Un-indexed Historical Images at Family Search

Due to contractual obligations, Family Search cannot offer expanded access to historical records that are restricted to family history centres and affiliate libraries, despite the temporary closure of these facilities. We apologize for the inconvenience caused by COVID-19 precautionary measures.

In the meantime, we encourage you to explore the vast record collections that are available on Family Search. Millions of new indexed records and images are added weekly. And if you haven’t used our new Explore Historical Images tools, you might be surprised at the potential discoveries you can make in our growing un-indexed image collections. We appreciate your patience, loyalty, and support.

The above message has begun to appear on the Family Search start page.  Most of us will just glance at it and close the panel.

Should we?  What does it mean for you? 

Family Search is reminding you that they cannot give you access to all their digitized records outside the Family History Center, and not even via the affiliated libraries despite the Covid-19 closures.  The contracts they have with the various religious and state organizations that have provided access to these records do not permit them to be made freely available on the internet.

For Italian research it means that the Italian Government, who are uploading civil records from the State Archives to their own ‘freely available’ site is not permitting internet access via Family Search even though these same records are (or eventually will be) available on the internet.

In the meantime Family Search is encouraging you to Explore Historical Images.

Family Search gives you seven choices under the search function.  I usually go straight to the catalog and search for the town I need.  You probably search records, entering the name of an ancestor along with other details but this only functions well if the records you need are indexed. Choosing images lets you see exactly what has been digitized for that town whether the records have been indexed or not.

This is a real treasure trove but may really try your patience.  At first glance it appears to be duplicates of what is already in the Family Search Catalog.  However, some diligent comparison of the two lists showed some interesting new records.

In the ‘Place’ box enter – Frosinone, Lazio, Italy even if you know which town you want to search.  Then click on ‘Search Image groups’. Then locate the town in the list of 174 results for the Province.

A search of the Historical images for the Province of Frosinone gives 174 films varying from 1871-1925 of civil birth, marriage and death records but also marriage banns, and attachments and government records and military records. Some of the documents contained cause of death information reported by the police.  A newborn died in a fire, a 10-year-old by a shotgun in 1944.

Remember, these records are not indexed and are not filmed in any particular order.  Family Search has provided information about the group of records but I did not always find that information to provide a sequence that enabled me to locate the precise group of records I wanted to view on the film.  They do, however, provide the citation.

Some records that are locked on their main page can be viewed in the historical images section.

During the search I got really excited to see parish records listed in Latina Province but they were German records that had been mis-labelled!  Many of these groups of records have not been checked for accuracy in labelling or quality and have not been indexed.  Eventually these records will be processed by Family Search and added to the records in the ‘Search – Records’ or catalog area but until then maybe you can find some treasures in the ‘Search – Images’ area.

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