Friday, October 6, 2017 - Viewing Scanned Microfilm

The big news recently is that Family Search has stopped allowing people to order microfilm of family history records to be sent to local family history centers. This has been the way people have done a large amount of genealogical research over the past few decades. So now that they've stopped, what do you do now? Well, most of these microfilms are still available to you and most of those that are not available now, will be in the next couple of years.

So, let's say I wanted to do more research on my Brandstetter family in Renchen, Baden, Germany. Before last month, I could go to the Family Search catalog, order the microfilm, pay a $7.50 fee for the shipping and wait a few weeks for it to be delivered to my local LDS church, where it would stay for a couple of months so I could look through it. Now, what would I do? Pretty much the same thing.

First, go to Family Search, and click on Search, Catalog.

Then, enter the location you want to research in the search box.
The site will automatically fill in the remainer of your search. Select the appropriate location, then press search.
What comes up is a listing of resources available.

Click the resource you want to examine and you'll see the microfilms that are available.
In the list shown above, you see two different icons. One is a film roll. For these films, it indicates that they have not been scanned. Some of these will be scanned as the scanning project gets closer to being done. Unfortunately, some of them won't be scanned and they'll only be available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. I've heard you can call Family Search and put in a request to put a film onto higher priority. I understand that all films ordered over the past five years have already been scanned. The rest will be done by the end of 2020.

The other icon shown above is a camera with a key above it. To view these films, you'll need to visit your local family history center. These can be found at most LDS churches. If you visit an LDS church and ask for their family history center, they'll either show you the one on their property or direct you to another nearby LDS church.

The other icon you'll see, and the one you'll want to see more than any other, is the camera without a key. This means the film has been digitized and is available for you to view right then and there, from your home computer. Many of the records will not be found in the standard Search Records function on the Family Search page because they have not yet been indexed, but you'll still be able to view them in a similar fashion to viewing the microfilm at the family history center. Given enough time, these will be indexed, but "enough time" is likely to be years, if not decades. Remember, they're scanning in over one thousand microfilms per day. Can you imagine how much indexing needs to be done? While we're on the subject, please be sure to volunteer to index their scanned documents by clicking the "Indexing" option at the top of their web page!


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