Des Moines Iowa Family History Center

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FamilySearch This article describes the services and resources available at a Family History Center, a branch facility of the Family History Library.

Welcome to the West Des Moines FamilySearch Library!

Please call the center before coming to see if open. The center is volunteered run. Volunteers have unexpected family commitment or illness, therefore we sometimes have to close the center.

West Des Moines FamilySearch Library

The West Des Moines FamilySearch library is a volunteer run library with access to many archives and records to help you find your ancestors.

Center Contacts and Hours

Location Map: Location Map

West Des Moines FamilySearch Library
3301 Ashworth Rd
West Des Moines, IA 50265-3137
Cross intersection street – Valley West Drive

Ample Parking on the east
end of the parking lot.
Handicap spaces available.
Phone: 515-225-0416

Tuesday: 10:00am - 3:00pm & 6:30pm - 9:00pm
Thursdays: 10am - 4pm & evening bi-weekly from 8pm - 9:30pm
Saturday: 10:00am – 3:00pm
Sundays: 4pm to 7pm (Spanish)

Groups: Wednesday 6:30pm to 8:00pm

Group visits: Schedule one week in advance.


West DesMoines Family History Center Map.jpg

Holiday Schedule:

Closed 1st weekend in Apr/Oct for General Conference. Closed Christmas and New Years Day weeks.

We occasionally close unexpectedly because of inclement weather. Same as the Des Moines Public School system. If they are closed, we are also closed.

Planning a Visit

Our FHC is staffed by local volunteers who can help get you started with family history research. They can guide you in using FHC resources and equipment. If you're planning a visit to our center to begin your genealogy, write down what you know about the family you wish to research -- names, dates, and places -- and choose a research goal. This will help our volunteers to best assist you. Please call to calendar and confirm group visits in advance.

West Des Moines FamilySearch Library is pleased and eager to offer the opportunity for individuals, organizations, and others to schedule a group visit to our library. We offer a variety of options that are sure to provide interest to your group. They include a short presentation, 20 to 25 minutes, in one of our meeting rooms, with the remainder of the time in the library.

Be our guests in a fun and learning atmosphere where knowledgeable FamilySearch staff will welcome and assist you in uncovering your ancestors and build your family tree.

For Groups: To make an appointment, please contact the temple and family history consultant - center.

From the Riverton Utah Library:

Handouts and Guides This new page includes links to download or print PDF handouts from the classes taught at the library and the Quick Start Guides available at the library. Handouts and Guides to view the handouts and guides.

Calendar and Events

2019 classes (Saturdays 1:00 pm-3:00 pm (3rd week)

Jan 19 Updates cancelled
Feb 16 Using Ancestry
Mar 16 Fake and Fraud Genealogies
Apr 20 Using Research Hints
May 18 Finding Clues in Land Records
Jun 15 Evaluating Evidence
Jul 20 Using My Heritage
Aug 17 Using American Ancestors
Sep 21 Using Ancestral Quest (offline program)
Oct 19 Identifying Persons in Old Photographs
Nov 16 TBA
Dec 14 Using Geneanet

Upcoming Events

Family History Day Sep 17, 2019 10am-1pm registration 9:45, 10 AM , 11AM . Age appropriate classes for children age 3 to 11 years. 12 noon Light luncheon and Social

  • The Des Moines Ashworth LDS Meetinghouse will host a Family Discovery Day focusing on the youth from 10:00 am to 1 pm. A light luncheon to follow.

Remember to bring a your own USB drive stick!
Remember to bring a photo to scan!

10:00 a.m. 11:00 a.m. 12:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m.

Staff Training Meetings

Come to a class to learn what you have not been trained yet. Or request a time to be trained on the system.

Center Resources


  • Patrons' Microfiche Collection -- a collection of fiche ordered by our patrons, assorted titles. Contain family histories, vital records, and other types of information. These are indexed in the green binder in the reference shelf. **Recently updated.** Fiche ordering ceased Aug 31, 2017.
  • Indefinite Film Collection -- a collection of films on a variety of subjects, to include vital records, county records, court records, etc. They are indexed by state and then by county in the "state binders" in the bookcase. These are indexed in the white binder in the reference shelf.
  • Book Collection: -- Dictionaries of many languages. Reference guides for areas worldwide. Head of Families (Early censuses). These are indexed in the blue binder in the reference shelf.

Check out our collection of books, films and microfiche on clickable links above. We have recently added a new reference tool. FamilySearch WIKI pages. It is in the yellow binder. Share with us some useful WIKI's to add in our book.

We encourage visitors to bring own their digital cameras for copying images from microfilm or microfiche. Then you have your own digital record and can take the images home to clean them up on your imaging program!

  • If the FHC camera is used, copies may be printed or files may be transferred to a jump drive using the XnView or FastStone.
  • Memory sticks/jump drives can be used to download information from the microfilm scanner.
  • Email Scans to your Email account from microfilm scanner.
  • Patrons may bring their own laptops for note-taking or entering information into personal genealogical programs, with the disclaimer that the owner is responsible for the security of the device.

The Center is not a lending library. All films, fiche and books MUST remain within the Center.

