Fold3 HQ

Tip: Browse on Fold3

Whether you’re browsing the records on Fold3 just to take a look around or browsing to find information on a specific person, this method of online exploration can broaden your understanding of a conflict period and give context to records about your ancestors.

The easiest way to access the browse menu is by selecting “Browse records” from the “Search” dropdown at the top of any page. Then choose a conflict period and record collection to look through. Each collection is organized differently based on the type of records it contains, but all are easy to navigate using the browse menu.

When you’ve navigated through the browse menu to its final pane, you’ll see thumbnail images of the records in that particular part of the collection. Looking at these thumbnails can give you a general overview of how much content there is in a particular record. You can also choose the information icon under a thumbnail to view the document information, like full publication title, content source, document type, a short description of the collection, and much more. Selecting any of the thumbnails will bring you to the full-size image in the Fold3 viewer.

Your browse isn’t over once you reach the viewer. From the viewer, you can open the “filmstrip” at the bottom of the page and quickly go to other images within the record. You can also use the “breadcrumbs” (the trail of links) at the top of the viewer to easily navigate to other parts of the collection without having to start your browse over from the beginning.

Another helpful feature is “Search within.” For example, if you’re looking for JEB Stuart in the 1860 Census, and you know he lived in Kansas at that time but aren’t sure which county to look in, select the 1860 census from the browse menu, then choose Kansas. Next, type “J E B Stuart” in the “Search within” box that’s located at the top of the pane and select “Go.” This will search within the Kansas 1860 Census and return a search result for JEB Stuart’s census record. From that, you’ll learn that he was living in Davis County, Kansas. (You can also begin a “search within” by selecting a breadcrumb from the top of the viewer and searching from there.)

For more information on how to browse on Fold3, view our helpful browse tutorial in the Training Center.


  1. martha halden says:

    your site is very hard to browse and find info.

    • Tim Massey says:

      I agree, they went from simple to hard. It is frustrating trying to find information you know is there and you can’t get it to turn up.

    • Stephanie Jenkins says:

      I think your site is difficult to use also.

    • Kae says:

      I agree. That is why I didn’t join.

    • Sally Jenkins says:

      I think Fold 3 is difficult too… not intuitive at all, if you didn’t have the content you offer, I would not be a subscriber! I do lots of work with DAR applicants!

  2. Lloyd Ferrell says:

    I’ve actually had pretty good luck both searching and browsing, especially with muster rolls and war diaries. Some documents in other sections I’ve not been able to search except manually for some reason, but other than that one issue I really like using this site.

  3. Monty Bilberry says:

    I agree with Tim Massey. I know my Dad served in both North Africa and Italy, but you can’t find a clue.

  4. Bob Epperson says:

    I prefer using the browsing search. I can quickly get to the section of the records I am interested in looking at. At the point where I can no longer narrow things down based on information I have, then I use the “search within” function to find possible answers. That way I have a lot fewer records to deal with in order to find what I am looking for.

    In any case the search is more productive if you can narrow it down to a unit, as well as a location, and time period before you start the search. Often personal records at home such as a DD214 (discharge record) will give the unit for soldiers from more recent time periods.

  5. DC Rambow says:

    I subscribed to this site as part of my WW1 book research project. It seems very easy to locate Civil War records, but I have been very disappointed to find very little from fold 3 regarding WW1 veterans. Very difficult to weed through extraneous sources to find the ONE I am looking for. I have other sources which I have found info & in many cases have not discovered anything to cooroborate here. Seems this is subscriber driven website? If subscribers haven’t entered information the site does not have it.

    • wolflover1944 says:

      DC-There is a major problem with WWI records. They were lost about 1972 to a huge fire in the archives. Most of what is available is information that has been contributed by people who wish to have family information preserved. I had my grandfather’s WWI records from items I inherited, when I searched the National Archives I discovered his particular unit was one of those whose records were lost. I then sent them digital copies of his papers to be added to their restoration project.

  6. Judy Curbow says:

    I have to agree with the statements above. The site is difficult to navigate. You almost need to know what you’re looking for. A general name search never yields much for me.

