I am a name collector, I’ll admit it. When I first started doing genealogy research, I would look through a book or a microfilm and only copy or save information that I knew belonged to my ancestor. But sooner or later, I’d read something and think to myself, “where have I seen that name before?”. Of course, I would spend hours trying to location the information that I had not bothered to copy down originally.

So then I changed my plan to begin to copy EVERYTHING that had my ancestor’s surname in it. I had an index card with all of the surnames in my tree and if I was looking at a new book or microfilm, I would copy everything I could find from any of the surnames on my list. Clearly, that was not the best plan either as my piles grew larger, but I would still be saying, “where did I see that?”

So I turned to Excel once again. I began building a database for each surname. Every time I found a mention for a certain surname, I would enter the basic information into the Excel document, along with some indication of where the information came from. It was slow going because it was not unusual for me to decided to add the information “later” – which sometimes never came around unless it was the specific surname I was looking for at that time.

But then….the internet! The amount of genealogy information to be found on the internet is growing by leaps and bounds. For some surnames, it’s difficult to keep up with all of the new information out there! But there are ways to collect the information fairly easily and I’d like to show you how.

I’m beginning a new video tutorial series. This time, I’ll be showing how to build a database using Excel. As before, my purpose is to show how to use a variety of features in Excel but to do it in such a way as to allow you to follow along and to create something helpful to your genealogy research by the time we are done. I’m going to show how to collect all of the information that I can on one surname in a specific place and to organize the information in a way that will allow us to find information that we might have missed otherwise. It will show us different ways that a person’s name might have been spelled or nicknames we might never have thought of. It will show us relationships that we might never have considered before – or give us the proof that we’ve been looking for to confirm a relationship. The goal is to have all of this kind of information available in one document and to be able to view it in different ways to find matches among the people in the database.

For this series, I’m going to concentrate on collecting data from FamilySearch. If you’ve never used FamilySearch before, you are in for a treat! And even if you are very familiar with FamilySearch, I hope you’ll learn some cool features in Excel that you will find very helpful.

In this first video, I’m going to show you how to find out if microfilm images might be available for viewing online without ordering the film. I spend time showing how to find the images and how to use the viewer and image controls on the FamilySearch site. You might be surprised at how much you can find from home!