New Updates to the Family History Library Catalog

October 31, 2013  - by 

The new, online Family History Library Catalog has several features that users have been waiting for. These changes should help make it easier to use the catalog and help searches be more productive.

Display Additional Places

In the old catalog, when you land on a place that does not have any titles, you are shown a list of similar places that do have titles. For example, if you search for New Amsterdam and find nothing, the old catalog suggests you look in New York instead.

The new catalog now has this same feature.

Searc Results for FHLC 1












The new catalog also shows the place notes, the “also known as” place names, and the “part of” places and “places within,” as the old catalog does. Here is an example for the Azores.

Searc Results for FHLC 2














Display the Main Author in Bold Type

Titles in our catalog can have more than one author. The name of the main author is now displayed in bold:

New York Albany 3










Names of Catalog Searches

The names of the catalog searches are now the same as they were in the old catalog:

Search by 4











Hide Catalog Places without Titles

There are some places in our catalog for which the Family History Library does not contain any titles. We have hidden these places instead of letting users conduct a place search for a place that we know will have no results.

Display Order for Volumes and Issues in a Serial Periodical

You can now see the bound volumes and issues presented in the order specified in the computer system that is used to create and manage the catalog (OLIB).

Subjects 5

















Title Search includes Subtitles and Inclusive Dates

When you conduct a title search, the system now finds your search term in subtitles. Previously, it looked only in the titles:

Search for Results 6







If you include a year, it will also search the “inclusive” dates. You must enter either the first or last year. It won’t find a date in the middle of the range.

For example, if you search for Barron 1877, you will find this:

Search for Results 7







If I search for Barron 1878, it finds nothing, even though 1878 is between 1877 and 1907.

Search for Results 8




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  1. The new updates are great but we need 1 more. I miss the ability to click on a microfilm number & get a list of the film’s contents item-by-item. I need to know what is on a microfilm item-by-item, not just that my desired information is there as Item 4.

    It really helps when you are reading films in a foreign language to be able to identify each item as you scroll through it. The tape I was recently using didn’t have “item1”, “item2” labels. Instead there was just a single page that was the beginning of the item and it listed only its contents (e.g. taufen 1723-1800, tote … — note no place designation). If I knew the contents of each item I would be more certain I could find the correct information to read.

    Another example is the censuses from Schleswig-Holstein. I wouldn’t guess the correct notation for the German equivalent of enumeration districts but I can certainly recognize the ones that will help me. Having the list of the items on the film means I can get in the correct geographic area by what I already know (i.e. 1 town name) and can recognize the additional items I also need to read. Having to imagine those additional labels isn’t something that is easy to do and so looking them up in the catalog isn’t easy either.


    1. I agree with Janis & Rosemarie about the item number breakdown. I’ve preferred to go to the old catalog link because of the breakdown it had in the film notes. I would print out the breakdown & take it with me to the FHL so I could jot down notes of what I found in the different items on the film.

      It also makes it easier when I’m trying to cite a film as a source that I can put the item #(s) in the citation so that someone looking at it later can save time & go directly to the item on the film instead of going through the whole thing.

    1. Yes, I agree Patj. This is probably the one thing I have missed the most from the old catalog. It helped so much to be able to see the related places for information.

  2. As of a few days ago I can not get a search result for a microfilm number in the new catalog version. It says Search Results for FamilySearch Catalog / 1-1 of 1 results but there is no result (link to actual listing).

    At least the old version still works.

    Please reverse the code changes that prevent display of catalog search results in FF24 and IE9.

    Thank you.

  3. This is a wonderful addition. I agree with Janis that the content of the microfilm would be most useful if made available by item. In some cases this will determine if the patron will order the film as they may find additional information on the film. Also the item number is the one reason that I often revert to the old on-line catalog and especially when dealing with foreign languages.

  4. The Family History Library Catalog used to show the Family History Centers that held, on Indefinite Loan, the specific film number that was of interest to the patron. This is important information to have, for anyone fortunate enough to live near multiple FHCs, as I do. It is more economical & expedient to visit a local FHC that already holds the film or films than it is to order them.

    1. I completely agree with the requests for information about the items in microfilm, where there are a number of different items. I would also like to plea for more information to be given genereally about the content of films. As an example,
      “Madras army muster, quarterly, annual and casualty rolls, 1762-1907”

      It is advised this is a collection of 41 microfilms of India Office Collection no.: L/MIL/11/109-276 at the British Library.
      If for example I want to look at the records for the Unattached List, I can see from the British Library catalogue that the records I want are IOR/L/MIL/11/232-276

      These records fall within the records noted to have been filmed .However the description of the 41 microfilms does not include which particular British Library records they contain, and has no reference to Unattached List.

      Is it expected I guess?

      This was also a problem with the old catalogue and I cannot see that the recent changes introduced improve the situation.


  5. This is a good start, but the work is not done yet. There is functionality available to the staff in OLIB Worldview that was never provided to the public, such as the ability to see only records modified or added after a particular date. This functionality is very much needed when one has ancestors from a large city (such as New York City) and the research need is just to see what materials the FHL has added for that locality recently.

  6. Hide Catalog Places without Titles

    Wouldn’t it be better to just give a negative result straight off than have people wasting time still looking for something they’re not going to find ?

  7. Item #’s are not in the # order now — they have been alphabetized. Who would have thought to sort them that way? Maybe a non-genealogist that has never used them? Put a film # in the “search by film/fiche number” and yes, you DO see the items but they are useless because they don’t show the item NUMBER. Oh well, when a patron says their film received is not what they ordered, at least we can show them something now, even if it isn’t really useful to them. They need to know what item # their subject is in.

  8. I all the time used to read paragraph in news papers but now as I am
    a user of internet therefore from now I am using net for articles, thanks to web.

    1. I would use and call Research Support at 1-866-406-1830 for specific help on finding places