Live Research Assistance: Ready Reference

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Ready Reference Guide for Research Assistants
Updated May 2013


How to access the FamilySearch Knowledge Documents

1. Go to

2. Click Get Help (upper right of page)

3. Click Help Center

4. Click Product Support

5. Search by topic

Additional Research Assistance for Patrons

The following Knowledge Document answers questions about where to get help with research.

See KD 114226  - Ways to get help with Research Assistance

Access to Restricted Records

The following Knowledge Document and video answer questions about why some historical records cannot be viewed and why some collections at FamilySearch lead to “for pay” sites.

See KD 113823 - Access to Records video at (free records and paid sites)

Adoption Questions

See Wiki article:United States Adoption Research

Privacy Laws dictate that most adoption records be sealed. Researchers need to contact the state in which the adoption occurred. Adoptions/Divorces and other issues which involve private and legal assistance are not within the scope of service of Live Research Assistance

Books at FamilySearch

The following resources help answer questions about how to search and view online digitized books at

See KD 114808 “Accessing online Family History Books”

Note: The FamilySearch Library does not loan or sell the books in its collection. See FamilySearch Wiki article entitled,Research Buying, Borrowing, or Searching a Book]”- 

Browse Images Collection

The following Knowledge Document can be used to teach researchers how to browse the historical records collections at to find their ancestors.

See a video tutorial: Using the "Browse Images" Collections
See KD: 101475- How to use collections that say "browse images" in Historical Records

Catalog Questions

See Wiki article “Introduction to the Family History Library Catalog” - 

The FamilySearch Catalog describes the genealogical resources held by Family History Library. It is a guide to family histories; birth, marriage, and death records; census records; church registers; books, periodicals and many other records that may contain genealogical information. These records may be in a book, on microfiche or microfilm, searchable online or in a computer file. Most microfilm and microfiche records can be sent to your nearest Family History Center.

Church History Library

Phone: 801-240-2272  website

The Church History Library collects materials by or about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members. These materials come from a wide spectrum of sources and represent numerous points of view. Users of the catalog should not assume that the Church or the Library endorses every item in the collection.

Ask a Librarian - This service allows you to submit questions to our archivists and librarians, who will attempt to provide you with helpful information about where you might be able to find information on the subject of your question.

Church Operator

[PLEASE DO NOT give the telephone number for the Church Operator to patrons.] This number is reserved for use by FamilySearch missionaries and volunteers only.

Instead, offer the Research Assistance phone numbers, 866-406-1830 or 866-234-2067.

Correcting Errors in Historical Records

The following Knowledge Document helps answer questions about making corrections to records found in the  Historical Records collections at

See KD 101553 - Correcting Errors in Historical Records

For any other questions pertaining to Historical Records, it is best to email or call our support number 866-406-1830.

Please include enough information about the collection or search so that our Research Assistants can replicate your problem.

Digitization of books and films

The following Knowledge document will direct researchers who wish to have books or other records filmed.

See KD 103465 - Request to digitize a book that is described in the Family History Library Catalog

Facebook Research Communities

FamilySearch has set up Facebook pages for every state in the United States and for 49 foreign countries. The purpose of these Facebook pages is to provide you with family history research guidance in each of these areas. You can ask questions, or you may be able to help others with your information and expertise.

See wiki article Research communities on Facebook

Family History Library

Telephone Numbers for the public:

• Research Help: 866-406-1830

• Classes, Hours, Parking: 801-240-6536

• Lost and Found: 801-240-3527

• Vault Requests: 801-240-7378 (U.S. and Canada) 801 240- 2334 (International)

See KD 113744 How to Pre-Order Films for use at the FHL

[DO NOT share the Family History Library front desk telephone number with patrons. It is reserved for use by FamilySearch Missionaries and Volunteers only.]



Film Digitization Requests

See KD 103465. “Request to digitize local records not found in the FamilySearch catalog”

Requests for the digital filming of genealogical records "on site," that are not currently found in the Family History Library Catalog, are coordinated by FamilySearch International. Please send e-mail request to one of the following individuals:

• For filming of U.S. records, direct the patron to send an e-mail to (Dan Peay).

• For international filming requests, direct the patron to send an e-mail to (Ashley Poore).

Filtering Searches

The following resources help researchers get better results when searching historical records at FamilySearch

Video Demonstration - Finding Records: Using Filters to Get Better Search Results

Future Collections

See KD 105016 - Questions about future collections in Historical Records

Getting started with your family history

FamilySearch website – Getting Started With Your Family History -

FamilySearch Learning Center / Take a Course -

Hiring a Professional Researcher

See Wiki article - “Hiring a Professional Researcher” 

Index – Requests for a Collection to be Indexed

See KD 101640 – “Requests to index a private collection (or specific project) or make donations to the Family History Library”

- Email all of the requested information in the article to, attention Carolyn Bellamy

- Researchers who would like to have a collection indexed by FamilySearch need to contact Jennifer Kearns Davis at

International Genealogical Index

The following resources will help researchers who wish to search and understand the IGI collections.

