Category Archives: Tips Tricks and Tools

How to Access FamilySearch Records not Indexed is (in my opinion) the best FREE Genealogy Site.  I’ve found a great many records in FamilySearch by searching by name.  It allows you to refine your search by dates and areas.  However, there is much more to FamilySearch than meets the eye.  There are millions of Free Records on FamilySearch that can’t be found via their search, because they are not yet indexed.

Here’s how to find them:

  • Log in to If you don’t have an account, just set one up, it’s FREE.
  • Click on Search
  • Under the Search Button, there is a link that says “Browse All Published collections”.  Click on it.

You will see the Historical Record Collections listed. Note the column ‘Records’.

  • If there is a number, that means the file has been indexed and you may find your ancestor by searching their name, however, you may want to view the record collections, since indexing is done manually and therefore subject to typing or transcription errors.
  • If there is a link that says “Browse Images”, then this  record is not indexed. Click on Browse the Record and you’ll be given other options, such as County, then name of file. Note the scroll bar on the right side, you may be able to scroll down. The display window is short and there is usually more to see below the fold.

Once you can view the file, under the Record name at the top of the page, you will see Image and a box with the page number.  Just change the page number and click “Go”.  Most of the files are alphabetical.

For Example, I found a record under Iowa, Fayette County Probate Records 1851-1928. When I click on that, I then was given a list called Probate case files (series1) with additonal information including the Letters for the names. I selected no. 282-341, C 1881-1895. date ranges. In this case, it appears that a file card with the name, date, type (e.g. estate) and number is placed before the pages with the documents.  The next file or files will be the documents for that file. On page 16 we find the card for the estate of  Olive Conrad. The executor of his estateis James Conrad (a son or brother?).

record-image (2)

There are several pages of documents. On page 24 we find an appraiser’s Bill, that lists Olive Conrads assets.

record-image (3)

Pages 16 through 171 are all relating to the estate of Olive Conrad.

Also listed for Iowa, is the Iowa State Census, 1925.

I suggest you take some time to scroll through the pages and see what is there.

Pat Burns. Copyright © 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Genealogy and Special Keyboard Characters

My mothers family was from Denmark.  My fathers family was from Germany.  In doing my ancestry research, I have found that the names of my ancestors included alphabetic characters that are not on my keyboard (or so I thought). So sometimes I copied and pasted, but other times I took a shortcut and “anglicized’ the name in a way that I thought was correct.   After a bit, I realized, it would have been easier to do it right the first time.

Here are some examples of names of people and places in my tree that have ‘special’ characters:

  • Sæby, Hjørring, Denmark – where my maternal great grandparents are from
  • Mørk – My maternal great grandparents surname
  • Dörr – German spelling of my surname Doerr and many ancestors
  • Feußner – German surname of my 4th great grandmother (ß anglicized to ss but sometimes mistakenly replaced by a ‘b’).

These are just a few examples that turned up in my ancestry and I feel it is important to spell names as they were at the time.  This not only helps when searching, but is just the right thing to do, IMHO.

Cheat Sheets and Online Tools to help

  • Pat’s Cheat Sheet – I made my own ‘cheat sheet’ for Mac, which I’ve included below.
  • Here is an online tool that is awesome.  You can create a variety of characters for a variety of languages and copy and paste them into your document. It’s called
  • I found a ‘cheat sheet’ for Windows at that may be helpful for windows users.  It has many of the characters mentioned above and much more. A search engine search will provide many free cheat sheets for Windows and Mac.

Here is the cheatsheet I made for Mac.  Feel free to download and print it.

Download (PDF, 85KB)

Pat Burns. Copyright © 2018. All Rights Reserved.


Excel Spreadsheet Tips for Mac and PC

So here we are on week 3 of the Genealogy Do-Over.  I’m not quite ready to do my Week 3 post, but thought I’d take a break from my research and share a couple of Excel Spreadsheet tips that I have come across during this weeks tasks.

Do a hard return within an Excel Spreadsheet

  • On a PC, all you need to do is press alt + return.
  • On a Mac you need to press control + option + return

Add a bullet within an Excel Spreadsheet

  • On a PC press alt + 7  using numeric pad on keyboard (if laptop enable cap lock)
  • On a Mac press option + 8

Shorten a link in an Excel Spreadsheet

It’s the same for both Mac and PC.

  • Copy the link you want to add
  • From within the cell, right click your mouse and select Hyperlink
  • Paste the link into the Link to: field (Mac), or Address: field (PC)
  • Type text you want to display in the Display: field. For example “Click Here”.
    NOTE: I found that if the link is really long, it’s easier to fill in the Display field first, as the link will automatically be filled in.

Create Drop Down Box in an Excel Spreadsheet

  • First you need to create a new sheet listing the options you want in your drop down box.
  • Now go to the sheet you want to create the drop downs on.
  • Select the column (or cells) you want to add the drop downs to.
  • Click on the Data Tab on Excel Menu Bar.
  • Click on the Validate down arrow and select Data Validation
  • A pop up screen will display. Under the Allow: drop down, select List.
  • The cursor will be in the Source field in the pop up screen.
  • Leaving the pop up screen open, click on the sheet where your list is.
  • Select the drop down options you want for that column.
  • The Pop up screen will now display that sheet and cell numbers.
  • In the pop up screen, click okay.
  • Test to make sure all is as you want.

Copy and Paste is so much easier!

Did you know that you can copy the index in a record from and paste it into a cell? This saves lots of time. There may be more information on the actual record, but not having to retype that initial information is a real time saver. Just be sure to double click inside the cell before pasting.


Although I figured some of this out using Google search, I picked up many of the tips from Thomas MacEntee’s Hack Genealogy Webinar Research Right: Tracking and Evaluating Your Genealogy Research Boot Camp. This Webinar was well worth the cost of only $9.95 IMHO. Thanks, Thomas, you kept me from a lot of rework in my Do-Over!

Pat Burns. Copyright © 2018. All Rights Reserved.