Researching In Salt Lake City's LDS Family History Library

By Susan Kimura

Salt Lake City — I conduct family-history research every day as finding my ancestors and learning about them is an important part of my life. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints (LDS), also known as Mormons.

The LDS website states: "FamilySearch is a service provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our commitment to helping people connect with their ancestors is rooted in our beliefs. We believe that families are meant to be central to our lives and that family relationships are intended to continue beyond this life. We therefore believe that all family members—those living, those past, and those future—share an enduring bond that reaches across the generations."  We perform sacred ordinances in our temples that bind us together, both the living and the deadas families for the eternities.  One of my favorite places to research is the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, a 35-minute commute from my home.

Susan Kimura and Bettye Pribyl, the 'Texas Tracers'

The Family History Library houses the largest genealogy collection in the world. The collection includes more than 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records, 727,000 microfiche, 356,000 books, serials, and other formats, more than 4,500 periodicals and 3,725 electronic resources. There are more than 300 individuals worldwide who photograph records daily and send the images back to expand the collection.

The library has five floors devoted to patron research. Professional genealogists and volunteer missionaries staff each floor to answer questions and offer tips to aid research. There are dozens of computers on all levels, where one can access subscription sites and a myriad of other sites for free. The cost to copy books, maps, and the like is $.05 per sheet and less then $.25 for films. The copiers are now so sophisticated that one can lighten or darken the image, or sections of the image, to create the clearest copy. Internet access for personal computers is also available.

Family History Library in Salt Lake City

The library entrance is on the main floor, where a 15-minute film continually plays on a loop to furnish general information about the library. The books on this floor all pertain to family histories and are in alphabetical order by surname. There is also a small break-room, where one may eat a bag lunch or purchase items from vending machines.

Level B2, the bottom floor, contains books, films, maps, and microfiche pertaining to England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

Level B1 is the international floor. Many of the staff speak a foreign language and help patrons by reading and translating material. This floor includes all countries except the United States, Canada and those found on B2.

Levels 2 and 3 cover the United States and Canada. Level 2, one floor above the main floor, has films and microfiche, and Level 3 includes books, maps, and pedigrees. The U.S. books are organized by state and county.

The library catalog, also online, offers many choices for researching:last names

  • titles
  • author information
  • subject
  • call numbers
  • film numbers
  • key words

Menu items at the bottom of the page include 'See what’s new,' free courses, browse articles, blogs, and 'Ask for help,' just to name a few.  I’ve taken the free classes at the library, which were wonderful in getting me started.

If you are not going to Salt Lake City, FamilySearch offers a network of 4,500 facilities offering public access to genealogical records worldwide, with locations in more than 80 countries.  At a FamilySearch center, you can access billions of online records, as well as the LDS circulating collection of 2.5 million microfilms from more than 100 countries — according to the library, the largest collection of free family history, family tree and genealogy records in the world. The records span billions of names across hundreds of collections—including birth, marriage, death, probate, land, military, IGI extracted, and more.

You may even find free classes taught on a weekly basis at one of these satellite centers, depending on its size. The staff can also offer research support and help you master computer-assisted search. The goal of the library staff is to help you succeed in your search for ancestors.  And for the very best part — all of this is free! Happy hunting! (First published on 1/29/12)

FamilySearch Jottings: announced this month that Family History Library will soon be making available to researchers 19 million additional records from 33 countries. At the moment it can only be accesses in Beta by a select few.  We will alert our readers when we know more. Meanwhile, you can access many existing online records at 

The FamilySearch Newsletter announced this week that they are running a contest!  If you have used Family Search Research Help Services submit your stories on how they helped in your research for a $100 Visa gift card.

FamilySearch RootsTech Conference Will Broadcast Select Sessions Free Online!  During their Family History and Technology Conference February 2-4 2012, FamilySearch is offering 14 free live online broadcasts including one on using Twitter by Geneablogger Thomas MacEntee as samples of the presentations.  View this newsletter online.  

THIS WEEK ON OUR YOUTUBE GENEALOGY CHANNEL:  We featured a beautiful video from the FamilySearch YouTube channel of a grandfather sharing his experience during Pearl Harbour with his granddaughter and great granddaughter as they share the importance of sharing family histories.

ABOUT THE WRITER:  Susan Potts Kimura graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English and a minor in history and was a genealogy researcher for a genealogy firm in Salt Lake City.   She is currently an elementary school aide working with slow readers.  Susan is the author of this blog's popular Irish Quaker/Pim articles.

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Tags: FHL, LDS, alannah ryane, church of latter day saints, family history, family history library, family search,, genealogy, genealogy research, More…irish family history, salt lake city, the wild geese


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