Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Friday, May 6, 2016

The FamilySearch Catalog, WorldCat and ArchiveGrid -- Part Three

Expanding your use of the Catalog

So far I have suggested that the Catalog can be used for locating items while in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah and for discovering other locations where those same items can be found if the user is not able to visit the Family History Library.  I have also suggested that the Catalog is a "finding aid" to locating the same items in other libraries or in finding digital copies of the items we need on the Internet. Don't forget that microfilm can be ordered from and sent to a local Family History Center. In addition, you might try ordering unavailable items found in the catalog through Interlibrary Loan at your local library.

When I suggest that the Catalog can be a finding aid, I am thinking on several levels of usage. If you search the catalog beginning with a place, you will likely get a long list of categories of records. These are "cataloged" items. This means that a human cataloger has looked at the items listed and characterized their content in semi-arbitrary categories. Here is an example from the entry for Utah.

As you look at this list, you may begin to make judgments as to the applicability of the categories to your ancestor or ancestors. Exactly the opposite should occur. Unless and until you have looked at each category and determined whether or not your ancestor lived within the time period covered and geographic area covered by the items in the list, you should assume that every category is a potential source of records about your ancestor. For example, if I expand the category for Bible records, we see the following:

If your ancestor was born in the 1800s or could possibly have been or lived in Utah, you probably need to at least look at and study each of these three records. You cannot dismiss a record based on your evaluation that the record may not apply to your ancestor. The presumption has to be that the record may always apply.

Now, we focus on each of the categories. You can see that there are a huge variety of types of records that you can search for in the Catalog. In this case, you need to do some additional searching in each category on the Internet in general and specifically in the and ArchiveGrid websites. Here is an example of searching in the ArchiveGrid website for "Utah Genealogy."

There are over 7,000 items and it is very likely that there are items that you have not examined and/or do not know about.

Going back to the Catalog, you should extend you examination of categories of records and the individual records listed down through each included jurisdiction, from the United States, to the places within the United States, to each state where your family lived, to the counties and cities where available.

As I have mentioned previously, if you find an item of interest, be sure and run a Google search on the name or title of the item to see if there are additional items of interest out there in some other archive or library or digitized on the Web.

Since I am working in the Brigham Young University Family History Library now, I have learned to make sure the BYU Library does not already have a microfilm before ordering a copy from Salt Lake. You might want to check the pull-down list on any microfilm or do a search in you local library or Family History Center to see if they also have a copy of any given film.

Here are the previous posts on this subject.

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