Navigating FamilySearch Browsable Images

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This page is designed to help eliminate dread and fear of the "Browse Images" function in the FamilySearch Historical Records Collection.

First, you may ask "What is the FamilySearch Historical Records Collection?" It is the collection of records which have been digitized and are now available online. They are accesible from the opening page of FamilySearchThe The FamilySearch browsable images are set up much the same as they are on microfilm.  If a county or state record has an index, the browsable images will also have an index. The only difference is that an arrow button is clicked to turn pages rather than turning the handle on the microfilm reader.  The following are two examples of "browse images" records and how to navigate them:

  • Example 1

Ohio, Probate Records, 1790-1967 Click on the Browse Images link and you will see a list of counties. After clicking on a county; Columbiana, for instance, you will see a list of records much the same as you would in the Family History Library Catalog. Scroll down to "Wills, 1853-1864 vol. 1" and click on the link.  In the heading at the top of the box, there is the word "Image" and next to it is a box followed by how many total images there are. To see if there is an index for this particular volume of Wills, type the number 7 in the box next to the word Image and click "go. This will help you forward ahead a little faster. You will notice on Image 7, there is the beginning of an index for this set of wills. Not that Jesse Allen is on page 624. You do NOT need to turn each page. Merely, make a guess as to how far ahead you believe that image might be and type the number in the box next to the word Image. If you tried the number 300, you would notice this was page 588. You might then type in the number 310, which ends up at page 608. Then, try image 318 and VOILA! you are at the correct image. It only took three clicks to get there. If you land close to the page, you could then use the turn the page arrows found on the far right side of the heading box. If you are mathematically oriented, you might even calculate how many images it might take to arrive at your image destination.

  • Example 2

California Death Index, 1905-1939 Click on the Browse Images button and you will see two databases. One is for 1905-1929 and the other is for 1930-1939. You might have a great grandmother who died in 1918, so click on the 1905-1929 link. The next screen breaks the alphabet up into smaller segments. Perhaps your great grandmother's last name was Smith, so click on the link "Rounsfell, Charles - Z." Wow, there are 748 images, how will you ever find her? Perhaps you might start in the middle of the images and type 400 in the box next to the word "Image." That page begins with Timarnoff, so it is too far. Try again with the number 200 which begins with the name Smalley. You might try the number 250 which begins with the name Sparks. Next, go to 225 which is right in the middle of the Smith surnames. Now you can turn the page one by one using the turn the page arrows found on the far right side of the heading box.

  • Example 3

United States, Index to Passenger Arrivals, Atlantic and Gulf Ports, 1820-1874 Click on the Browse Images button and you will see an alphabetical surname index for this database. You might have an ancestor with the surname of Hallam. Click on the link for Hall-Ham and you will notice there are 5430 images. Try the middle of the images and type the number 2500 in the box next to the word "Image." The card is for James Halthame which is a little too far, so next try the number 1500. This card is for Mary Halleron, which is still a little too far. You might try the image number 1200 next which is at Wm. Hall. This is closer to the name Hallam so try the number 1300 and it lands at Elizabeth Hallam. From here you can use the page arrows found on the far right side of the heading box to arrive at the right first name or jump ahead in increments of 5's or 10's. You could also click the arrow one by one to browse all the Hallam names.