1. Parenting
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Visiting a Family History Center

By

While almost every genealogist would love the chance to visit the famous Mormon Family History Library in Salt Lake City, it's not always a possibility. For those of you in Sydney, Australia it is a mere 8000 miles (12,890 km) after all! The good news, however, is that traveling halfway around the world is not necessary for using the millions of microfilm rolls, books and other genealogical resources of this amazing library -- thanks to Family History Centers.

A vast network of over 3,400 branch libraries, known as Family History Centers ("FHCs" for short), are open under the umbrella of the Family History Library. These Family History Centers operate in 64 countries, with more than 100,000 rolls of microfilm circulated to the centers each month. These records include vital, census, land, probate, immigration, and church records, as well as many other records of genealogical value. Located in almost all major cities, and many smaller communities, it is very possible that a Family History Center is located in easy driving distance of your home.

The use of any Family History Center is free, and the public is welcome. Church and community volunteers are on hand to answer questions and lend assistance. These centers are staffed and funded by local Church congregations and are usually located in Church buildings. These satellite libraries contain a large number of resources to help you with your genealogy research including:

  • Genealogy records
  • Genealogy books and maps
  • Family histories
  • Family tree databases

The majority of Family History Centers have a large number of books, microfilms and microfiche in their permanent collections which can be viewed at any time. However, many of the records which you will be interested in will NOT be immediately available at your local FHC. These records can be requested on loan for you by a volunteer at your FHC from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. There is a small fee required to borrow materials from the Family History Library, around $3.00 - $5.00 per film. Once requested, the record will usually take anywhere from two weeks to five weeks to come in to your local center and will remain there for three weeks for your viewing before being returned to the center.

Tips on Requesting Records from the FHC

  • You have the option of renewing your loan if you need more time.

  • Any records that you request on microfiche can remain in your local FHC on permanent loan. Microfilm rolls that are renewed twice (a total of three rental periods) will also then stay on permanent loan at your local FHC. You can arrange this permanent loan from the beginning as well, by asking the volunteer at the Family History Center and paying for all three rentals up front.

  • Books which are in the Family History Library can NOT be loaned to local Family History Centers. There is an option to request that the Library microfilm a book for you, however. Ask your local FHC volunteer for assistance.

If you are concerned that someone at a FHC will push their religion on you, then don't be! The Latter-day Saints (Mormons) believe that families are eternal and encourage members to identify their deceased ancestors. They wish to share the family history information they have collected with people of all faiths. Your religious beliefs will not be an issue, and no missionaries will come to your door because you used one of their facilities.

A Family History Center is a friendly, helpful place which exists solely to help you with your genealogy research. Come and take a tour of a Family History Center with FHC volunteer, Alison Forte!

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.