Introduction to the FamilySearch Catalog

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The FamilySearch Catalog (previously known as the Family History Library Catalog) describes the genealogical resources held by, the Family History Library, and other designated FamilySearch Centers or Libraries.

The Catalog is a guide to family histories; birth, marriage, and death records; census records; church registers; books, periodicals and many other records that may contain genealogical information. These records may be in a book, on microfiche or microfilm, searchable online or in a computer file.

Most microfilm and microfiche records can be sent to your nearest Family History Center. If a particular item is available at another FamilySearch Center besides the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, then a pull-down menu will indicate the locations where the item is available.

What Is the FamilySearch Catalog?

FHL Catgalog search options.jpg

The FamilySearch Catalog is available at (Previous versions of the catalog were released on compact disc and on microfiche, but those versions are significantly outdated, and do not list films acquired after the publication date on the disc or microfiche.)

Before you use the FamilySearch Catalog, choose a person about whom you want to find more information, and decide what you want to learn about him or her. For example, you may want to find your great-grandmother's death date and place. To do this, you need to decide what types of records are likely to contain that information.

Which Catalog Search Should I Try?

The type of search you should do is determined by the kind of catalog entries or records you want to find. Click on the name of each search to learn more.

Use the following table to determine what type of search to do:

Do This Type of Search:

To Find the Following Types of Catalog Entries:

Place-name Search

Look for a record by the name of a place (locality) where an ancestor lived.

Surname Search

Find family histories (and more) by a particular family name.

Keyword Search

Get a record using any words or phrases in significant parts of its catalog entry. 

Title Search

Find a record by its title.

Film/Fiche Search

See catalog details by finding the Library's microfilm or microfiche number. 

Author Search

To find the works of an author by his name (individual or corporate).

Subject Search

To discover works based on the topics they cover.

Call Number Search

See catalog entries by finding their book, compact disc, or pedigree call number.

When It's Not in the Catalog

Before concluding it is not in the FamilySearch Catalog try the following strategies:

  • Look again in Surname Search for variations of the family name.
  • Change the jurisdiction in Place Search. For example, if it is not at the county level, try again under the town, state, or national levels, or in neighboring counties and towns.
  • Try a variety of searches. Use a Keyword Search, Subject Search, Author Search, or Title Search.
  • Try again later. The Family History Library is constantly acquiring new materials.

Try other repositories. Many other libraries and archives have information about ancestors. Try their online catalogs to see if they have what you need. For example, try catalogs like the WorldCat (world's largest network of online content and services), or the Daughters of the American Revolution Online Library Catalog.

If a repository's catalog is not online, try contacting them by phone or mail to learn if they have records about an ancestor. For a directory of U.S. historical genealogical societies see  For a list of various kinds of libraries and archives try

Search the Internet. Many records are being digitized and put on the Internet. Search engines like Google, or Yahoo can help locate information. Also the Family History Library Internet Favorites can help find useful genealogical Internet sites.

Related Content

FamilySearch Catalog Overview (11 minute online video)