  7. Debbie Gahn says:

    I love Fold3. I have never found it difficult to search. I love opening the filmstrip at the bottom.
    I have Revolutionary War pensions, 1812 War & Civil war files. Has helped me answer a lot of questions.
    Love it!!

  8. mary j taggart says:

    I agree, that so many records are lost !!! How about the WWll records that were destroyed in a fire? Has anyone come up with answers to that history part?

    • Debbie Gahn says:

      Mary I sent for my father in laws discharge papers. I was surprised at the information it gave. Ex: where he was stationed through out the war. He recieved a bronzed star & my husband never knew that.
      No its not good for genealogy but goodfor family history.

  9. I agree this site is difficult to get any information from.

  10. My ancestor, William Thompson, was a Sgt in the 119th Illinois in the Civil War. He died in Gayoso Hospital in Memphis in 1864. I am trying to find out where his body was sent to be buried. Find-A-Grave is good if the research has been done already but I am breaking new ground. I purchased FOLD3 because I thought there might be more info here. 119th Illinois isn’t even listed. And- I agree- this site is tough to navigate. I wanted only Civil war records and a bunch of other stuff came up that I didn’t mark. If anyone can help me with my question, I would be very thankful.

    • Doris says:

      Your ancestor is probably buried in the Memphis National Cemetery. Go to this website to read about the Union soldiers buried here.

      You might be able to contact them re a list of Union interments from Illinois as you will note that Illinois erected a monument there to all its soldiers who volunteered.

      Hope this helps.

    • Daryl says:

      I think if you get a chance to go to NARA (national archives) in Washington DC they may be able to help you. There are lots of documents related to prisons/hospitals during the Civil War.

    • Rhonda Walkup says:

      My husband has a family member who also died at the Gayoso Hospital in Memphis as a result of the explosion of the steamship Sultana at the end of April 1864. Those soldiers who were found are mostly buried in the Memphis National Cemetery. If your family member died in late April, early May he might also be a victim of the explosion. You might try looking there. I’d also try a website administered by the VA ( If you are not familiar with the story of the Sultana it’s worth looking into…a horrific example of greed gone terribly wrong. Good luck locating your ancestor.

    • James Adkins says:

      Many of the Federal dead hospitalized in Memphis at that time were buried in what is now the National Cemetery. My father is buried there, and I have seen the Civil War graves. Check out what information Doris sent.

    • Sharon Nelson says:

      I also have a relative that was from Union County, Illinois who enlisted for the Civil War. He died of smallpox in TN during the Civil War and is buried in the Memphis National Cemetery. You may want to try there if you haven’t already done so.

  11. Nan Harvey says:

    I prefer to browse in the various collections and then search within. I have a request — Please get the Louisiana Mexican War Service records on line soon!

  12. Henry Cobb says:

    I wish I had not paid to use this site. I have not been able to locate any useful Revolutionary War data on my ancestors. There are so many with the same name I can’t tell one person from another.

    • Linda Swisher says:

      Henry, Fold3 cannot possibly tell you which of the people of the same name are YOUR people. That’s why genealogists have to track as many other clues as possible, in as many other places and records as possible, so they can begin to eliminate those they KNOW are not theirs.

  13. Bernadette says:

    The site is not very search friendly.find it very difficult to get information that I have gotten before..

  14. I recently sent via email questions regarding this site. I have yet to receive an answer. I found that a person that I have been trying to locate in your files has appeared in WWII Army Film reels. At that time, I could not acess them due to limited fees of my membership with Since then, I have upgraded to a FULL membership and now I can access everything. Unfortunately, fold3 has upgraded the website and now I can no longer access the WWII Army Film reels that I had before. How can I access the film reels now on the new website? Again, I have not receive an answer on this complicated web site. Sylvia Calderon Lopez

  15. Bob McCarley says:

    I have not been able to find my late father in law’s WWII records although we have several picture albums

  16. Judy McGinnis says:

    Fold 3 has great records IF you can find them. I am not new at this, but I find the search function awkward and annoying the way it jumps all over the place as search criteria are added or deleted.
    What is the point of choosing a year range or war when it still comes up with information for 200 years?
    Branch of Service should be an initial search choice.
    I’d also like the choice to limit my search to first and last name within 2-5 words of each other.