Databases and Software

  • FHC Portal This center has access to the Family History Center Portal page which gives free access in the center to premium family history software and websites that generally charge for subscriptions.
  • 19th Century British Library Newspaper Digital Archive - contains full runs of 48 newspapers specially selected by the British Library to best represent nineteenth century Britain. These support the study of colonial history, genealogical research, politics, urban studies, and media courses.
  • Alexander Street Press - Research Data: Contains indexed, searchable information on over 4 million soldiers and thousands of battles, together with 15,000 photographs. Letters and Diaries: Contains approximately 100,000 indexed pages of diaries, letters, and memoirs, including 4,000 pages of previously unpublished manuscripts, such as the letters of Amos Wood and his wife and the diary of Maryland planter William Claytor.. The American Civil War: Research Database Letters and Diaries Images, Photographs, Posters, and Ephemera.
  • American Ancestors - To advance the study of family history in America and beyond.It provides family historians access to more than 1 billion records spanning the U.S. and beyond, including one of the most extensive online collections of early American records, and the largest searchable collection of published genealogical research journals and magazines. Special strengths in our content include English, New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont), New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia materials.
  • -- Ancestry gives you access to thousands of collections of records from around the world, including immigration, census, voter, vital, and military records; newspapers and periodicals; family trees; photos and images; directories, maps, court, land, wills and financial records, stories, memories, and histories; and detailed records about births, marriages, deaths, land ownership, and much more. It is the largest for-profit genealogy company in the world. All family history centers have access to Library. This site has 10+ billion records. U. S. federal and state census records, vital records, passenger lists, Canadian census, church, and vital records, UK census records, birth, marriage and death indexes, and other international records.
  • ArkivDigital Online -- Swedish genealogy. ArkivDigital is the largest private provider of Swedish Church Records and other historical records online! All images are newly photographed color images of the original documents. Launch from the 'ArkivDigital Online' Start Menu or Desktop icon from a computer where the program has been installed.
  • Find My Past -- 1.7 billion international family history records from the U.S., Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand and beyond with records going back to 1200. findmypast makes it easy to research your UK ancestry and create your family tree. Search census records and trace births, marriages, and deaths to bring your family history to life.1911 British Census (accessed through the Find My Past website)–The 1911 UK Census is a record of everyone who lived in England and Wales in 1911. It provides a unique snapshot of the lives of those who lived at that time. New collections are added every month.
  • (Previously known as -- Search or browse millions of historical documents and photos. Fold3 has refocused their efforts on gathering the best online collection of military records and stories. The Fold3 name reflects military history and honor, since traditionally, the third fold in a flag-folding ceremony honors and remembers veterans for their sacrifice in defending their country and promoting peace in the world. See Using Fold3 at a Family History Center for more information.
  • Geneanet -Geneanet offers every kind of genealogy record published by researchers, genealogy societies, commercial companies, etc. Geneanet is the first site dedicated to genealogy in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Germany. The Geneanet community has two million members who exchange genealogical information.
  • Kinpoint - Kinpoint is designed to make it easier for you to do your family history by letting you see what to work on at a glance; quickly find missing information in your family tree; and discover insights into the lives of your ancestors. Simplified.
  • MyHeritage - Used by millions of people worldwide to help research family history, build a family tree, and add photos, historical records, and more.
  • Newspaper Archive - the largest historical newspaper database online, contains tens of millions of newspaper pages from 1753 to present. Every newspaper in the archive is fully searchable by keyword and date, making it easy for you to quickly explore historical content. All 50 states plus 10 countries.
  • Paper Trail - Provides access to 19th-century westward American migration documents.
  • ProQuest Obituary Listings - The ProQuest obituaries collection is a premier resource for genealogical and historical research. You can use the collection to search obituaries and death notices from prominent newspapers, such as the New York Times (dating back to 1851). The collection includes both famous and lesser-known individuals and can be searched by name or by keywords appearing in the body of the article.
  • Puzzilla - Find new research opportunities on descendant lines in FamilyTree

Software Installed at the FHC:

  • FamilySearch Indexing (to help indexing transcriptions from film to excel spreadsheets)
  • Ancestral Quest 15 Incline Software (newer update from PAF)
  • ArkivDigital Online -- Largest private provider of Swedish Church Records and other historical records online! All images are newly photographed color images of the original documents.
  • XnView XnView to capture images
  • FastStone FastStone Viewer to capture images
  • Libre Office Libre Office (Alternative to Microsoft Office. Compatibility to Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft Office 2013).
  • Snipping Tool Windows program (found in the Internal system for 7, 8, 8.1 and 10)
  • Relative Finder Relative Finder Find your cousins.

Hardware and Equipment

WDM FHC Computer.JPG Microfilms.jpg WDM FHC Bookshelf.jpeg WDM Books 3.JPG

  • 4 computers (internet access), 1 projector/screen monitor (for class lessons), 2 printer/scanner/copiers, 1 printer, 1 overhead microfilm reader, 1 microfiche reader and 1 microfiche reader/microfilm scanner. Our scanner will scan pictures & documents directly to your FamilySearch account! Lexmark will do b/w (to upload to Famiysearch) no naming file; Xerox will do color and b/w (only to flash drive stick) will let you rename files.

Center Services

Other nearby Family History Centers from Des Moines:

Other statewide FHC's in Iowa:

Satellite FHC's (has Family History portal link or film loan):

  • Danish Immigrant Museum Elk Horn, IA
  • Iowa Genealogical Society Des Moines, Iowa

Atlantic Iowa Family History Center is permanently closed (31 Aug 2017).
Glenwood Iowa Family History Center is permanently closed.

Resources in the Local Area

State Resources:

Local Resources:


State Historical Society Iowa.JPG

National Resources:

Other links:

Volunteer at the Center

Web Assistant: Tom Boelling

We welcome volunteers from the community to help serve in the Family History Center. It's a great way to help others and to learn by doing. You need not be an expert. Ability to use a computer and willingness to become familiar with the FamilySearch website and resources are key. Contact the Stake TFH Consultant - Center at the telephone or e-mail listed above for more information.