The databases included on Family Search are the Ancestral File, Pedigree Resource File, International Genealogical Index (IGI), Census Records, Vital Records Index and the Social Security Death Index. There are two ways that you can search these databases. The first is by conducting a search from the homepage. You can also select the "Advanced Search" link found at the bottom of the search engine on the home page. From the advanced search link you can choose individual databases to search. This is a great tool, especially in cases where you are researching a common name.
The Ancestral File is a collection of genealogical data that is taken from pedigree charts and family group sheets submitted to the Family History Department since 1978. While the information submitted is not verified, you can try to contact the submitter of the information for possible sources.
The Pedigree Resource File contains information submitted through the Family Search web site. Although the information you look at online contains just names and dates, you can order the Pedigree Resource File DVD to see what additional information was submitted. Additional information can include sources and notes as well as the name and address of the submitter. You can order a copy of the Pedigree Resource File DVD (much more handy that the 100's of CD's that it use to come on) through the Family Search web site. Click on "Order/Download Products" link found at the top of the home page. The DVD is $13.00.
The Vital Records Index currently includes vital records from Mexico and Scandinavia.
The International Genealogical Index (IGI) is perhaps one of the most helpful and one of the most talked about databases. The information from the IGI comes from two sources.
Transcribed information from three census' are available at Family Search: the 1880 United States Federal Census, the 1881 British Census, and the 1881 Canadian Census. Information extracted from these censuses includes name, occupations, and age. These are extracted lists so it is important that once you find your ancestor, to go look at the original image on a site like Ancestry.com. Because errors can occur in anything that is transcribed or extracted, consider consulting another resource if you do not find your ancestor in this database
Finally, the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is available through Family Search. The Social Security Death Index will help you find a person who was assigned a Social Security number and whose death was reported to Social Security. Most of the deaths found in the Index date from 1962 to the present.
Some tips for searching the Family Search databases:
Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2006.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.
*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.
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