Use the Findmypast Card Catalog for Locality Research in Genealogy

Are you taking advantage of Findmypast's All Record Set catalog? Discover why this portal is a must-use tool on the British-based genealogy website for all serious family history researchers.


You'll find more than newspapers, the British Register, census records, and other gems. You'll find underutilized family history nuggets from archives and libraries around the world.

What is Locality Research?

Locality research for genealogists involves discovering geography, history, boundary changes, laws, customs, religions, and ethnic makeup of a specific place as part of a genealogy investigation.

Understanding these aspects as you investigate your family history will help you find records faster and speed less wasted time looking in the wrong place for possible answers to your research questions.

How to Access the Card Catalog


From any page on this genealogy website site:

  1. Click Search in the top menu bar.

  2. Click on All Record Sets (formerly A to Z recordsets).

  3. Use the left column to filter to a country.

  4. Type in a region.

Once you have a filtered listing of the online collections, take advantage of a unique sorting option available only on this genealogy website. The following columns can be alphabetically sorted by clicking on the column heading.

  • Record Set - titles of collections

  • Category - record collection types such as Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records

  • Subcategory- sub-groups of the categories such as Civil Birth, Social History

After you find a possible dataset, click on the relevant link.

  • You will often then see a search form.

  • Now you can use a name or keyword to search the database.

  • You can also type in a page number to browse through the collection. Tip: Type in 2 in the Page Number field to most often access the title page

You can now view the digitized images and search for your ancestor. Be sure to watch the video below to learn how to navigate records on this subscription-based website.

Conducting Locality Research on Findmypast

When searching All Record Sets, you'll want to search for a record, not necessarily an ancestor by name.

To be the most successful with your genealogy research plans, you want to do targeted searches for a specific place.



This video demonstrated how to explore the Findmypast Card Catalog for available records about Ontario, Canada. While I can't review all 221 related recordsets as of this post, I want to highlight a few of interest that you probably didn't know existed.

Lovell's Canadian Dominion Directory - 1871


This record is very similar to a city directory. For this one, the individuals are arranged alphabetically within a village, which is also arranged alphabetically.

On page 85 of this digitized book, I found an entry that says, "Mrs. Ellen Mar, widow of John, a dressmaker."

Unlike a city directory, you won't see her address. But you can't get a clue as to where Ellen was living in Brougham. The village does have a description such as "A village in the township of Pickering, county of Ontario. Distance from Whitby, the county town, and a station of the Grand Trunk railway, 12 miles, fare 50 cents: from Toronto 27 miles. Mail Daily. Population about 300."


Notice you know you have many rich details that can help you add context to a family history story that you may right. You know the distance between towns, the cost of travel by rail and how many people live in an area.

You can also see a list of other residents that you can use to research neighbors whenever you encounter a genealogy brick wall.

Ontario, Canada- Rural Directory For The Electoral District Of Lincoln, January 1929


Election rolls help put your ancestors in a specific place and time. You'll discover a few details to help your research:

  • initials or a name abbreviation such as Chas for Charles.

  • Occupation.

  • Designations for business owners.

  • Designation of French-speaking persons.

On page 5 of this book, I found W.R. Woodland, a laborer in Beamsville, Ontario.

Ontario, Canada- The Cameron Rolls, 1812


If your ancestor participated in military conflicts, there are records to locate the men in your ancestry, and the conflicts served in. In the Cameron rolls, there are few details, other than a roster of who served in

Capt. Cameron's company. These records were originally recorded on loose sheets of small letter paper bearing the watermark 1809. But this was extracted by the Ontario Historical Society.

However, you want to explore the collection because you could find a few interesting entries:

  • Abram Stoner - joined Cap Howard's Company.

  • John G ____ subject to convulsive fits and discharged.

  • Stephan & John Kaul - 2 black pen - private servants

  • Joseph Second - deserted

  • Simeon Devins - dead

Please pay attention to those footnotes at the bottom of each page because they are not consistent across each page.

Passenger Lists Leaving UK 1890-1960


Even though you're conducting locality research on a place such as Ontario, some record collections are kept at a larger geopolitical designation. The All record Sets filters will also include such collections in your results list.


If you leave the name field blank, you'll see entries with no name. You can do a no surname search or a surname and no first name search.

In the entry Gladys M Lambert, who arrived in Canada in 1946, you can see

  • The name of the ship she traveled on.

  • Her departure city.

  • That she was traveling with a daughter.

  • Her address in the UK.

  • The identity and address of the person she will visit in Canada.


Pro tip 1: Make sure you read the entire document. This one says Canadians Wives' Bureau.


Pro tip 2: Some collections have a lot of details on the transcript page. Be sure to check it out.

The collection information page offers insights into the records along with relevant historical context.

  • Details about the ports, ships, and types of voyages are included in the collection.

  • The total of how many people were on her ship.

Canada, Ontario, Oddfellows Life Insurance Applications

If you have ancestors that were part of the Oddfellows, you will love this awesome digitized resource. This collection has digitized the original two-page applications that document your ancestor's

  • personal medical history - including immunizations and injuries

  • biographical details such as marital status, age, and places of residence

  • family's medical history - including causes of death and whether parents, siblings, and/or grandparents are living

  • physical description - including

  • beneficiary

On the record for Charles Shipley, his beneficiary is Emily Miller, his fiancee! If you didn't know his wife's maiden name, now you do.

How to Save Findings to Your Family Tree

Some Findmypast collections make it really easy to save your findings to your tree.


On the transcription page associated with an individual, look for a button that says Add to Tree and follow the prompts to build your family tree.


Otherwise, you'll need to copy the URL for the image you want and then create a custom event on the family tree profile pages for your relatives. Paste URL as a source, and you're set.

I invite you to move beyond that home page general search forms or exploring just census records. Dive into the All Record Sets feature. Narrow down the options to the locations you're researching anywhere around the world. That find my classic covers. And see what you can find in.

More Findmypast Tips and Tricks

To learn more about using this website for your genealogy research, check out these videos and blog posts.

  • Utilizing FindMyPast Tree-to-Tree Hints for Genealogy Research

  • How to Easily Build Your Family Tree on FindMyPast

  • The Basics of Researching FindMyPast's Newspaper Collection

  • Searching the 1939 British Register

  • Use Findmypast's Social History Records to Explore Your Heritage


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