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Two billion images

There’s a saying that The Legal Genealogist heard years ago — that human being tend to count things as one, two, three… many.

In other words — and it’s certainly true in my case1 — we can’t really wrap our heads around very big numbers.

Numbers like, say, two billion.

That’s a two followed by — count ’em — nine zeros.

Nebraska recordsWhich is the number of images of genealogy records that are now available on FamilySearch, according to a news release that crossed my desk yesterday.2

If that’s not enough — and for a genealogist, there’s no such thing as enough when it comes to records — FamilySearch is adding records to its online system to the tune of millions of records each and every week.

Wow. That’s a ton of records.

As in one, two, three… many.

So since I’m heading out later this week to the Nebraska State Genealogical Society conference in Columbus Friday and Saturday, I decided to take a look at what’s available for Nebraska in those two billion records on FamilySearch.

If you look at the Historical Records Collections for the United States and then click on Nebraska, you might think there are only five collections — Nebraska Civil War Service Records of Union Soldiers, 1861-1865; Nebraska Marriages, 1855-1995; Nebraska State Census, 1885; Nebraska, Box Butte County Marriages, 1887-2015; and Nebraska, Broken Bow Homestead Records, 1890-1908 — and three of those are on partner sites.

That doesn’t sound very impressive, does it? Not a very big piece of two billion.

Except that that’s not even scratching the surface of what FamilySearch actually holds in terms of Nebraska records or materials that can help with your Nebraska research.

To drill down, you have to get off the Historical Records Collections part of the website and get over to the Catalog search area.

Don’t just enter Nebraska as the place. Use the Subjects field and put “Nebraska” in there for an overview of the kinds of things FamilySearch has. Even limiting it to items available online, it takes up most of a very long web page and ranges from one item catalogued as American literature – Nebraska – Bibliography (Checklist of Nebraska non-documentary imprints, 1847-1876, from the Historical Records Survey) to one listed under United States, Nebraska, Madison, Meadow Grove – Church records (Church records, 1877-1919, from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints).

Better yet — use the Keywords field and put “Nebraska” in there as your search term. With the filter set for availability anywhere, there are 8,599 items that show up in the search results. Change that to only those available online, and you still get 4,144 items.

One, two, three… many.

Take a look at the image here showing items by category: under Business records and occupations, you get things like the Dawes County pensions, 1924-1945, from the Dawes County Historical Museum in Chadron; under Church records, those for the Methodist Episcopal Church in Emerald from 1886-1974; under Ethinc, Political, or Religious Groups, you’ll find a wide variety of records from the Winnebago Agency of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Not enough for you? How about:

• Tax lists from Box Butte County.

• Voting records from Harlan County, along with its District Court records.

• The 1885 Nebraska state census schedules.

• Naturalization records from the Nebraska federal courts.

• The 1915 roster of veterans of the Mexican, Civil and Spanish-American Wars from the Nebraska Secretary of State.

And so much more.

One, two, three… many.

So many just from Nebraska.

Where I hope I’ll see you, Friday and Saturday, at the Nebraska State Genealogical Society 2018 conference in Columbus.


  1. I’m the one, remember, who has the t-shirt that reads: “I was a liberal arts major — YOU do the math!”
  2. “News Release: FamilySearch Adds 2 Billionth Image of Genealogy Records,” Family Search News to author, 23 April 2018.
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