New: Online Genealogy Consultations with Family History Library Experts

June 30, 2020  - by 
A woman on the computer doing an online consultation

Humans have an innate need to know their identities—who their ancestors are and where they come from. Finding that past sometimes requires individualized expert assistance.

Now such assistance is available worldwide—for free—through FamilySearch.org, regardless of location or research question. Anyone can share the vast resources and expert services of the Family History Library by scheduling one-on-one online consultations. Genealogical specialists talk with guests in English and Spanish and will soon be available in other languages as well.

Family History Library—A Wealth of Genealogical Information

The Family History Library is the world’s largest repository of genealogical records, and it is staffed with experts in area-specific genealogical research. The library is extending access to that expertise and their resources so people throughout the world can succeed in their family history research regardless of their ability to travel to the library in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

Online Genealogy Help for Several Countries

A pilot program focused on Nordic assistance, but it has now been expanded to include Brazil, the British Isles, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Italy, Latin America, Norway, Portugal, the area comprising the historical Russian empire, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. Other areas will be added soon.

The pool of experts features specialists from the Family History Library but will be expanded to involve more specialists, including some from partner organizations worldwide, to provide expert help around the clock.

Help Navigating Online Resources

 Staff and guests alike are finding the consultations to be very useful, especially when it comes to navigating the many online resources and records that are available. For example, Russian and Slavic research specialist Ellie Vance was able to connect a man from Israel—who had previously never heard of FamilySearch—with a variety of resources and records.

“He had already done research on JewishGen.org and JRI-Poland.org, but we were able to locate a few other websites he can use to further his research,” Vance said.

The two were able to find a Yizkor book, a memorial book documenting Jewish life before World War II, that contained the man’s family name. In the last few minutes of the consultation, the man from Israel asked what the “Microfilm” column was in the indexes on both JewishGen and JRI-Poland.

“Imagine his surprise when I told him those were Family History Library microfilms that are now digital images that he can view from home! He was thrilled,” Vance said. “This is a great example of how we are expanding our global outreach to those who could never imagine coming to the library in Salt Lake City.”

Breaking through Brick Walls

Online consultations can also help patrons break through genealogical brick walls. For example, Nordic consultant Geoffrey Morris helped a woman named Patti find the parents of her immigrant great-grandfather in Finland.

The woman had done a lot of research already, but Geoffrey helped her identify good next steps and to join the Nordic research group in FamilySearch Communities. Communities are interactive groups of individuals around the world who share common research interests.

Help Getting Started

Age or inexperience need not discourage anyone from attempting family history research. United States and Canada specialist Vicki Standing spoke with a 70-year-old woman named Mollie who was just starting her quest.

Standing helped Mollie through the process of using FamilySearch historical records and narrowing the search to a specific collection. Mollie was delighted to receive images of a draft card, baptismal record, and marriage record, providing names of parents for both sides of the family. She was able to attach memories from funeral cards to her ancestors’ profiles on FamilySearch.org.

How to Sign-up for Online Consultation

Using the FamilySearch Research Wiki, guests can schedule specific time slots in English or Spanish for their 20-minute online consultation. The booking app provides time schedule information in the guest’s own local time to simplify making the connection across time zones.

Participants are asked to fill out a short survey following their experience to help improve the technological and personal aspects of online consultations. These improvements will allow further expansion. The one-on-one consultations are expected eventually to reach throughout the world in many languages. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments

  1. Thank you in advance if you are able to help. My GG Grandfather and GG Grandmother as I was told once that they were from County of Armagh. Unfortunately I do not have any information on them, they only show up on my G Grandfather’s wedding certificate in name only. They were married in Kincardine Ontario Canada. All attempts have failed to find my GG Grandparents even in Canada. I can’t move this brick wall without help if possible.

