Free Genealogy Resources

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Free Genealogy Resources

Postby bimjim » Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:15 pm ... enter.html

Free Genealogy Resources at Your Nearest FamilySearch Center

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the Mormons), has gathered a huge amount of genealogical information. Their Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah is the largest such facility in the world, with millions of books and microfilmed records, as well as many on microfiche. There is no fee for searching any of the records available in the library. They are completely FREE for anyone to search.

Of course, not everyone lives near Salt Lake City, or can afford the time and money to travel there. For most of us, we can use a nearby "catalog office" that allows us to access most of the same information that is in Salt Lake City.

There is no charge to visit a local Family History Center. However, you will be asked to pay for any photocopies you make (usually about $.05 per page) and you are asked to pay for the postage for the microfilms you rent from the main library in Salt Lake City (typically $5.50 in the United States for a 30-day rental).

Many local Family History Centers have computer scanners so you can load up your thumb drive with images and take them home to view on your own computer. Most local centers also have a collection of the most frequently used microforms and sometimes they also have a large collection of genealogy books. Family History Centers are completely free for your use, as are their computers.

Both the Family History Library and the satellite Family History Centers also offer free access to gigantic databases and to a number of research web sites such as Ancestry and HeritageQuest ..

The local Family History Centers can provide most of the resources of the huge Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Of course, a trip to a local center will probably be much more cost-effective than a trip to Salt Lake City! Many of the centers are located in Mormon churches. However, you will never be given any information about the Mormon religion nor will you be approached by Mormon missionaries, unless you ask. The local Centers welcome visitors of all faiths. In fact, history has shown that the local centers are more popular amongst non-Mormons than amongst those who belong to that faith.

You can find your nearest local Family History Center at ... et_fhc.asp.

Posted by Dick Eastman on July 05, 2009


I visited a local Family History Center many times. Sometimes I just wanted to look for a couple of things on for free, and I didn't want to pay to use at home for a whole month just to look for a couple of things.

But the more spectacular resource was the old microfilmed records. I orded about 12 different rolls over time. Those images are not (yet) available on the internet. Maybe some day. Even though some of those microfilmed records were not only handwritten in German, but in an older style of German, (and sometimes in Latin!),I was able to make out names, months, days of the month, and years. I hit the genealogical jackpot because my two ancestors who had been the ones who had emigrated to the U.S.A. had had about two dozen of their direct ancestors all live in one little town in Baden (now Germany).

Posted by: Larry Parker | July 05, 2009 at 10:32 PM

Yes, The microfilmed records are the best FHC's have to offer. One- on-one assistance is also available, but the value of this varies according to the knowledge level of the volunteers that staff the centers. Hey, at our FHC the copy fee is $.10 for computer printouts and $.25 for copies from microfilm/microfiche. The key to what you can order is the Family History Catalog at

Posted by: Caryn Lowther in Homewood, Illinois | July 06, 2009 at 06:13 AM

Finally!!! The Family Histroy Centers are the most under-utilized resource for genealogical and historical research in North America, bar none. Their vast library of microfilm is an invaulable asset to any researcher. I do primarily Irish research and it would be almost impossible without these microfilmed copies of the original manuscripts. In fact, many more records and documents are available through a local FHC than are sometimes not available to view in Ireland itself! For the price of postage, you can spend a whole month browsing through the entire church reigster, land valuations, tithe returns, maps and much more. Several published books have also been microfilmed.
One of the great things is that the Library Catalog is available on your home computer, It takes a little learning curve to understand their catalog system, but well worth the effort. If one uses the "keyword" search, results are much better. I am not an adherant of their Church, but I am very grateful that the open their collection to all interested parties. I could not imagine doing Irish research without this resource. Volunteers are always on hand to direct you to the holdings and show you the computer datebases and website - Nufarr

Posted by: Nuala Farrell-Griffin | July 06, 2009 at 06:41 AM

You mention and Heritage Quest as reasons to visit a FHC. Smaller FHCs will have neither because access to those sites is limited to larger FHCs. However, large and small Family History Centers have,, (digitized Swedish records), 19th Century British Library Newspapers, (Godfrey Memorial Library), Brady Civil War collections and more. These "premium" content sites are not widely available through local public libraries, and are a great way to explore digital content without investing in a personal subscription. At our FHC, we also help our patrons learn to use FamilySearch Record Search (and encourage them to subscribe to your newsletter or Dear Myrtle in order to stay current with what new collections are being added to Record Search).

Posted by: Lise Embley, Director - Williamsburg (VA) Family History Center | July 06, 2009 at 09:16 AM

Some of this information is outdated -- no longer allows the Family History Centers to have their Library Edition access; it has been over a year that this has been the case.

Postage is now $5.75, a renewal of a film is for two months for $5.50 and a second renewal at $5.50 makes the film an extended loan for an indefinite period.

Even better news is that the FHCs are allowed access to most of the material on Footnote, World Vital Records, Genline (Swedish), Heritage Quest and some other lesser sites. Footnote's city directories and city newspapers can be invaluable if your people lived in our larger urban areas -- their U.S. war material is extensive.

In addition, FHCs extended loan films may be of a nearby major city's vital records or even church films of baptisms, etc. Calling around to the numerous FHCs in suburban areas to check what their extended holdings are may allow a patron to avoid ordering films (which take 4-6 weeks to arrive).

Certain libraries have permission to order and store LDS films so that a patron need not travel to a far-distant FHC site if they are fortunate enough to live near one of these libraries.

Remember, anyone can sign up at to index the films that are rapidly being digitized -- when they are indexed, they are put . for everyone to search for free. Many hands make faster access!
Jim Lynch

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Re: Free Genealogy Resources

Postby bimjim » Sun Oct 17, 2010 8:55 pm

If you are at all interested in how and where the LDS records are being digitised and stored, there are a number of videos on YouTube you can watch which document exactly this. Afterf you have watched the first one, several similar links appear below the video which may lead you to other videos - after part 1 there is a part 2, for instance. You could also use Google to search with keyword "FamilySearch YouTube", and you will see quite a few results matching your interest.

For part 1, click on this link...

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