What You’ll Find at Family History Centers

By Family Tree Editors Premium

Here’s a look at the different types of records you’ll find at your local Family History Center.

Secondary sources on the computer

Ancestral File is a compilation of genealogies (family-linked information) contributed by thousands of people worldwide, including the patrons of Family History Centers. The information is mostly about deceased people and is linked into pedigrees (family trees) to show their ancestors and descendants. Individuals listed in the database who are still alive will have an entry of “Living” where there is normally a date and place of birth, to protect their privacy. The names and addresses of submitters and contributors are also available.

The International Genealogical Index (IGI) is the largest genealogical database in the world. It lists dates and places of births, christenings and marriages of more than 250 million deceased people who lived from the early 1500s to the early 1900s—information extracted from thousands of original records.

Secondary and compiled sources on microfilm and microfiche

• A reference collection for starting research in different states and countries.

• Published records of state and federal government agencies.

• Published genealogies, private family papers and manuscripts.

• Periodical Source Index (PERSI) index to genealogy magazines.

• Newspaper indexes for obituaries, genealogical columns, etc.

• Published inventories and guides to large bodies of records, such as the National Inventory of Documentary Sources (NIDS), to help you identify records in other repositories.

• The Parish and Vital Records List of all church records that have been extracted and indexed by the LDS Church.

Primary record sources and indexes on the computer

• The Social Security Death Index of deaths reported to the Social Security Administration from 1937 through 1994.

• The Military Index covering US military personnel who died in Korea or Vietnam between 1950 and 1975.

• Scottish Church Records of almost 10 million names listed primarily in the Church of Scotland parish registers, from the 1500s through 1854.

Primary sources and indexes on microfilm and microfiche

• Indexes of births, marriages and deaths in the vital records or civil registration.

• Church records and parish registers for many denominations worldwide.

• Indexes of census enumerations for various countries including the US, England and Scotland.

• Indexes of passenger lists for thousands of individuals emigrating from or immigrating to other countries.

• Military records and military history from many countries.

• National Archives microfilms (including military, census and land records and other sources to trace the origins of immigrant ancestors) and parts of the Library of Congress collections on microform (including land ownership maps from cities and counties in most US states).

Publications and guides

The Family History Library publishes a series of Research Outlines and Resource Guides that are free or available for a nominal charge (40 cents to $1). The outlines contain details for each US state and Canadian province, plus many foreign countries. Each outline describes records of genealogical value, where they are located, how they can be used and how to find them in the Family History Library Catalog. You can also purchase the Family History SourceGuide ($5), which includes all the outlines and guides on one CD-ROM. Two other useful booklets are “A Guide to Research” (40 cents) and “How to Use the Family History Library Catalog” ($1).

You can order Family History Library publications on the FamilySearch site; minimum order is $5. Or contact the library: 35 North West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150, (801) 240-2331.


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