Browse-only databases at FamilySearch are easy to use and may hold the key to the genealogy brick wall you have been working on. Don’t be scared off because the records haven’t been indexed. Let us show you how to take advantage of these great records!

Each week, we bring you our Friday records roundup articles, where we recap new and updated genealogy records collections and databases available online. Sometimes, we include FamilySearch databases that are not yet indexed. These collections are referred to as browse-only.

Have you been disappointed when you realize the database you are most interested in is only able to be browsed?  

Browse Only Databases at FamilySearch are Easy to Use
You may be thinking, “Good grief! I can’t possibly browse thousands of records!” and we don’t expect you to.

Browse Only Databases are Easy to Find

Most of us search for genealogy records at FamilySearch by typing in some key information at the home page. (Image right)

When you use this method, you are only searching for records that have been indexed. In other words, there may be thousands of records you want on the site, but you won’t find them. They have not been indexed by a searchable name.

Instead, you need to go in the virtual “back door.”

Let’s imagine you want to search probate records in Auglaize County, Ohio. You would click the little map in the vicinity of the United States and choose “Ohio” from the pop-up box.

At the Ohio research page, you could do a general search of the Ohio collections. Again, this is only searching records that have been indexed. Instead, scroll down until you see “Ohio Image Only Historical Records.” Look at all these databases you might have missed!
For our example, continue to scroll down until you see the database titled “Ohio Probate Records, 1789-1996” near the bottom. Click on it.

You will notice right away that there is no way to “search” this database. Many people give up at this point, after all, who has time to search nearly 7,000,000 records.

Click on it anyway!

The next screen has been broken down by county name. Choose the county name “Auglaize.” You are then directed to a page listing the volumes of records for Auglaize county that have been digitized.
Bonds, settlements, wills, estates, and so much more! It is as if you are standing in the courthouse probate office surrounded by volumes and volumes of records you need. Pick the volume you want to search by clicking the title.

“Open” the pages of the book and search like you would as if you were flipping the pages of a book or scrolling through a roll of microfilm.

The browse-only collections at FamilySearch are often overlooked, but just might be the key to finding your missing ancestor. So the next time you’ve got some spare time for genealogy, flip through these pages and you just might make an amazing discovery. 

More Genealogy Gems on Records and Databases at FamilySearch

Friends, we want you to get excited about all the new records that are coming online, even if they are browse-only databases. We’d love it if you would share this tip with your genie friends! Here are some featured browse-only collections featured in our weekly records roundup:

For more tips and tricks to help you in your genealogy journey, and to get our weekly roundup of new records delivered right to your inbox, sign-up for our free weekly email newsletter by clicking here.

This article was originally published on June 28, 2016 and updated on April 15, 2019. 

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