    • Nora says:

      Agree with all that this site is hard to use. I am not a novice at research and find this site confusing and not very helpful.

  17. Bob Evans says:

    I became a subscriber when Fold3 was “Footnote.” It was here that I found a treasure trove of information on my Minuteman ancestor in “Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Applications.” Since that major find I’ve found numerous documents that have answered questions and then raised more regarding other ancestors. Its been worth every penny.

  18. Teresa Reed says:

    I have also met with some frustration locating records on WWII. I’ve been tryin to locate info on my late (uncle by marriage) who fought in Italy. I was able to find some info, that he was a Private, but I was hoping to find his unit and other details. Since I’m probably not really considered “next of kin” can I get his records from St. Louis? He and my late aunt had no children.

  19. Terry Weaver says:

    Having just signed up for Fold3, I am getting many bad vibes from the comments of others. I think I am going to dread trying it out.

  20. judy mahaffey says:

    I agree, I subscribe to fold3, but use it as last result, it is difficult to navigate I dread having to use it which is a waste of money. When I type in a Name & State, they give you too many hits that you have to weed thru and sometimes it get way off track.There must a be a way to find what I’m looking for.

  21. Cheryl Manley says:

    Your old site was easy to maneuver. Now it is a nightmare. Thinking of dropping my subscription.

  22. Trevor says:

    Thank you for your feedback. Here is a link to our training center that will have additional helps in the form of videos and text tutorials that may help address some of the concerns above:

  23. Alene Knox says:

    I must agree that this site is VERY difficult to brouse and find men/women. Also, I am wondering WHY there are NO Merchant Marines listed for WWII?

    Thank you!

  24. This Fold3 app was advertised as “free”. Imagine my surprise when I opened my bank statement and found that I was charged ” $79.95″ for Additionally, I find that Fold3is connected to Archives” which I have opted out of and received a refund for. These cites ask for more and more money for extended services. Fraudulent advertising in my book that pulls in older people in particular.

    • Jennifer Trippeer says:

      It has been misleading to think you are on a ‘free’ application only to find that you can open nothing without paying for the service. I gave stopped using the site not only for the expense but the difficulty in using it.

  25. I demand that Fold3 refund my $79.95 to my bankcard immediately. I expect an email confirming my request.

  26. John says:

    I did not renew after spending so much time and receiving so little information.

  27. Pam Greene says:

    The recent (16 Jun 2014) down time for Fold3 and other affiliates should not be automatically blamed on the website.
    Likewise an inability or a difficulty finding info that you want/need is not necessarily the website’s fault. They can only try to make more easily available part of the information that you would have great difficulty and expense in obtaining from the original sources. $39, $79 or $129 is hardly the cost you would have if you traveled to a National Archives building and requested copies of a record based only on a name and a location or a military unit or conflict. Experienced researchers have spent days looking for an item that may now be available to you in seconds.
    Have any of you volunteered to assist in indexing or data input for any record?
    “Automatic” character recognition from a digitized copy can not pick out everything for everybody.
    At most Fold3 can only be blamed for not telling prospective customers what the site cannot do. They try very hard with their tutorials etc. to give users hints to overcome difficulties. Also they are a business. A grocery store will not sell very many bananas if the price tag includes “Only edible for one week under ideal conditions.”
    Do your basic research BEFORE you look for specialized information.

    • Debbie Gahn says:

      Thank you Pam. After reading some of these comments, I thought don’t you realize a lot of these records still need to be indexed!!! I think the war of 1812 pensions are only like 17% indexed. If you want more volunteer to index!!!

  28. David Ewing says:

    Well said @Pam Greene. As a new subscriber over the weekend I’m finding info I need with a little effort. Well worth the subscriyion price to me.

    I do find the user interface is a bit clunky as many have stated, but every site has its advantages and drawbacks.

