Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday Mailbox: Listing FamilySearch Indexed Collections

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxDear Ancestry Insider,

Does FS ever publish a list of what it has indexed on its site?

El Californio *

Dear El Californio,

Yes, although it is a little bit hidden.

1. Go to
2. Click on Search.
3. Scroll down to the bottom of the page.
4. Click on Browse All Published Collections.

This brings you to a list of all the collections, including those with indexes. Those without indexes are labeled “Browse Images.” You can fine tune this list in a couple of ways. Use the Filter box on the left; type in the name of a country or state. To separate the indexed collections from the Browse-only collections, click the column header, Records. This sorts the collections according to the number of records, with the largest collections at the top.

There is a lag between when a collection is indexed and when it is published. I don’t know how long that is. Someone told me that if a project takes longer than 10 months, FamilySearch will go ahead and publish as much as has been completed. Have any of you noticed how long it has taken on a collection you have indexed?

Just because a collection is not indexed, don’t ignore it. Indexers are not able to keep up with FamilySearch’s acquisition of new records (and publication of vault microfilms), so there are plenty of valuable collections waiting for you to discover. Just because FamilySearch hasn’t indexed the collection, doesn’t mean the original clerk didn’t. Open up the collection and browse into the records. You often find photographs of an index that will give you the page number you need to find a record. Page numbers and image numbers don’t match however, so it takes a little bit of trial and error to find the page. See “Browsing an Image-Only Collection” for instructions.

The Ancestry Insider


  1. "Someone told me that if a project takes longer than 10 months, FamilySearch will go ahead and publish as much as has been completed"

    That's fine if FS tell us that the collection is only a part. But if they don't, then we are liable to put entirely the wrong interpretation on a nil-return search. For instance, if I get a nil response when looking for someone's baptism in Cheshire then, because I know that county is complete (because Chester Record Office have said so), then I can say that a negative result means they weren't baptised into the Church of England in Cheshire.

    But if I get a negative result when looking for someone's baptism in another county, what does it mean? Are we 99% certain they weren't baptised in that county? Only 10% certain?

    I did try following the project completion percentages. For instance, on "" we see that "UK, Essex - Parish Registers 1538-1900 [Part A]" is 99% indexed. But there's no definition of what the parts are - I don't know how many parts Essex will have - or what's in them...

    I mailed the FS Support team about whether the parts were documented and they responded that the only documentation they knew of was on the page I was querying. Err, so how are FS managing the index program if they can't answer simple "How big is it?" questions? How do they even know when they've finished? Do they understand that nil returns need interpreting?

    Adrian B

  2. FS's Stat page in in XML format gives alot more information on what is published / awaiting publication / active projects at you just have to use Ctrl+F to search for the project you want. Or I keep track of it here in spreadsheet form (does not include those that are fully published) my spreadsheet is updated usually every couple days at least for the English projects. Weekly usually for non-English. In our news section of our forums on I have a weekly post listing the percentage changes of the projects from the last week plus I'll usually make a separate post listing the projects that have been published that week. Can't help with what the parts are though sorry. Especially with projects like Essex, Sussex, Dorset because with those projects it seems like the pages that were photographed were thrown in a pile and the photographer told to grab bag it. There's no order from what I've seen most of the time. Or the old documents are not telling us where they're from except for the project stated area.

    One thing you didn't point out was those projects that get indexed and then they never get published. Usually due to the fact that FS does not own the rights to them to publish them. There's been a few US State projects where the government does not allow FS to publish them for years to come.

    Also that support team doesn't work directly at FS. They are volunteers working from home to answer phones and emails. Sometimes on some of these projects they know just as much as us indexers.

    1. April - thank you for those links - and for the work you do in keeping that table up to date.


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