Brick Wall Case Studies #14: Locating a vital records certificate using the index information

There was an index for a birth certificate found online. Using the GS film number from the index and the FamilySearch catalog helped us to locate the document itself.

What We Knew

  • Henry Betram Wright was listed in an index on as born 11 September 1886 in Michigan. The full birth certificate was needed to find out the full information listed.
  • The index on FamilySearch looked like this:

    birth index

Records We Located

  • The index on FamilySearch listed a GS Film number as 2320846. ( also often has similar film numbers.) The film number refers to a microfilm number from the FamilySearch Catalog.
  • The first step was to go to the catalog by going to, Search, and then Catalog.
  • Next we searched on a Film/Fiche number 2320846:

    birth index 2
  • We were then able to view the birth records page with the images available. We clicked on the camera icon next to the film number. birth index 3

  • We went through the images on the digitized microfilm and located the record with the correct date. We were then able to verify the original document informaton for this birth.


Though this wasn't a brick wall situation, it is a common question that many people have and the steps can apply to obtaining any type of original documents such as birth certificates, marriage records, death records, etc. If there is a GS film number listed by the index, there is often an image available on of the original document.

Need help finding more records? Try our genealogical records directory which has more than 1.3 million sources to help you more easily locate the available records.

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