSeeker feature that will list ALL those old village names starting with a central point (your village of interest). (Look at the last line at the bottom of the web page.) It is now a simple task to cut the name from the list and paste it into the FHL catalog place name search engine.

"This is also useful when your ancestral village is Evangelische and your ancestral family was Catholic, or vice versa. To find the closest village with the desired church, do exactly the same exercise." - Post to 10 Sep 2004 [note: This hint will not help you in France; just in Germany and further East. For the Alsace, you can use the Alsabase village map instead. Click: Bas-Rhin - Haut-Rhin.]

More about using your local FHC:

To get to the free Research Guides, such as the one for France, either start at the top and work down (How do I get Started, > Resources > Research Helps), or go to: and click Research Outline, and download the PDF file you want. These are GREAT!

I borrowed from all, without any exception.
I am sewn between ancestry and posterity.
I am a drop of water in a flowing river of time; a molecule in a
mountain; a cell in a great family tree.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes

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