  2. After asking a few question of Family Search they recommended I take advantage of the 20 minutes of family history they offer on this blog. What I seem to need most help with right now is correcting place names…the places I am struggling with are…Anything in Bohemia….Austria, Humgary, Germany, CZ…I am doing my research I am learning, but still need some help. Another Country is Slovakia and CZ…I look at the dates to make a choice but the dates even are not exactly matching up so I will get rid of town names and just go with Slovakia…I have no idea with this is right or not. Another Country I struggle with is Mexico…I’ve learned that whenever I see somsething like Centro Distrito Federal it means Mexico City, Mexico. The last of the place names I struggle with are with the Native Americans….the other day for example I came across an “antelope woman” . To start with she had no other hints or info so I went to her record. She had no children listed, no parents listed and the only clue I saw was a note that family search put in that said something about an 1839 census…but the census was not attached…it was only the note about the census…I looked up the blackfeet tribe as there was a note about that too but they could be seen in about 3 or more states. I did find records on antelope woman but with such little info it was impossible to know if the record I had was her or some other person. Help if you can. Thanks. Charleen.

  3. Due to Covid, I am unable to go to a local Family History Center (I am in Massachusetts) as they are all closed. There is an online record at FamilySearch I am desperate to access (film #981289, folder# 23359), but it is locked. Would an online consultant be able to help me obtain the record I am seeking – would they have access? If not, is there any other way for me to get to it, bar waiting for months for the epidemic to subside and life return to normal? Thank you for your help!

  4. When will the Family History Center open and when will you have more material online? I am fairly skilled at genealogy. All I need is access to records.

    1. Hi Alwyn! Thank you for your question. While we wait for the Family History Library and Centers to safely reopen, you can search Record Collections to find all transcribed/indexed records. If you don’t find what you’re looking for there, I recommend exploring the Historical Record Images that have not been transcribed/indexed yet. You may also find what you are looking for in the FamilySearch Catalog. Also make sure to check out the FamilySearch Research Wiki. Is there a particular record collection you are looking for?

  5. I find your indexing atrocious to say the least. Searching for my great grandfather surname Young, I had to plough through Yun, Yung, de jonge?? And others, why?

  6. Fantástico tudo isso. Tem registros no site FamilySearch que estão disponíveis apenas para consultas em um centro específico. Isso não me permitiu avançar na minha árvore. Agora, com essa possibilidade de consulta on line, creio que posso avançar em minha árvore genealógica, tendo acesso a registros que ainda não estão disponíveis no site.

    Google Translate – Portuguese to English: Fantastic all of it. You have records on the FamilySearch website that are only available for consultation at a specific center. This did not allow me to move forward on my tree. Now, with this possibility of online consultation, I believe that I can advance in my family tree, having access to records that are not yet available on the website.

  7. I would very much appreciate having help learning how to input the genealogical information I have and hopefully finding my Jewish ancestors in Ukraine and From Lublin, Poland and Germany. I know several went to Concentration camps and were never heard from again. But I hoped to find the names of and villages where my relatives lived and worked in Eastern Europe .

  8. I am signed up for on-line conference with Patricia Rust at 3:00 PM. I am now 7 minutes late, and no way to sign in without an address. This is the only place I have found to communicate. What am I doing wrong? I did not receive an overdue notice either. Thanks

  9. I have been working on the biographical history of my BOWERS LINE for an entire year. I had hoped to find the parents of my 5th grandfather LEONARD BOWERS to use that info as an ending to my book. But, we have some leads as you can from our Family Search line, but documentation.

  10. Love help finding more answers
    I belong to a genealogy group at my local library but since covid19 it has been closed for 1 year

  11. IAM trying to find out who my GPA is I was raised by my gma,mom and my uncle j.d Hampton my GPA was never around

  12. I am not able to access certain record sets from Ukraine, mainly from Roman Catholic parishes. Many seem to be locked and one must go to a family history library/center. Since these are closed at the moment, I am unable to access. Is there a remedy for this?

    1. Hi Joseph! Thank you for your question. Until the libraries reopen we are all under the same limitations with the locked record collections. Hopefully as pandemic restrictions lift the libraries will quickly reopen. Thank you for your patience.

  13. Have been searching for a Great Grandfathers Background ( Family) for years…I see he has an Family Search Index Number..how do I find out what information is attached to that Number. John Wesley Barr LYWQ-TP7
    Was married to Joanna Winifred Brown and produced Ida Christina Barr 1867 ..divorced from Joanna in 1870 ..all this occurred in Butler County, Pennsylvania