he world’s largest collection of genealogical records is available through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Family History Library maintains an impressive collection of the names of over two billion deceased people.
Owned and run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the library was established in 1894 with the main purpose of collecting genealogical records and helping members of the Church in researching their respective family histories. The Church built a massive vault into a mountainside about 25 miles from downtown Salt Lake City. The Granite Mountain storage facility houses the master copies of the Church’s collection of more than three million records.
The great thing about this library’s system is you do not have to physically go to Utah to access their amazing resources. The Family History Library has more than 3,400 branches in 64 countries throughout the world. These library branches, called Family History Centers or FHCs, help people look up their ancestors through official records. Every month, over 100,000 microfilm rolls are circulated to the FHCs. Their files include vital records, census, land, probate, immigration, church registrations and many other information that are valuable in genealogy research.
The public is free to use any of the Family History Centers. Should you need help, Church and community volunteers are available to answer your questions and assist you. The FHCs are often located in Church buildings and they are manned and supported financially by local Church congregations. Believing that families are eternal, the Latter-day Saints encourage members to identify their deceased ancestors. And, they are willing to share with people of all faiths the family history information they have gathered. Members of the Church respect your religious denomination and you should not be worried about missionaries knocking at your door as a result of using their library.
Another plus factor here is the availability of the online FamilySearch Internet Genealogy Service. Now you can easily locate a Family History Center near you and explore their many available resources, right from the comfort of your own home.
The FamilySearch Internet Genealogy Service is an interactive website sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was launched in May 1999. It was so well received by the genealogical community that it registered 60 million hits on its first day and 100 million hits on the second. With a daily average of 35 to 45 million hits, the FamilySearch Internet Genealogy Service continues to help people find and share family history information, and provide online access to the massive databases of the Family History Library. Access to these files is presently free of charge and there are no advertisements on the site. While it is not mandatory, the Church encourages anyone who avails of its resources to share his or her own data to the library.
Here are a few guidelines you need to keep in mind when you decide to use the FamilySearch Internet Genealogy Service:
- To make sure you don't miss any potential records for your ancestor, search for a surname only. A maximum of 25 results from each source will be displayed. When you have reached the results page, click on a source in the "Sources Searched" column to view the results generated by that search.
- If you are searching for an ancestor with a common surname, use both the first and last name to get better search results.
- Narrow your search by filling in additional search fields. However, fill in the fields one at a time so you don't get "narrowed" out of any matches immediately.
- For more search results, combine the first or last name of spouse or parent withthe first and last name of the person you are looking for.
- If you are searching for the children of the same parents, enter the father’s complete name and the mother’s first name only.
- If you opt for “Use Exact Spelling” you cannot list Spouse, Parents, Event, Year or Country.
As a final point, do remember that there are no guarantees as to the accuracy of any information you retrieve from these databases. It is best that you refer to original source documents to verify the information you find through the FamilySearch Internet Genealogy Service. It is also wise to communicate directly with those who submitted the data for Ancestral File, Pedigree Resource File and personal websites. What you can appreciate in the information that you gather from the online genealogy service are the clues given to you, which when evaluated, validated and followed up on can lead to other sources for your genealogy research
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