Finding Elusive Records in FamilySearch Through Browsing Unindexed Images

Did you know that NOT every record on FamilySearch has your ancestor on it is found through the search form? I invite you to leave the search form and get on to the Browse Only Images on FamilySearch.

What Are Browse Only Images on FamilySearch?

FamilySearch has billions of records online, but not all are searchable using the forms found at

The vast majority of digitized images available to research your family are found through the FamilySearch Catalog. You can navigate these images and browse through them as if you were sitting in front of a microfilm reader or handling a book.

Regardless of whether you call them browse-only, image-only, or unindexed records, each image is a path to discovering more family members to add to your family tree.

How to Access Unindexed Records on FamilySearch

While I can explain in words how to navigate to the Card Catalog, you'll want to watch this video for step-by-step instructions.

You can access the FamilySearch Catalog from the top menu bar or the Search sub-menu bar and click "Catalog." You can also use this direct link.

Use the search box and type in the partial name of a location. For instance, you can type "Wake" and quickly navigate through a drop-down menu prompt to Wake County, North Carolina.

After you select a location, you'll reach the catalog page for that location. You'll likely find a listing with categories such as:

  • Probate

  • Court

  • Immigration

  • Vital Records

  • School Records

  • Biographies

  • And more.

You never know what you'll find. You just have to look for your location.

↪️ Are you new to genealogy? Grab your copy of this FREE Beginner Guide:

Some Browse Only Images Have Indexes

While using the image-only records on FamilySearch, I found waypoints into the images.

Some collections have digitized images, separate from the records I want to research. For instance, in the video I created about land records, I showed you how FamilySearch has an Index to the Deeds as a separate link from the actual Deed Records.

Some collections have digitized books that contained an index at the front or back of the item. The index provides reference page numbers to the individuals named in the book. In the video linked above, I demonstrated the case with Wake County, North Carolina Alien Registrations.

The final type includes records that lack an index, either separately or within the collection. In the video linked above, I showed you a Jail Register for Licking County, Ohio, with this format.

With Browse-Only collections with indexes, first, you consult the listings and discover the page numbers (and books if applicable) before searching for the images. For the collections without an index, you flip through the record, page by virtual page.

For more Tips on Research FamilySearch

FamilySearch is a free genealogy website with a vast array of resources. Continue learning about how to use FamilySearch


© 2016-2020 by FHF Group LLC.

Read our disclosure statement.