Microfilm Distribution to Be Discontinued on August 31, 2017

May 30, 2017  - by 
Accessing records when indexing is available digitally.

As a temple and family history consultant, you know that genealogical records are valuable resources to help you prepare and deliver personalized lesson plans that create joyful family history experiences for those you serve. Today you may be using online indexed records, partner access, and microfilm to help people you are working with find their ancestors, prepare their names for temple ordinances, and share their love for their ancestors with others. 

FamilySearch has made significant progress in the digitization of its vast collection of microfilm, making access to records easier than ever. This progress, coupled with changes in the microfilm industry, have made it possible and necessary to discontinue microfilm distribution services. These services discontinue on September 1, 2017. The last day for ordering microfilm will be August 31, 2017.

FamilySearch has now digitally reproduced the bulk of its microfilm collection, with over 1.5 billion images available online. The digitization of remaining microfilms is expected to be completed by 2020. The most requested collections are already available digitally, and all new records are being preserved using digital camera equipment. This growing access to digital images of records allows FamilySearch to reach many more people faster and more efficiently.

Digital images of historical records can be accessed in three places under the Search tab on FamilySearch.org.

  • Records—Historical records indexed by name or organized with an image browse.
  • Books—Digital copies of books from the Family History Library and other libraries.
  • Catalog—Descriptions of genealogical materials (books, online materials, microfilm, microfiche, and so on) in the FamilySearch collection, including millions of online images not yet available in Records or Books. 

For additional help, see Finding Digital Images on FamilySearch.org.

Find digital images of records.

Stake temple and family history consultants should coordinate with priesthood leaders to manage any microfilm collections already on loan from FamilySearch and determine when to return films that are already published online or otherwise not needed.

Family history centers around the world will continue to provide access to relevant technology, premium subscription services, and digital records. This access includes content not available in the home that can assist temple and family history consultants in their efforts to prepare and deliver personalized one-on-one experiences and help for members and other patrons in their efforts to find their ancestors. 

For more information, see lds.org/microfilm.


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  1. It’s so wonderful that you are putting so many things on-line for people to see in their own homes. Thanks for all you do.

  2. Does this mean that all material which has been digitized but is currently marked with a microfilm icon will switch over to a camera icon and be available at Family History Centers? Or will some of that material become unavailable after September 1st?

  3. What do you suggest to me as where to find records from East Prussia? I can not find any digitized records for those areas.

  4. This action is far too premature, with so much yet to be digitized – as shown by the fact that the process will not be complete until 2020. Do to contractual difficulties many of us are finding less and less material is available for viewing at home. Also, once the microfilms disappear, some material will never be available via FamilySearch again – due again to its not having contractual rights to publish on the website.

    1. That was my first reaction too. I thought, why don’t they wait until all of the records are digitized before cutting it off? But from what I’ve learned since, they didn’t have much choice. Microfilm is getting to be prohibitively expensive, and very difficult to obtain. It’s also getting nearly impossible to get parts for the equipment. Microfilm is going the way of buggy whips, I guess.

    2. I just wish they could reconsider the ending date and end distribution the end of the year – We have patrons that are gone for the entire summer and can’t prepare for the ending. It was such short notice.

    3. It is wonderful that the library is trying to get ahead of the technology curve by digitizing the data that is now only on paper or microfilm. However, it is impossible to judge, from the figures made public so far, what the status of the project is today. To say that 1.5 billion images have been created and that there are 2.4 million films is both disingenuous and self-serving. Can we talk apples and apples? How many of the 2.4 million films have been digitized? How many of the 2.4 millions films will not be digitized and which ones? Whether because of contractual obligations or for some other reason?

  5. I understand the reasons for discontinuing microfilm distribution, but I am very concerned about the effect this will have on German research. Almost none of the church records are online, and from what I understand, the German government will not allow them to be digitized. They already restrict microfilm circulation in Europe, because they want to hold onto that revenue source. It seems that they would like to extend those restrictions here as well. The loss of access to these records would be catastrophic for German research!

  6. Looking at the Catalog for the church records in Glemmen prestegjeld (Østfold), Norway where some of my ancestors came from, I’m seeing that the early records on Film No. 125879 are marked as locked. You can’t see them online. Will this be corrected in the future?

  7. Is there any way to know “when” (in general) a particular item listed as “microfilm only” will be uploaded? I have several “dead ends” in counties where the records are listed as “microfilm” only – so just checking if there is a link to a list somewhere that gives a time-estimate of when to check back. Thanks for all you do. Great work.

    1. It is expected that the microfilm will be fully digitized by 2020. Individual microfilms may be available sooner. I apologize for the inconvenience.

  8. What options are available to access film located in SLC at the FHL but are prohibited from being published online by German laws? Is my only option to access the film to visit SLC or contact someone visiting the library?

    If it were possible to still process these via loan, or to provide network access to the files from a local Family History Center rather than typical online access, this would be very beneficial.

    Either way, I appreciate the work you do. Your efforts have allowed me to make huge strides in my genealogical research.