|Cupcake by Serge Bertasius Photograph/Courtesy Freedigitalphotos.net|
Over and over again I hear from family historians that they don't use the FamilySearch Catalog or the Wiki or some other portion of the website. And I get it, I really do. Why use the Catalog (or other parts of FamilySearch) when you can go straight to digitized records or indexes? Let's face it, for most websites or software, we only use a portion of the available features.
It's sorta like when you were a kid and it was your birthday. You waited patiently (or not) til it was time to cut that cake. But minutes before there was that temptation, the overwhelming temptation to stick your finger into the frosting and be the first to taste some of that sweet goodness. For those of us who dared to follow through with our plan, the result was that your mom would get mad and give you that disappointed look or threaten to not let you have a slice. But let's face it, the frosting is the best part when you are a kid. Now, this defiant act made mom mad for a few reasons but there's something she knew to be true. The frosting is great but it's better to have the cake with the frosting intact. Very few people want to eat dry cake.*
Sure there's the immediate gratification of entering a name and date in FamilySearch and getting some "hits." There's a lot you can do on FamilySearch but you need to partake of the cake and the frosting. The cake includes that Catalog with its books, periodicals, microforms and digitized records. This is where the vital records, wills, probates, and everything else can be found.
My advice to everyone is to conduct an exhaustive search on the FamilySearch Catalog as soon as possible in your research process. Not sure how to search the Catalog? Let me provide some tips.
(* Ok, I would still rather eat the frosting and I know lots of adults who don't like to eat it and save the calories. But let's just go with this analogy for the sake of the point I'm trying to make).