Look to vital records database to enrich genealogy research

The Family History Department's first release of computerized information was made more than a decade ago, a large database called FamilySearch, dedicated to our family history centers, said Raymond W. Madsen, manager for resource files.

This pioneer effort was followed more recently by database releases for the home. These releases are in four categories: Vital and church records, census records, immigration records and lineage linked records.

Vital records indexes contain unique information that has not been published by other sources, and should be searched in addition to records already on the FamilySearch site, such as the International Genealogical Index, he said. "Most of the information in the vital records will be available on the Internet in time," he said.

Vital records have been published from Australia, Britain, Mexico, Western Europe and Scandinavia. These records have built-in search engines, and allow for collection searches down to the parish level.

The Mormon Immigration Index contains information on LDS companies who immigrated through various ports into the United States. The voyages have links to journals, diaries and letters of many of the immigrants on their voyages, a gold mine of information.

Census records published include the British 1851 Census, the British 1881 Census and the 1880 U.S. Census, with the 1881 Canadian Census likely completed by year's end. With the exception of the 1851 British Census that includes only three counties, these census data are complete and have massive amounts of information.

Lineage-linked data include the Freedman's Bank records and Pedigree Resource Files. Freedman's Bank has records of some half million freed slaves and some former African American military personnel. The Pedigree Resource File is a collection of genealogies submitted by users. These often contain sources and notes, which preserve their information as submitted.

Other Family History products from the Family and Church History Department include the Personal Ancestral File, a software program for recording information; Personal Ancestral File Companion, software for printing a multitude of forms, charts and reports (compatible with PAF 3, 4 and 5); Family History Library Catalogue, which lists the resources of the Family History Library; and Source Guide, a wide list of sources.

'Most of the information in the vital records will be available on the Internet in time'