A brief introduction to the LDS / FamilySearch Resources
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ("LDS"), also known as the Mormons, has been actively involved in promoting and supporting genealogy research for over 100 years and maintains the world's largest collection of genealogical materials at their Family History Library (FHL) at Salt Lake City, Utah. The collection includes over two million rolls of microfilm reels of genealogical-related records that have been microfilmed by Church members who operate camera crews around the world. The library also maintains various other materials onsite including extensive book collections, some of which may not be available on microfilm due to copyright restrictions. Onsite resources include microfilm readers, photocopy machines and personal computers.
The public is warmly welcomed to use the Library and its resources. There is no charge. There are also frequent guided tours and presentations. The library is located in a free-standing five-story building constructed in 1985 in downtown Salt Lake City, just across the street from Temple Square where the world-famous Mormon Temple and Mormon Tabernacle are located. Various hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, stores, concert halls, sports arenas (Salt Palace) and tourist attractions are located within just a few blocks, easy walking distance.
The LDS Family Search Website is the official website and online presence of the Family History Library has much more information. The library catalog is online and can be accessed through this website. While copies most of the two million microfilms are kept in open cabinets in the main library, certain microfilms are stored at an offsite vault and retrieval may take a couple days. A few may be restricted. This website also the searchable database of the millions of genealogical-related records that have been transcribed and computerized over the decades. While no longer specifically mentioned, it substitutes for the data previously available as the International Genealogical Index (IGI). However, they continally review, re-write and re-invent this website which makes things confusing and any further internal links unreliable and subject to change. Some items are buried deep in the menus. As of July 2015, this is the link to the LDS Family History Library Catalog
The Church, in coordination with the Family History Library, also maintains about 3,000 (reportedly, probably more now) Family History Centers (FHC's) throughout the world. See LDS Family History Center Search for locations. Most microfilms (there are a few that are restricted) can be ordered for use at any of the Family History Centers. There are a few conditions: there is a nominal charge for postage and handling (as of 2015 about $7.50 each), films must be used and remain AT the FHC, the wait may be 2 to 8 weeks and films will be kept for a limited period. The initial period is about four weeks films can be renewed for an additional fee. For an additional charge films may be designated as "extended" loan which is essentially permanent. Films may now be ordered online and paid with a credit card.
The FHC's are usually located within an LDS meeting house and may be very small. They will usually have a few microfilm readers, microfiche readers and PC's. Staff is volunteer and limited, but there are usually experienced genealogists around who are willing to share their expertise and answer questions. As with the FHL, the public is welcomed to use the resources, but due to the small size, reservations may be required, particularly to use a computer. Call ahead. Bring along a couple diskettes and/or USB Jump drive. See also "First Visit to a LDS Family History Center" for some additional newbie information and suggestions.
The FHL has recently begun cooperative arrangements with some major public libraries that may order microfilms for patrons under the same terms as the FHC's. These institutions are NOT included in the FHC listing on the website as of 2004, although that idea is being considered. Check their website to verify.
The LDS Family Search Website has a listing of the FHC's. You may also look in the phone book under "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints."
The FHL is actively engaging in digitizing and posting in the website images of various materials from its hardcopy and microfilm collection. Online items should be noted in the respective catalog entries. Volunteers are also actively engaged in indexing the genealogical data from appropriate records. Those indexes can be searched from the "Search" option of the main menu either globally or by specific collection. Many historic family history publications have also been digitized and posted online at Google Books and Archive.org.
The LDS Online Distribution Center Online ordering of other materials, including download of free genealogy software.
See also information about their major computer data bases that are now available online on the internet at: Mainpage LDS Info.
E-Mail to Neal
Main Genealogy page
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