Content & Strategies for Effective Use

by Gerhard Ruf
© copyright 2001-2006
partially updated 8 Oct 2006


    Since its inception in March of 1999, the FamilySearch Internet Genealogy Service has grown to include nearly 1 billion records of individuals and gone through some major structural and content changes. Its search tools have become more effective and its offering of focused genealogical research guidance provides a significant benefit for both amateur and professional genealogists. Members of the LDS Church now have access to Temple Ordinance data and 1880 US and 1881 England Census images.

  1. The Home Tab
    1. Welcome - registering, news, download PAF or PAF Companion, Search, Get Started, Preserve, etc.
    2. News - keep track of what is happening at and new Church CD products
    3. FamilySearch Questions - now has 7 sections with 3 to 13 questions and their answers
    4. Product Support - questions and answers on 25 products (email and chat access)
    5. Order or Download Products - takes you to the online LDS catalog
      1. Download the latest version of PAF and other free products and upgrades
      2. Order other genealogical products

  2. The Search Tab (7 areas, plus ALL to search)
    1. Search for Ancestors - search in seven areas individually or all areas simultaneously
          (items b - h include over 957,000,000 records)
      1. All Resources - more effective search criteria for web pages
      2. Ancestral File - over 35 million individuals
      3. Census - over 85 million entries (1880 US, 1881 British & 1881 Canadian)
            1880 US Census images are viewable for free to registered members of the LDS Church
      4. International Genealogical Index - well over 760 million names
            Includes access to temple ordinance dates for registered members of the LDS church
            (See addendum for registration instructions)
            This is the ONLY source for ordinances completed since Jan 2000
      5. Pedigree Resource File - over 130 million names
            The index includes all the submitted data except notes, sources and ordinances
      6. US Social Security Death Index (through 1998)
      7. Vital Records Index (includes Mexico and Scandinavian Indexes - more will be added)
      8. Web Sites - over 30,000 web pages cataloged

    2. Research Guidance - the single most helpful feature of the site
          This is like having a genealogist advise you.
      1. Helps you both focus and broaden your search for family history information
      2. How to begin, tracing immigrant ancestors, organizing your files, etc.
      3. Decide on what specific information you desire and let it help you determine what types records are available
      4. Search by location, type of event and date to find types of records available
      5. Prioritizes types of records to search
      6. Links to references and resources available in the Family History Library Catalog

    3. Research Helps - most of these items were in the Source Guide on CD
      1. Includes Research Outlines, Research Guides, Forms, Word Lists, and more
      2. May be sorted by place, title, subject or document type.
      3. Many items may be ordered or read, saved or printed if you have Adobe Acrobat Reader

    4. Web Sites
      1. Search these by names, location and or category
      2. Indexed into 16 categories, and browse by category

    5. Family History Library Catalog - expanded searching ability
      1. Search by place, keyword, surname, author, subject, title, call number, film/fiche number
      2. New acquisitions are now added daily
      3. More up to date than the version at your local Family History Center

  3. The Share Tab - requires registration (1,230,000 registered) See addendum for instructions
    1. Collaboration Email Lists - (198,000 lists)
      1. Find or create lists by name, location, ethnic group, etc.
      2. Using them effectively

    2. Share My Genealogy - (Submit to Pedigree Resource Files)
      1. Why and when to share your research results
      2. Uploading your GEDCOM or ZIPped GEDCOM file
      3. Keep track of the status of your submission(s)

  4. The Library Tab
    1. Family History Library information (including FamilySearch Center in JSMB)
      1. Hours, floor plans, classes and other services, rules, donations, etc.
      2. Preparing for a visit to the library
      3. Ask questions

    2. Family History Centers - locate one of the more than 4,000 FHCs
    3. Family History Library Catalog - same access as under Search tab
    4. Education - a comprehensive list of educational services from the library and others
      1. Classes and publications by the FHL
      2. Genealogical Conferences and Institutes
      3. University and Home Study Courses

