Accessing Parish Records – FamilySearch

Here is how you can access parish records in FamilySearch. It’s not the same as using the other websites, but not totally dissimilar, either. You do not need to be logged in tofs_1 search (only to view the records) but since membership is free, why not start off by signing in? Not a member? Click “Create your free account” on the landing page.

What is really exciting about using FamilySearch (FS) to look at records online is that FS is the biggest genealogical organization in the world. It has far more records than any of the commercial companies. Starting about 60 years ago, they started collecting images by photographing records (only black and white, unfortunately) and making them available on microfilm through Family History Centers worldwide. Not all organizations gave permission, of course, so there is no blanket coverage, but you may also find records not available at the commercial companies.

Although still currently available in Salt Lake City, the decision has been taken to withdraw the microfilm option. Instead, FamilySearch is in the process of turning those images into digital format and making them available online. So, eventually, all the records held by FS for the United Kingdom will be available to view. Unfortunately, they are not all indexed so you may need to do some old-fashioned searching once you get to the record set.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Go to FamilySearch. At the top of the page you will see a Search option. Hover over the word and select ‘Catalog.’
  • Make sure the option to search by place is selected.
  • I would suggest selecting ‘Any’ under availability. You can select ‘Online’ instead, butfs_2this way your search will show whether FS has films that have not yet been digitized. If you search by county, you will likely get a huge list of results, so try searching for specific place names. Click Search.
  • Look at all of the results. fs_3You will need to open up the drop-downs to see everything that was found.
  • In this case, I will click ‘Bishop’s transcripts for Brimpsfield, 1616-1812.’
  • Towards the bottom of the page, under File/Digital Notes look at the format. Whatfs_4you are looking for is the camera icon. If you can only see a film icon, then the microfilm has not yet been digitized. If that’s the case, make a note, and look again later. The magnifying glass means there is an index.
  • Click the camera icon. If you are not already signed in you will be prompted to do so.

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