Introduction to the FamilySearch Catalog

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What Is the Family History Library Catalog?

The Family History Library Catalog describes the records in the collection at the Family History Library. It is a guide to family histories; birth, marriage, and death records; census records; church registers; and many other records that may contain genealogical information. These records may be in a book, on microfiche or microfilm, or in a computer file. Most microfilm and microfiche records can be sent to your nearest Family History Center.

The catalog is available at

Before you use the Family History Library 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.

What 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 Search

For research or records about people of a locality where an ancestor lived.

Surname Search

For works primarily about a family, or about an individual.

Keyword Search

To find selected words in various significant parts of a catalog entry.

Title Search

For records by words in their titles.

Film/Fiche Search

Catalog entries that have a certain 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

Catalog entries that have a certain book, compact disc, or pedigree call number.

What If I Do Not Find the Catalog Entries I Want?

You may not find the catalog entries you want for various reasons. Before concluding that the catalog does not have any entries you want, try the following strategies:

  • Be sure your search terms are correct.
  • Broaden your search term(s).
  • Use a Keyword Search, an Author Search, or another type of search.

Note: The Family History Library does not have all records. The Library is constantly acquiring new materials. If you cannot find the items you need, check the catalog at a later date to see if the library has acquired those items.