  29. VERNA MORSE says:

    I can’t seem to get anywhere on this site and I know many of my family members plus my husband were in various branches of the service and various time frames.

  30. Audrey says:

    I could never find anything either, it is difficult to navigate,
    the site should be more like,
    have a search box where you put all the info you have on the person you are looking for, such as name, family members, where they might have lived, what war they served in, rank, co etc. then hit search, if more than one person pops up then you can eliminate the ones that don’t match..

    • Janet says:

      I’m almost certain that Fold3 is a division of I was never successful at finding either of (2) 2nd great grandfathers who served in the Civil War on Fold3. I know that one of my 2nd great grandfathers was wounded at Chancellorsville but Fold3 gives me no information on him at all. I agree with most of the comments that Fold3 is very, very difficult to navigate and is not user friendly. I have recently been noticing that is becoming some what tedious to deal with. I’m not sure but I think I remember reading a couple of years ago that had been sold to new people. If that is correct, then maybe that is why things are changing – and not in a good way.

  31. Bill Speck says:

    Do not like new format at all. Recent change when from being fairly easy to very hard.

  32. Vinnie Morrell says:

    I agree with lots of others…it is a difficult website…I’ve tried looking for other WAVES who served with me in the Navy and cannot come across ‘one’ name… I tried using Fold3 sometime ago to find out about some friends’ death…only came up with 2 names….I entered 7 people that I know have passed & couldn’t find the 5…change your ‘navigating system’ to make it easier to use…

  33. Monica says:

    I’m happy to see that I’m not the only one who has had frustration with this website. It has so much potential. But I also did not join due to the difficulties in navigating this website. My internet connection is fast enough for every other website I use, but not this one. Fold3 was either painfully slow in downloading images, or would freeze up and not download at all. (too bad my ancestors are not named ‘We’re sorry, it’s taking longer than expected to download this image’). It worked better when I left home used a different WiFi connection.
    And even when I do have a fast enough internet connection, I have experienced the same frustrations mentioned by so many others.
    I WOULD join Fold3, if it ever becomes more user friendly.

  34. I agree with the comments. Instead of making this site “user-friendly”, it has been made harder. Supposedly, there is a list of records showing WWII draftees who were rejected for health reasons, but I’ve been unable to find it on this site. Also, surely there was an age limit on Civil War draftees as I can’t feature 60 and 70 year old men serving in the Civil War. Someone on claims my ancestor William Buchanan born in 1789 served in a war that began in1861 [he would have been 72 years old]. Part of the problem is that there are quite a few William Buchanans living in Ohio in the early 1860’s and the majority don’t have middle names or didn’t use middle names. I have been told this particular William Buchanan didn’t like war. His son Alexander Buchanan appeared to have served in the Civil War.

  35. Carol says:

    I agree with other posters. I find it difficult to navigate this site. I have ancestors whom I know served in the War Between the States and I cannot find their info on your site. That’s the main reason I don’t subscribe.

  36. Valencia Raheem says:

    I would like to cancel my monthly subscription as soon as possible ! Thank-You

  37. Ray Muse says:

    Rhonda and others who are interested in the Sultana incident:
    Check out the new season of the PBS series “History Detectives”:
    The series opener is a very interesting twist to the story of this tragedy.
    On their website, look at the third preview button, labeled “Civil War Sabotage?”

    As for the Fold3 site, yes there are always improvements to be made, but I’m just glad to have access to so much information without the time and expense of a personal visit to the proper Archives facility for each piece of information I’m searching for.

  38. Bren says:

    When I first joined I had no problem finding ancestors. It is difficult now. I downloaded over 60 pages on one ancestor in the Revolutionary War. Now, I can’t find him or the information I saved. Same for another ancestor. Where are the files I flagged and following go? Some of them are there – some not!

    Trying to browse is a chore! Too complicated and involved. We should be able to in an exact name and get results. I’m not willing to go through page after page of people with the last name in order to find the one I am looking for. What happened? I recommended Fold3 to everyone I know. I’m sorry to say, I wouldn’t do that now. Something needs to be done to make this process easier!