Beginning Lesson #12
Using LDS Family History Centers

From: PHHGENE@aol.com 
DearMYRTLE,
Could you answer two questions for me. I have been told that the LDS records are not researched. Is that correct? Have they gone into county courthouses and copied the records just as they are written?

DearPHHGENE,

Thanks for the great lead in to today's overview of using a LDS Family History Center! Let me state in response to your first question, some records could be construed to be "not researched well" if one considers that a large number of researchers have elected to submit their compiled genealogies in book or computerized format. The LDS Family History Library cannot verify the quality of research that had been done. Its left to US to verify the lineages proposed by others. Hopefully they left big audit trails by citing their sources.

As to your second question, the LDS Family History Library (formerly the Genealogical Society of Utah) has obtained microfilm of original courthouse, parish and other vital records form towns, counties and over 80 countries all over the world. They also have microfilms of abstracted records, where in individuals may have done their own indexing or notations of entries they found searching the original books. 

Now some more specifics for beginning genealogists on why its advisable to use the resources of a local LDS Family History Center.

The Family History Library (FHL) is the main branch in Salt Lake City, Utah. There are over 3,500 local Family History Centers (FHC) located throughout the world, with lending library privileges with the main FHL in Salt Lake. You don't have to be a member of the LDS Church to use the facilities, nor do your ancestors have to have been members for microfilm of their original records to be archived there. When I was first getting into genealogy, I knew about the Family History Library, since I happen to be a member of the LDS church. I was amazed how many other people hold the FHL in high regard. Now I understand that it is the largest single collection of genealogical materials in the world. 

The Family History Library has a web presence now, located at: www.familysearch.org
Here you will find the online version of the catalog to the holdings of the Family History Library. Most microfilm and microfiche can be "borrowed" through the lending program I mentioned earlier. From the website I located the following description of the Family History Library genealogy collection:

Background:

Founded in 1894 to gather genealogical records and assist members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with their family history and genealogical research
Largest library of its kind in the world
Open to the general public at no charge
Visited by an estimated 2,000 patrons or more each day

Records Collection:

The collection includes over 2.2 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records; 742,000 microfiche; 300,000 books, serials, and other formats; and 4,500 periodicals.
The Ancestral File database contains approximately 35.6 million names that are linked into families.
The International Genealogical Index database contains approximately 600 million individual names. An addendum to the International Genealogical Index contains an additional 125 million names.
The Pedigree Resource File database contains 36 million names that are linked into families.
Records available are from the United States, Canada, the British Isles, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
In 2000, the collection increased monthly by an average of 4,100 rolls of film and 700 books.
A majority of the records contain information about persons who lived before 1920.
Approximately 242 cameras are currently microfilming records in over 40 countries. Records have been filmed in over 110 countries, territories, and possessions.

You may also search for an ancestor by name and receive "hits" from the following databases:

  • IGI International Genealogical Index

  • Ancestral File & Pedigree Resource File (soon to be combined)

  • Vital Records (for specific localities, not all inclusive)

  • Census Records (currently 1880 US, 1881 British & 1881 Canadian)

 You'll find lots of research assistance, as described in my recent column: Records Selection Table.

To locate a Family History Center, visit the web site or click on this hyperlink: http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Library/FHC/frameset_fhc.asp 

FOR FURTHER READING:

Definitely use the facilities of your local FHC. It can save you bundles in travel dollars! HOWEVER, do not make the mistake of beginning genealogists by assuming just because its on the web, or just because it is printed in a book its a fact. We make lineage assumptions using surviving documents (birth, marriage, death, christening, burial, church, military, land, probate, courthouse, census, etc.). Microfilm of these original records may often be part of the FHL collection. Even so, there is much work that should be put into evaluating the source of any evidence.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy


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