Question about the different search methods on familysearch.
I had a question about what makes the family search catalog different from images, or how records are different from the catalog or images. Also, where did these different search methods originate from?
Records from Search> Catalog (search results that have a searchable record) I believe are all indexed records from the efforts of all prior Indexing Projects/Contributors. Catalog does also include reference to unindexed/image only records but I am not sure if those are being migrated to Search> Images collections. There seems to be migration/duplication of these images between Catalog and Images. Catalog is the older database containing reference to microfilm/fische, books and other media - all housed by FamilySearch.
Records in Search> Images are resultant from scanning microfilms by machines/operators (past Utah Genealogical Society and FamilySearch missionaries) and current field missionaries taking high resolution photographs of collections all over the world. Records in Search> Images I believe are mostly unindexed but going through the process of computer AI indexing - to be reviewed, verified or reindexed/transcribed by anyone with access using the new 'edit every field' indexing app. I see more of these collections every so often. Today I saw one that I could actually not search for because the Image Group Information (the Project collection description/location was stripped - you can't search for fields that have been stripped). I believe Search> Images contains the results of all scanned microfilms housed by FamilySearch (completed sometime last year I believe) - as such I believe it contains a superset of microfilm collections which Catalog may not - with overlap but lacking any other digital copy of media types other than microfilm/photographs (to my understanding - for example Search> Books references would be in Search> Catalog but not Search> Images).
Several huge differences between Images and Catalog: - Images contains Group Data numbers that break a microfilm into separate searchable items whereas Catalog may not have had the capability to allow viewing of separate film items - Images also contains a new 'edit every field' index/transcription capability, whereas Catalog Images uses the older limited indexing edit capability.0
They're not different search methods. They're searches of totally different databases.
What many online genealogy sites, including FamilySearch, call "Records" are actually indexes of records. The database contains entries for particular individuals, with fields such as given name, surname, birthdate, and residence. Each such index entry can be linked to other participants in the same event or other members of the same group, such as a census household. Index entries are also linked to their source, such as the image that the indexer was looking at, or the website of the originating/owning entity. Indexed records can be searched by whatever was included in the index, and they're subject to errors from multiple sources, such as slips of the pen or typos from the original clerk, misreadings or typos from the indexer, and pre- or post-processing errors such as autostandardized placenames.
The Catalog on FamilySearch is basically a library card catalog for microfilms, their digital descendants, books, microfiche, and other things that FS has in its possession. It can be searched by things like the place, keywords, or subject categories. It can also be searched by film or digital image group number. The results pages will tell you things like the availability of images of that record set, and whether there are index entries associated with it. Keep in mind, though, that the catalog hasn't been updated in nearly two years now, and this is starting to show: the catalog doesn't know about all of the recent indexes that have been published.
Images is a search for specifically the parts of the catalog that include images. In my opinion, it is vastly inferior to the catalog; it is full of errors and omissions that make it unusable for me.
Another search offered on FS is Find, which searches the Family Tree.
People often get these different searches confused, particularly "Records" and Find. This is partially because they're linked: when an indexed record is attached to a Tree profile, the search results tell you so, and it's possible to get from an index entry to a profile to an image to the catalog -- or the other way around.1
@Nathaniel Simon Notheisen Just to add a bit to the responses you already received. You asked specifically how Search Catalog, Search Images, and Search Records differ.
Search Catalog searches all the holdings of the FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City, UT, USA. This includes digitized content, as well as non-digitized microfiche and books. It was originally intended for the use of visitors to the library, but the Internet changed that. You will find items there that you can access from your home computer, items that you can access at a FamilySearch center or affiliate library, and items that you can only access at the Library.
Search Images is where you will find all digital record sets that have no viewing restrictions--indexed as well as unindexed. As soon as digital images are captured, they are loaded to Search Images. The search is not as easy to use as the catalog search, but as you learn to use the filters, it gets easier to navigate. This is where you find the newest digital content. You will not find any content that you cannot access from your home computer.
Search Records searches only the indexed record collections. Some of the image associated with the indexed content have viewing restrictions. And, in a few cases, the indexes themselves have some viewing restrictions.3
Paul W ✭✭✭✭✭
An excellent summary of the matter has been provided by @N Tychonievich.
As pointed out, some of the images to be found at https://www.familysearch.org/records/images/ have been added fairly recently, so would not be found listed in the Catalog, as its content has not been updated for a couple of years.
However, the Images section usually presents problems in finding the image / record you are seeking, as much of the material appears under an inappropriately named location. Also, the "Image Group Information" detail, on the right of the screen, does not usually suggest the correct order for any multiple items (e.g. records of different parishes) that appear on the same film. Put together, this makes finding the image you want to view extremely difficult, at times!3
Thanks for all the help.0
Excellent points about the deficiencies of the Search Images from @Paul W
To be - I think - a bit more precise, the problems appear to crop up when there are multiple places on one film ("film" may no longer be the correct term, depending on what you think the word means...) So the "inappropriately named location" isn't totally random.
The Search Images method also acts unhelpfully when there are dated versions of a place-name - as most of the UK places will be. The example I just tried was for Wrenbury, which gave different but complementary results - some sets of images for pre-1801 Wrenbury and others for post-1801 Wrenbury. I think this may be an improvement on the results when I looked some months ago when the pre-1801 stuff gave zero results, making you think that there were no results at all for Wrenbury - instead everything was under the post-1801 name.
Being positive, I have found some very interesting stuff about my ancestral towns - though it was more relevant to local history, than genealogy.0