Family History Centers
Family History Centers (FHCs) are units of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). In 2009, there were over 4500 FHCs in 88 countries which are resources for research and study of Genealogy and Family history.
The smaller FHCs focus on LDS local units called 'wards' and member teaching. Larger units are called 'stakes' and are the parent body of multiple wards and or branches (similar to a ward but over a larger geographic area). The next level is a multiple stake FHC facility. Regional FHCs are usually "Library Class" facilities designated as true branch libraries of the Salt Lake City Family History Library.
Ward, Stake and Multi-Stake Family History Centers
Family History Centers vary greatly in size, hours staffed, and resources available. Because of changing demographics, many smaller FHCs are closing and resources being directed into "Library Class" facilities similar to the Riverton, Utah facility open in June 2010.
Most smaller FHCs can not order Microfilm and microfiche from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The centers that do not order films are usually located close to others that do. As of April 2010, the charge for ordering a film was $5.98 in the United States for the initial order and the same price for renewal. After the second renewal the microfilm is designated as a long term loan for the FHC. Most Family History Centers provide some type of access to a number of subscription databases. Mid range FHCs may have small book collections.
The "Ward FHC" is the smallest consisting of at least one computer, related family history programs, most likely internet access and has the most variable hours per week due to the volunteer staff. The Ward FHC may or may not have a dedicated room for their FHC since most ward buildings are designed for multiple use. They may or may not have microfilm or microfliche readers.
The "Stake FHC", representing about 4 to 6 ward or branches units, is the next in size consisting of two or more computers, related family history programs, internet access and usually has better hours per week than Ward FHCs. Stake FHCs may have a small collection of CDs, books and local historical material. The Stake FHC usually has a dedicated room staffed by volunteers. Most have microfilm or microfliche readers and the ability to order film/fliche from Salt Lake City FH library.
The "Multi-Stake FHCs" & "Large Multi-Stake FHCs" represents two or more Stakes units consisting of 8 or more wards and/or branches. These have larger dedicated areas of a Stake Center or a separate building for the use of the FHC. These larger FHCs have dedicated book, microfilm, and mircofliche areas. They have 6 or more computers with varied phone line, cable, or satellite internet access, family history software and often insitutional version of Ancestry.com, Footnote.com and maybe other paid access sites. All have microfilm or microfliche readers and the ability to order film/fliche from Salt Lake City FH library. Most have local area FH material, but are not "Library Class" facilities.
Large Multi-Stake FHCs
The "Regional Branch Libraries" of the Salt Lake City Family History Library are considered "Library class" facilities. These were complete with dedicated internal server and a library catalogs or card catalogs for their collections. In 2010, the regional branch libraries were redesignated as "Large Multi-Stake FHCs" on the FamilySearch website. These branch libraries have dedicated book collections in the thousands, microfilm & microfliche in the tens of thousands, dozens of internet connected computers and microfilm & microfliche readers and some digital scanners. All have dedicated servers with DSL, cable or T-1 internet access. In addition all had at least one multi-use classroom, and several research areas.
These branch libraries have a dedicated non-paid full-time director (usually a husband/wife team) and dozens of volunteer staff. In many cases non-church member volunteers serve from the community. Local genealogy groups often support these library facilities seeing non-LDS patron use higher than local LDS usage.
The Salt Lake City Genealogical Library was founded in 1894 to gather genealogical records and assist members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with their family history and genealogical research. It is the largest library of its kind in the world. It is open to the general public at no charge. The Family History Library is visited by an estimated 1,900 or more individual patrons visit each day. By 1975 there were 17 "Branch Libraries" around the world.<ref name=Allen/>
The library collection has 2.4 million rolls of Family History Library Microfilmed genealogical records and over 742,000 microfiche in the main system. In 2003, the collection increased monthly by an average of 4,100 rolls of film, 700 books, and 16 electronic resources. A majority of the records contain information about persons who lived before 1930. Approximately 200 cameras are currently microfilming records in over 45 countries. Records have been filmed in over 110 countries, territories, and possessions.
The first Family History Center (FHC), then called a branch genealogical library, was organized in the Harold B. Lee Library on Brigham Young University Campus in May, 1964. Plans had been announced at October General Conference of 1963 to organize family history centers in Mesa, Arizona, Logan, Utah, Cardston, Alberta and Oakland, California, all adjacent to the temples in those cities.
The Family History Centers were put under the overall direction of Archibald F. Bennett. By December, 1964 there were 29 FHCs and by 1968, 75. In 1987, these institutions were renamed "family history centers."
The Ancestral File database contains more than 36 million names that are linked into families.
- The International Genealogical Index database contains approximately 600 million names of deceased individuals. An addendum to the International Genealogical Index contains an additional 125 million names. These names have been patron submitted or extracted from thousands of original birth, christening and marriage records.
- The Pedigree Resource File database contains over 80 million names that are linked into families. Records are available are from the United States, Canada, the British Isles, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
- The Social Security Death Index represents millions who were in the social security system before death.
- Census Records from 1880 United States Federal Census, and the 1881 British & Canadian censuses.
- Vital Records Index for Mexico and Scandinavia only representing thousands of names.
- In 2003, the collection increased monthly by an average of 4,100 rolls of film, 700 books, and 16 electronic resources. • A majority of the records contain information about persons who lived before 1930. • Approximately 200 cameras are currently microfilming records in over 45 countries. Records have been filmed in over 110 countries, territories, and possessions.
Digitization and indexing projects
In the late 1990s, a "pilot program" to update familysearch.org and digitize its entire collection was started using volunteers to input or "index" census and other data. This new genealogical index is considered an upgrade to "Record Search" It is a work in progress representing 426 regions around the world. Millions of new names have been inputted by volunteers. Volunteers to the project are now being actively solicited at FamilySearchIndexing.org. The searchable database containing the digital images and index will be available through the church's FamilySearch website.
- Allen, James B.; Jessie L. Embry; Kahlile B. Mehr. Hearts Turned to the Fathers: A History of the Genealogical Society of Utah. Provo: BYU Studies, 1995.
- Family history centers in Salt Lake area will be consolidated, Shill, Aaron, Mormon Times, Deseret News Publishing Company, accessed June 7, 2010. http://www.mormontimes.com/article/13734/Family-history-centers-in-Salt-Lake-area-will-be-consolidated
- http://www.intl-research.com/overview.htm AAG International Research Published by: AAG International Research
- http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/FHL/frameset_library.asp About the Family History Library Publisher: FamilySearch.org
- FamilySearch.org for information on family history center locations
- Family History Library research wiki
- New York FHCs representing ward, stake and other Family History Centers.
- Los Angeles Family History Library formerly known as the "Los Angeles Regional Family History Center" is now designated as a "Large Multi-Stake Family History Center" by the LDS Church, but not by its supporting genealogical organizations and patrons (members and non-members).
- Family History Library Official Site
- FamilySearch Indexing
- San Diego California Large Multi-Stake Family History Center