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Instead of writing to courthouses and driving to libraries with large genealogy collections, there’s an easier, cheaper way to access many genealogical records and books. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ (LDS) genealogy arm, Family-Search, has microfilmed millions of records and books from all over the globe. You can view the microfilms at LDS’ Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City, or rent them through 4,600 branch FamilySearch Centers around the world. Follow these steps place a microfilm rental order from home.
Watch this Genealogy How-To Video to learn the step-by-step process for ordering microfilm on FamilySearch.org:
1. Click on Sign In in the top right corner of the Family-Search.org home page <www.familysearch.org>. If you don’t already have a free Family-Search Account, you’ll need to create one. When you register, you’ll select a default Family-Search Center near you where you want films sent for viewing.
2. Select the Catalog tab on the FamilySearch.org home page. The catalog lists the FHL’s holdings, which include county and church records, family history books, unpublished research and more. You can request most microfilms, but unfilmed books don’t circulate—you have to go to Salt Lake City to view those.
3. Next, search the catalog. Search on a place name to find records and local histories, or on a surname to find family histories. The place can be a town, township, county, state or country, and you can enter one or more place levels. Enter just a state name, and you’ll get a list of all the counties and towns for which the FHL has items. Enter a county name, and a list of all the places within the county pops up. Select a place from the list and click the Search button.
4. The next screen shows all the subject terms for the place you selected. For example, if you choose a county and the FHL has land records and probate records, those subjects appear, along with the number of items under that heading. Click on a subject term to view a list of available items.
5. Click on a title for more information. In the case of county records, the description usually tells you what records are on each roll of microfilm and the years they cover. Some records are online and unavailable on microfilm—in that case, the catalog description links to the page on FamilySearch.org where you can view them for free.
6. Choose the film number for the records and time period you’re researching. With land and probate records—two of the most useful county records—you’ll usually start by ordering the index films. Land records typically have separate grantor (seller) and grantee (buyer) indexes. After you’ve found a name in the indexes, go back to the catalog to order the film with the records for the volume you need.
7. Verify that the website shows the FamilySeach Center near you where you want the film delivered. A short-term microfilm loan costs $7.50 and gives you at least 60 days to view the film on site at the FamilySearch Center. With the extended loan option, which costs $18.75, the film stays at the center indefinitely.
Some items are available on microfiche, rather than microfilm. A microfiche loan costs $4.75 and the microfiche stays at the FamilySearch Center indefinitely. After selecting a loan option, click Add to Cart.
8. When you’ve selected all the films you want to request, click Proceed to Checkout. Then verify your billing address, pay by either credit card or PayPal, and review your order. You’ll receive an e-mail confirmation. You have 24 hours to cancel the order if you made a mistake or no longer need the film. You can log in to your FamilySearch account at any time to check the status of your order.
A few weeks after placing your order, you’ll be notified by e-mail when your film arrives at the FamilySearch Center. You must use films on site—they can’t be removed from the center. When viewing your film, keep in mind that some contain multiple items. If the catalog indicated an item number, you might need to scroll through the film to find the record collection you need.
You’ll receive a renewal notification by e-mail a week before the film needs to be returned. You can either renew the film or have it returned.
From the October/November 2012 issue of Family Tree Magazine.