For those of you who are not frequent users of the FamilySearch website one of their recent upgrades may have gone unnoticed. If, however, you use this site to conduct place name searches for locating records pertaining to your ancestors, and in this manner dig down into the catalog’s historical records and microfilm holdings, you may have had a rather pleasant surprise. As you examine the holdings in each category e.g. land records, for example, you will observe all the microfilms have one or more icons associated with them. The first icon is a microfilm reel. Click on this and you will be taken to the ordering instructions if you want to order the film from Salt Lake, same as before. But if the microfilm title has a camera icon in addition to the microfilm reel icon, click on the camera icon and the microfilm page images are displayed and you can view the entire microfilm right from the comforts of your own home to your heart’s content. These are unindexed microfilms, so you may have to browse the entire microfilm (typically 500-800 images).
I was really fortunate because I was researching Cumberland County, PA, grantor and grantee indexes from about 1750 to 1940 which are alphabetical, sort of, and the entries are ordered by date on each page, and each page in the index has an internal locator that uses the first two letters of the last name and the first letter of the first name and gives the page number on which it appears so it is easier to use. This index allows one to identify names of the parties involved, when the transaction was initiated and finalize and gives the specific volume and page number of the actual deed, so in my case the index was not an end in itself as I still have to order the microfilm showing the actual deed itself but I am one step closer.