Those who just attended RootsTech 2014 probably wish they’d had more time for researching at the Family History Library. Others may have watched streaming sessions of RootsTech at satellite Family History libraries, called Family History Centers or FamilySearch Centers. Whatever the case, I’m guessing many of us wish we knew more about how to use the Family History Center (FHC) nearest us.
FHCs are great: they’re free, there’s usually one not too far from you, they are your personal portal to microfilmed content at the Family History Library, and you don’t have to be a member of the sponsoring LDS church. And as it happens, I’ve just republished a three-part series on FHCs from my original Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast. All three episodes feature longtime genealogy researcher Margery Bell, Assistant Director of the Oakland Family History Center in Oakland, California. Here’s a breakdown of topics covered in each episode. Click on each to see the episode webpage, where you can access the podcast and the show notes.
Episode 17: Introduction to Family History Centers, their local holdings and how to order and use microfilmed resources from the Family History Library.
Episode 18: How to prepare for a visit to a local Family History Center, subscription websites you can use for free while visiting, and making copies in all forms.
Episode 19: Educational opportunities available through Family History Centers and Margery’s 7 top tips for getting the most out of your visit. Bonus: Margery shares inspiring stories of genealogy serendipity that happens when researchers come together in person.
Originally published 2009
Republished February 4, 2014
Download the Show Notes for this Episode
Welcome to this step-by-step series for beginning genealogists—and more experienced ones who want to brush up or learn something new. I first ran this series in 2008. So many people have asked about it, I’m bringing it back in weekly segments.
Episode 17: Using Family History Centers, Part I
This episode is the first of a series in which we answer questions about Family History Centers (now also known as FamilySearch Centers), the regional satellite facilities of the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. When I’m done with you, you won’t have a single excuse left for hesitating to use these wonderful family history research resources!
My very special guest is friend of the show Margery Bell, Assistant Director of the Oakland Family History Center in Oakland, California. Margery has over 35 years of experience working in Family History Centers. In our first segment she introduces us to the Family History Center and walks us step by step through the process for ordering and using microfilm. Then in our second segment, Margery discusses the wide range of resources beyond microfilm that you will find at both your local Family History Center and one of 14 larger Regional centers. In our final segment she digs in to all of the kinds of other genealogical resources we can find at Family History Centers. Even if you’ve already been to a Family History Center, you’re still going to learn some new things along the way!
Find a Family History Center near you
Family History Library Online Catalog
Whether you’re going to RootsTech next week or not, at some point in your genealogical research you’ll want to use the Family History Library (FHL). The FHL, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, has 6.875 billion historical records on microfilm, which contain an estimated 20.6 billion names. That’s a lot of ancestors!
The FHL and its sponsor organization, FamilySearch International, are busy digitizing and indexing all those records, but it’s going to take some time. And some of those records may never be digitized because of publication rights limitations or other issues. So you should know how to access all those great microfilms!
Yesterday I republished Episode 16 of the original Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast. It features a great interview with Margery Bell on using the Family History Library. The show notes have updated tips on using the online catalog. Click here for some must-have tips on preparing for your visit. You’ll get a lot more out of your limited time in the library if you know exactly what information you’re looking for and where you’re going to look for it!