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. 

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  1. Hi I’m looking for the final resting place of my great grandmother Michie Tamara Minor Taylor. She was born October 1879 but I don’t know her date of death or place of burial. I know most about her parents but not of her. She lived in Sulligent Alabama. Rumor said she died of cancer. An 80 year old cousin told me shes buried on a farm in Lamar county Alabama.

    1. Hi April! There are a few ways you can search for your ancestors’ death records on FamilySearch. Here are my two favorite ways to search: You can search Historical Records that have been transcribed/indexed by volunteers, which are found here. There are different search fields (like first name, last name, location, etc.) in the form that you may use to narrow your search.

      If you do not find the information about your ancestors by searching Historical Records, try searching Historical Images here where you’ll find records that have not been transcribed/indexed yet that you can sift through manually.

      If you’d like more personalized help, I recommend joining a group in the FamilySearch Community here. Here you can collaborate with amateur and advanced genealogists alike.

  2. Am interested in free service 85 years old sam on social security have ided 13 direct ancestors who fought in american revolution want more info.

    1. Hi! There are a few ways you can search for your ancestors’ information on FamilySearch. Here are my two favorite ways to search: You can search Historical Records that have been transcribed/indexed by volunteers, which are found here. There are different search fields (like first name, last name, location, etc.) in the form that you may use to narrow your search.

      If you do not find the information about your ancestors by searching Historical Records, try searching Historical Images here where you’ll find records that have not been transcribed/indexed yet that you can sift through manually.

      If you’d like more personalized help, I recommend joining a group in the FamilySearch Community here. Here you can collaborate with amateur and advanced genealogists alike.

  3. My wife is trying to connect with family members that were with held from her when she was put in an orphanage at the age of seven. She is just trying find any of her family members that are left alive as far as she knows no family alive except our children.

    1. Hi Lois! There are a few ways you can search for your ancestors on FamilySearch. Here are my two favorite ways to search: You can search Historical Records that have been transcribed/indexed by volunteers, which are found here. There are different search fields (like first name, last name, location, etc.) in the form that you may use to narrow your search.

      If you do not find the information about your ancestors by searching Historical Records, try searching Historical Images here where you’ll find records that have not been transcribed/indexed yet that you can sift through manually.

      If you’d like more personalized help, I recommend joining a group in the FamilySearch Community here. Here you can collaborate with amateur and advance genealogists alike.

  4. This is a wonderful opportunity for anyone interested in family search. Right now I am working on my Dutch lines. Netherlands has great records. But I’ve recently discovered that my fourth great-grandparents were from Germany, so I’m sure I’ll need lots of help with the German records.

  5. This is a wonderful opportunity for anyone interested in family history research who needs help. Right now I am doing research on my Dutch lines. The Netherlands records are wonderful. But recently I discovered that my fourth great-grandparents were born in Germany.

  6. Saludos
    Soy de republca dominicana y quiero que me ayuden con los datos de mi bisabuelo faustino rodriguez fernandez de arbolentes asturias . Hijo de manuel rodriguez y josefa fernandez. Vino al pais en 1863 para la anexion a españa

    1. Hi Rafael! There are a few ways you can search for your ancestors on FamilySearch. Here are my two favorite ways to search: You can search Historical Records that have been transcribed/indexed by volunteers, which are found here. There are different search fields (like first name, last name, location, etc.) in the form that you may use to narrow your search.

      If you do not find the information about your ancestors by searching Historical Records, try searching Historical Images here where you’ll find records that have not been transcribed/indexed yet that you can sift through manually.

      If you’d like more personalized help, I recommend joining a group in the FamilySearch Community here. Here you can collaborate with amateur and advanced genealogists alike.

  7. Gostaria muito de fazer uma pesquisa na Alemanha para ver se consigo certidão de batismo e certidão de nascimento do meu pai, Heinz Scheufele, nascido em 5 de agosto de 1920, em Noidorf Alemanha. Sua religião evangélica Luterana.

    Translation from Portuguese to English:
    I would love to do a search in Germany to see if he got a certificate of baptism and a certificate of my father’s birth, Heinz Scheufele, born on August 5, 1920, in Noidorf Germany. Your Evangelical Lutheran religion.

    1. Olá Rudi! Existem algumas maneiras pelas quais você pode procurar seus antepassados no FamilySearch. Aqui estão minhas duas maneiras favoritas de pesquisar: Você pode pesquisar Registros Históricos que foram transcritos / indexados por voluntários, que são encontrados aqui. Existem diferentes campos de pesquisa (como nome, sobrenome, local etc.) no formulário que você pode usar para restringir sua pesquisa.

      Se você não encontrar as informações sobre seus antepassados pesquisando Registros Históricos, tente pesquisar Imagens Históricas aqui onde você encontrará registros que ainda não foram transcritas / indexadas e que você pode filtrar manualmente.

      Se você quiser uma ajuda mais personalizada, recomendo ingressar em um grupo na Comunidade FamilySearch aqui . Aqui você pode colaborar com genealogistas amadores e avançados.

  8. Me encanta esta nueva iniciativa de incentivar nuestra búsqueda ancestral.

    Quiero comunicar que creo haber visto un error este Domingo cuando indexe on line , en el programa de matrimonio
    Decía : Nombre de pila del Padre del NOVIO, dónde debería ir del Padre de la NOVIA.
    Los demás casilleros decían bien Apellido del Padre de la novia
    Edad del padre de la NOVIA.
    No sé dónde comentar ésto.
    Aprovecho este medio de comentarlo.

  9. I am trying to verify the father of my great great grandfather, Philo Chandler, born in VT & I think died in Wood Co, Ohio outside of Toledo,, Ohio, USA.or in the area. 2 Daughters: Caroline b.c.1837 & Frances Alexandra, b.1844 (my great grandmother who married George Carver & had 3 daughters: Cora, Anna & Daisy Luella (my grandmother who married Frederick Gordon Ellinwood Sr. & had my father F.G.E. Jr)

    1. Hi Frances! There are a few ways you can search for your ancestors on FamilySearch. Here are my two favorite ways to search: You can search Historical Records that have been transcribed/indexed by volunteers, which are found here. There are different search fields (like first name, last name, location, etc.) in the form that you may use to narrow your search.

      If you do not find the information about your ancestors by searching Historical Records, try searching Historical Images here where you’ll find records that have not been transcribed/indexed yet that you can sift through manually.

      If you’d like more personalized help, I recommend joining a group in the FamilySearch Community here. Here you can collaborate with amateur and advance genealogists alike.