FamilySearch.org, the popular free genealogy site owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes known as Mormons) has a new prototype website for searching free online records.
Begin by entering information about the person you are seeking right on the front page of the website. I put in the name of a long lost relative, knowing only his name and approximate years of birth and death. I used dates that were a few years before and after the anticipated dates since I wasn’t certain. The search promptly turned up a 1920 census record for him as a young child. This gave me his parents’ names and birth states, and I am now able to begin tracking this line.
This is a pilot site, so not all features are available yet, and the site may be done often while it is being perfected. However, it’s an excellent resource for tracking down challenging relatives or locating records.
The records included in this pilot site cover many regions of the world. Most were indexed by volunteers through a program run by the Mormons. Family Search Indexing volunteers devote many hours at home, without pay, to transcribe records delivered via the Internet and to enter the information into a form. Two people independently do the same record, and discrepancies are settled by a highly trained volunteer. The information is then made available at no cost to visitors.
Read more about Family Search Indexing on this website.
Some of the current records available on Record Search include death records, census records, parish records, Freedman Bureau records, will records, and a variety of international records, including the Ghana census, Church of England records, Hungarian Civil Registrations, and Australian index to newspaper cuttings.
The faster the volunteers complete the work, the faster the site will grow. Although the indexing program is done by the Mormons, you do not have to be a Mormon to participate. Many people who are not LDS assist because they are avid genealogists who have used the information the Church has made available and want to contribute to the effort.