Using the Back Door at FamilySearch for Missing Records

Almost all of my research for the Luxembourg families in my family tree takes me to FamilySearch. The collections I use the most are for civil records, church records, and census.

The Luxembourg Church Records, 1601-1948 are the last new addition (for Luxembourg) to the FamilySearch site having been added on 9 January 2015. I wrote a post when they went online.

Included in the collection of church records are the Tables des mariages 1700-1798 (index organisée par l’époux/l’épouse), a card index of marriages performed in parishes in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg before 1800.

1790schwartzhaalermarriagecard
An example I used in my post 52 Ancestors: #8 SCHWARTZ-HALER Family of Osweiler

How this neat tool came to be

The Luxembourg Association of Genealogy and Heraldry (ALGH) was founded in 1984 and has its headquarters in the castle of Mersch. It does not have an internet presence. ALGH launched a huge project when the association was still young. A team of volunteers extracted all marriage information from the 156 old parish registers from before 1800 onto index cards.

The project took years to finish. The original aim of the ALGH was to make xerox copies of the index cards by parishes for members to consult in their headquarters making it unnecessary to go to the original.

FamilySearch microfilmed the marriage index cards in 1995 and included them in the church records collection for Luxembourg when they were digitized in 2012 and finally went online in 2015. The cards are in alphabetical order by groom’s and by bride’s surnames for each parish. They are also accessible in alphabetical order by groom’s surname for the entire country in Grand Duché du Luxembourg.

Why did I have to use a back door?

As I’m now working on the paternal 5th great-grandparents of my children in Luxembourg, I’ve gotten into an area which is no longer covered by the civil records kept in the country. Most of these ancestors were born, married, and had children before 1800. These can only be documented by searching through the church records.

Records after 1800 are relatively easy to access as civil records are indexed in the tables décennales, decennial tables produced every ten years since 1802. However, church records are not indexed and very hard to read.

1781marriagewilmescolman
1781 Marriage Record for Gangolphus Wilmes

I check the card index for marriages first as they make it easy to search for marriage records in the church records collection. Most of the time. In the example at the top, for the marriage of the SCHWARTZ-HAALER couple, the volumes and page numbers of the records are notes. Not all persons who filled out these index cards gave this information but the records can still be more easily found as the cards include the date and place of marriage.

However not all ancestors married in the town they lived in, so finding the card is not always easy. Some married in neighboring towns or in the town a bride was from. To be sure I didn’t miss anyone, I checked all persons (this works for grooms only) of a surname in the cards for the entire country.

And this is where I had a problem. The links for marriages of grooms with surnames from BIVER to HEISDORF are missing.
missingsurnamesmarriages
https://familysearch.org/search/image/index?owc=STH8-K6D%3A1501324901%3Fcc%3D2037955

I went to the FamilySearch catalog to find out where they might be found. I refined the search with Luxembourg as the place and church records as the subject. Under Luxembourg Church Records Indexes I found 8 entries including Fichier des actes de mariage avant de 1800 (index cards of marriages before 1800).

collectionoverview
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/760002

Scrolling down to the Film Notes I found the collection is divided into 30 films including the missing ones (outlined in red).

themissingfilms
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/760002

The camera icon is my back door to access the cards for grooms with the surnames BIVER through HEISDORF.

Happy Huntings!

This back door at FamilySearch can be used for any and all of their collections. When you go in through the front door, the name of a collection may not reflect the complete content of a collection. Not all records are indexed and not all browse only records may be showing up in a list as seen in my example above of the missing marriages for Luxembourg. Get into the habit of checking the FamilySearch catalog for the town, county, state, or country you are working on. Happy Huntings!
bestwishescathy1© 2017, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

As a military brat I've lived in Georgia, France, Idaho, West Virginia, Spain, South Carolina, Texas, and Luxembourg. Married 39 years with two grown children. When I’m not doing genealogy, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful countryside in Luxembourg and surrounding countries.

25 thoughts on “Using the Back Door at FamilySearch for Missing Records”

  1. One of my favorite techniques for finding missing people (females with unknown married names or males who disappeared) on FamilySearch is to not enter a person’s name in the search box, but instead to open the parents’ name boxes and I enter just the surnames of the mother and father. I have found a fair number of people that way who pop up in marriage or death records.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do the same thing, Linda. Now if all records were indexed then I could use the same trick for Luxembourg. But when we consider how much still has to be indexed, well, we just have to be happy with and learn how to get the best out of the browse only.

      Like

  2. Your attention to detail is fantastic. Thanks to your discovery of missing indexes I will benefit in knowing how to find my Luxembourg “Brochmann” ancestors in the pre-1800’s since their name falls into the missing category. Very much appreciate your sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is one of my favorite tips as well, I use it all of the time. Most recently I’ve been working on a branch of my tree that went from Scotland to South Africa. It is surprising how many different places the same SA Estate records are found on FamilySearch. That camera icon in the catalog has saved me oodles of time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I realized this morning that I haven’t been using this tip for my US research. I was asked by a FB friend if I had research experience in a certain county. While putting together a reply, I noticed that I had missed a huge amount of browse only records for the county. I can’t wait for a bit of time to go in and work on those!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, those browse only collections are added all of the time, so you may not have missed them the first time around. Images are being captured so much more quickly than they are being indexed. What I am especially fascinated by are the differences between old and new collections – the old microfilms that are being digitized and the brand new collections that FamilySearch never had and went from acquiring permission to a digitized collection without a microfilm. It makes navigating the search page and the catalog page for that place more important because you can find things in either or both places. I’m grateful that they are digitizing at such a break-neck pace that they can’t quite keep up with the cataloging in a perfectly orderly fashion, better that than to leave the images off-line. However, I hope they will start to streamline everything. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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