  5. Additional Items


How the website is organized
Home Search Share Library
  Family History Library
  News and Events
  Start Searching
  Get Started
  What's New
  Facts and Statistics
  News Releases
  FamilySearch Media Kit
  Family History Lib Media Kit
  Other Family History News
  Free Video
FamilySearch Questions
  Search for Ancestors
  Share Information
  Family History Library
  Family History Centers
  Sign On/Registration
Product Support
  Internatl Genealogical Index
  Census Records
  PAF 3.0
  PAF 4.0
  PAF 5.0
  PAF for Macs
  Personal Ancestral File Comp
  1851 British Census
  1880 US Census
  1881 British Census
  1881 Canadian Census
  Australian Vital Records
  British Isles Vital Records
  Middle America Vital Records
  North American Vital Records
  Scandinavian Vital Records
  Western Europe Vital Records
  Fam Hist Center Inventory Mgr
  Fam Hist Lib Cat for Win
  Fam Hist Resource File Viewer
  Family History Source Guide
  Freedman's Bank Records
  Mormon Immigration Index
  Pedigree Resource File
Order or Download Products
Search for Ancestors
  All Resources
  Ancestral File
  International Genealogical Index
  Pedigree Resource File
  US Social Security Death Index
  Vital Records Index
  Search Fam Hist Web Sites
Research Guidance
Research Helps
  Search by Place
  Search by Title
  Search by Subject
  Search by Document Type
Web Sites
  Browse Fam Hist Web Sites
     Census and Lists
     Court and Legal Records
     Cultural and Religious Groups
     Family Histories & Genealogy
     Key Genealogical Sites
     Land and Property
     Record Keepers
     Research Support
     Royalty and Nobility
     Services and Tools
     Surnames and Family Orgs
     Vital Records
  Search Family History Web Sites
Family History Library Catalog
  Search the Catalog
     Place Search
     Surname Search
     Keyword Search
     Title Search
     Film/Fiche Search
     Author Search
     Subject Search
     Call Number Search
  Use Research Guidance
Sign On Screen
  Sign On
  I Have Forgotten my User Name
  I Need to Register
Collaboration E-Mail Lists
  My Collaboration E-Mail Lists
  Create a New E-Mail List
     Specific Ancestor
  Search E-Mail Lists
Share My Genealogy
  Why Share My Genealogy?
  What Is Done With My Genealogy?
  How Do I Submit My Genealogy?
  Submit My Genealogy
  Check the Status of My Submission
Family History Library
  About the Family History Library
  Hours and Holidays
  Key Resources
  Library Rules
  Floor Plan
  History of the Library
  FamilySearch Center
  Record Collections
  Gifts and Donations
  Preparing to Visit the Library
  Group Visits
  Visiting Salt Lake City
  Frequently Asked Questions
  Contact Us
  Send us an Email
  Family History Library Media Kit
Family History Centers
  Find a Family History Center
  About Family History Centers
  Frequently Asked Questions
  Contact Us
  Family History Websites
  Family History Products
Family History Library Catalog
  Search the Catalog
     Place Search
     Surname Search
     Keyword Search
     Title Search
     Film/Fiche Search
     Author Search
     Subject Search
     Call Number Search
  Use Research Guidance
  Education and Training
  Family History Library Classes
  Family History Library Publications
  Research Guidance
  Genealogical Conferences
  Genealogical Institutes
  University and Home-Study Courses

Return to Gerhard's list of classes, or the UVPAFUG Internet Course Outline page.

Return to Gerhard and Deon's Home Page.



For First-Time Registrants

  1. Go to
  2. Click on either the Share tab or the words "sign on" in the upper right area of the screen.
  3. Click on "I need to register" in the left area of the screen.
  4. Enter the required information on the form.
    1. All fields preceded by an asterisk (*) must have data entered.
    2. Entering your membership record number and confirmation date (available from your ward clerk) unlocks access to the ordinance feature for you.
    3. Make up and enter a User Name and password that you can easily remember.
          Don't forget to note your selected User Name and password for future access.
    4. You must have an email address to register. If you do not have one, you can set up a free web-based email account at web sites like,, or many other web sites.
  5. Click the Register button at the bottom of the screen.
  6. The resulting screen indicates if your registration was successful or it will display a message in red indicating an error on the form.
  7. If your chosen User Name has been used by someone else, you will have to enter another one and click on the Register button again.

        Registration unlocks access to the Collaboration lists and allows submitting your GEDCOM file to the Pedigree Resource File. If you also enter valid membership information, you will have access to Ordinance data in the International Genealogical Index and free access to 1880 US Census images.

* * * * * * * * * *

  Adding Your Membership Information - For Previously Registered Individuals
  1. Go to
  2. Click on either the Share tab or the words "sign on" in the upper right area of the screen.
  3. Enter your User Name and Password, place a check mark in the box preceding "I am a member ...", and click on the Sign On button.
  4. Add your membership record number and confirmation date in the fields provided and update any other information previously provided.
  5. Click on the Register button at the bottom of the screen.

This page has been accessed times since 8 Jan 01.