Navigating FamilySearch Browsable Images
This page is designed to help eliminate dread and fear of the "Browse Images" function in the FamilySearch Historical Records Collection.
FIRST, What is the FamilySearch Historical Records Collection?
It is the collection of records which have been digitized and are now available online and accessible from the opening page of the FamilySearch website. It includes both indexed records and those which are browsable.
SECOND, What are FamilySearch browsable images?
Browsable images are records that have not yet been indexed for the computer search engines by FamilySearch. Since the images were digitized from the microfilm and microfiche records at the Family History Library, they have the same look as the records on microfilm with the only difference being that an arrow is clicked to turn pages rather than turning the handle of a microfilm reader. Therefore, if a set of records on microfilm includes an index, the browsable images will include that same index.
The following are examples of "browse images" records and how to navigate them:
- Example 1
1. Click on the link above. Then click on Browse through 6,997,828 images and you will see a list of counties.
2. After clicking on a county; Columbiana, for instance, you will see a list of records much the same as you would in the FamilySearch Catalog.
3. Scroll down to "Wills, 1853-1864 vol. 1" and click on the link. You will see an image containing the numbers 931585. Above the image, you will see a dark gray navigation bar. It tells you you are on image 1 of 324. (This means this particular collection has 324 images.) On the right side of the toolbar, you will see icons and words for Print, Download, and Tools. Just above the navigation bar, look at the light gray bar. You will find the name of the database, the county, and the name of the particular record.
4. The box after the word "Image" will now become your best friend as you begin your search.
5. To learn if there is an index for this particular volume of Wills, type the number 5 in the box next to the word "Image" and press your enter key. This will help you forward ahead a little faster. You may also click the right arrow several times until you get to the first actual page of the record.
6. On image 7 you will notice there is the beginning of an index for this set of wills. Note that Jesse Allen is on page 624. How is that possible since there are only 324 images? Ah, but notice that there are two filmed images on each page.
7. Very important! You do NOT need to turn each page because now the game begins! See how mathematically oriented you are. Make a guess as to how far ahead you believe the needed 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 page of 624. It only took three clicks to get there. If you land close to the page, you could then turn pages one by one using the arrows at the far right side of the page or jump ahead or behind in increments of 5's or 10's.
- Example 2
1. Click on the Browse Images link and you will come to a page with two sets of years. 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.
2. The next screen breaks the alphabet up into smaller segments. If your your great grandmother's last name was Smith, click on the link "Rounsfell, Charles - Z."
3. You are now facing a black boxed screen with a light gray strip at the top in which you will read the name of the database, the county, the name of the particular record, the word "Image" followed by a box and how many total images are in the collection. To the far far right are two arrows located above the words "Save" and "Print."
4. The box next to the word "Image" will now be the key to finding the record quickly.
5. Note that this section has 748 images. Wow! how will you ever find your great grandmother Smith? To begin, you might start in the middle of the images and type 400 in the box next to the word "Image" and press your enter key. This takes you to a page that begins with the name Timarnoff, so it is too far. Try again with the number 200 which begins with the name Smalley. You might then 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 or jump ahead or behind in increments of 5's or 10's.
- Example 3
1. Click on the "Browse Images" link and you will see an alphabetical surname index for this database. You might have an ancestor with the surname of Hallam, so click on the link for Hall-Ham.
2. At the next page you will see a black boxed screen with a light gray strip at the top in which you will read the name of the database, the county, the name of the particular record, the word "Image" followed by a box and how many total images are in the collection. To the far far right are two arrows located above the words "Save" and "Print."
3. Don't be overwhelmed by the fact that there are over 5,000 images in this section. The box next to the word "Image" will help you divide and conquer.
4. To divide and conquer, divide the images in half and type the number 2500 in the box next to the word "Image" and press your enter key. The card which appears on the screen is for James Halthame which is a little too far, so next divide again and try the number 1200. This card is for Wm. Hall which is closer to the name Hallam so you might just jump up a little farther by typing 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 or behind in increments of 5's or 10's.
To access available information, first log into FamilySearch.