Monday, August 04, 2014

Finding Chicago Catholic Records in FamilySearch's New Catalog

Every time I turn around, there's something new to say about how to find Chicago records and that's a good thing. But, it takes a lot of work to keep up. I've set aside the next couple of weeks to sit around in front of the computer all day long in my pajamas eating bon bons and focusing on updating (Just kidding about the pajamas and bon bons. Yesterday it was a Panera Sierra turkey sandwich--hold the field greens and add Peppadew peppers--that kept me going.)

Anyway, many of the changes I'm making point to the new FamilySearch site and this morning I found myself needing to update a page that mentions the Family History Library Catalog entries for Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic church records. I got to wondering what the best way to pull those up might be.

I'll spare you a detailed report on all the things I tried and share the approaches that seemed to work best.

Search 1: Looking for a list of Chicago Catholic Church records in the catalog.

Select Place Search, type in "chicago" and choose "Illinois, Cook, Chicago" from the list that appears. Click on "Church Records" to load the first page of results and browse the list. It's not alphabetical. If you don't find what you want, click on "Show More" and keep going. Or, alternatively, click on "Show More" until all the results are showing (in this case there were 264 results and it took 6 clicks) and then use "Ctrl F" to search for keywords.

Search 2: Looking for records from Chicago's St. Gabriel Catholic parish.

Good--Select Keyword (beta) and type in "chicago gabriel." There are 11 results and the church records are at the top of the list. If the list had been long, it could have been filtered by clicking on "Birth, Marriage, Death" and then clicking on "Church Records."

Better--Select Author Information and type "chicago gabriel" in the search box. The search returns two results with the church records at the top. A familiarity with how the catalog entries are structured helps in knowing what to search for where.

Search 3: Looking for records from Chicago's Polish parishes.

This was a long-shot search but I thought I'd give it a try. I typed "chicago polish catholic" into the Keyword (beta) search box and got 29 results. Narrowing them with "Birth, Marriage, Death" and "Church Records" brought it down to 18. Some of them were irrelevant (records for other places published in Chicago) but many of them were on target. Why did it work? I think it's because the records of the parishes were listed as being in "Polish." It doesn't work for Irish parishes, but it works for any parish that kept records in a language other than English, Croatian and German, for example.

Other Good Ways to Find Chicago Catholic Parish Film Numbers

While I'm on the topic, there are two really great back-door approaches to finding the Chicago Catholic parish film numbers and they deserve mention.

Use this site to find the parishes that surround a particular street address and click through to view the Family History Library catalog entries.

POINTers in Person Parish List

Use this site as a quick reference for parish addresses, dates of founding, and ethnicity. Click through to the Family History Library catalog entries. The current links lead to the old-style catalog entries.

Using the Family History Library Record Lookup Service

Have you heard about the Family History Library Record Lookup Service? It's a very convenient way to obtain digital copies of Chicago vi...