If you haven’t gone to the FamilySearch.org site lately you may want to click on over and check it out. They have been adding tons of databases – some with images and some without. Of particular interest to me has been the birth, marriage and death databases for a variety of states, including New Jersey, Ohio, Delaware, Indiana, Minnesota and others. In my goal to identify “all” descendants of some of my immigrant ancestors, I have been quite successful in finding records for several distant (and not so distant) cousins that moved out of our ancestral home state of Pennsylvania.
Now there are a couple of things of which to be aware. For the databases that include images, I believe you need to be registered and logged in to view the actual images. This is really not a big deal since registration is FREE!!
The other thing is that if I know a cousin moved to a certain area, I find it useful to focus my search to a particular database – say the New Jersey marriage database. The easiest way that I have found to do this is to go the main screen and click on the appropriate region under the “Browse by Location” – in my case that would be “USA, Canada, Mexico.”
That brings up a new screen with a listing of all the Historical Records for that area of the world. Rather than scrolling through the list, I type “New Jersey” in the search box on the upper left and the list automatically is pared down to only the records pertaining to that place.
Now it’s just a matter of clicking on the appropriate collection which will take you to the focused search screen. From there I usually just enter the surname and see what records I can find. You automatically get exact and close matches, although if the surname is really badly mangled in the index you may need to search on a combination of first name and dates.
Also bear in mind that they are constantly adding new collections so if you can’t find what you are looking for check back in a month or so and try again – you never know when the records you’ve been searching for may be added.