KD 114360 - "How to locate and search the IGI"

KD 5139p_en - "How to view the original source information for entries in the IGI"

KD 114258 - "FAQs about the IGI"

See FamilySearch Wiki article entitled "International Genealogical Index."

International Research Consultants

Research Assistance handles researcher interactions on behalf of the Family History Library, 

Contact: or phone 866-406-1830 or 866-234-2067

See wiki article - FamilySearch Community tools  

There are also many international Facebook pages.  See the Facebook section of this reference.

Jewish Holocaust Records

According to the agreements between the Church and Jewish groups records were removed from the International Genealogical Index (IGI). All other Church genealogical records (such as the Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource File) still contain Jewish names.

See KD 108425 – “Ordinances for family members who were victims of the Jewish Holocaust”
See the “Jewish Holocaust” article in the FamilySearch Wiki.

Known Issues

When a patron has trouble viewing records always check KD 114100 first to see if there is a known issue concerning that collection.

See KD 114100 for a list of wiki articles about Known Issues that have been identified with some of the FamilySearch Historical Record Collections.

Legal Rights to use Images Found on Historical Records for Personal Use

Researchers must acquire written permission from the custodian of the original records before publishing an image of a record.

See KD 111007 “Legal rights to use images found on Historical Records for personal use”

Living - Research

Privacy laws and the privacy rights of individuals prevent us from helping research living "lost" family members or members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Records for the living can be found in our historical records and researchers are free to avail themselves of those resources. 

See KD 100659 – “I would like help locating a living person”

See wiki article -Finding People in the United States  

The above article contains suggestions to help patrons research living relatives. 

Microfilm Ordering

1. Locate the film you wish to order in the Family History Library catalog and click on the film number.

2. Go to and order multiple films at the same time.
You can order films on the FamilySearch Microfilm Ordering Page.

See Wiki article Ordering Microfilm or Microfiche

Microfilm Ordering by Telephone

Once an area has moved to the Online Film Ordering method of placing film orders, all ordering is done by the patrons directly from their homes or FamilySearch center and using Online Film Ordering

See KD 101407 “Patron wants to order microfilm over the phone”

Name Removal Requests

Researchers who request that records be removed from historical records collections need to contact [mailto:] and put Privacy - Record Removal in the title of the email.

IMPORTANT - See KD 113989 – “Procedure for name removal from a collection in Historical Records”.  The attached Affidavit of Identity must accompany all requests.

Name Removal from the Social Security Death Index

See KD 102166 – “How to make corrections to Social Security Death Index”

Permission to Post FamilySearch Images on another Website or in another Public Format

Written permission from the custodian of the original records must be obtained before publishing an image of a record or document.


Patrons who have found a source on a microfilm and wish to request a copy of a record from the film may make a photoduplication request from the Family History Library.

KD 101748 – “How to request a photocopy of records, books, documents”

See wiki article -  Services Photoduplication services

For questions, please call 801-240-3511 or 801-240-7843.

Privacy Issues

Privacy laws for records of genealogical value can differ by record type and geographic location. FamilySearch respects and strives to adhere to all privacy laws respective to preserving and providing access to genealogical records in its collection.

If you have further questions about privacy laws, please contact:

FamilySearch International
Legal Services--Rights
Phone: 1-800-453-3860, ext. 2-4612

No Images are Available

See KD 109526 “Why do some collections in Historical Records not have images”

Although FamilySearch may not publish some images online, the images can often be found on a microfilm copy.  If a microfilm copy exists, it will be displayed in the indexed details for the record as the Source Film Number or GS number. The films may be ordered and viewed at local FamilySearch centers or the Family History Library or affiliate libraries.

See KD 106774: "How to find an image in the FamilySearch Catalog using the film number found in Historical Records"

Note: An additional resource for locating images can be found by clicking the Learn More link below the Collection Description. It links to a WIKI article, which contains additional information about the collection and sometimes points to the original record custodian or websites that host similar records.

Options and Tips for Searching Historical Records

See KD 1016401 – “Options and Tips for Searching Historical Records”

Research Assistance Phone Numbers

1-866-234-2067 or 866 – 406-1830

Requests for Data from Scientific Communities

FamilySearch will share certain genealogical data sets with academic institutions via a restricted use license in order to foment and encourage research in areas such as historical demography, geography, statistics, history, genetics, and computer science.

Email Jake Gehring, Director, Data

See KD 115003 “Procedure for requesting data from historical records for academic purposes”

Research Scope of Service

The goal of FamilySearch Research Assistance is to guide patrons to resources which will enable them to research and find their ancestors. Due to the high volume of researchers requesting help, we answer research questions on a 1 case / 1 question basis rather than providing ongoing or repeated help with family research.

For those who need extensive help reseaching their ancestors, we recommend that they visit a nearby FamilySearch center where volunteers can sit down with them and help them or to hire a professional researcher.


Photoduplication is a service provided to FamilySearch patrons who would like film copies of records or pages in books that can be found in the Family History Library, but not elsewhere. Please read the following guidelines before making a photduplication request.

See KD 101748 – “How to request a photocopy of records, books, documents”

See Wiki article “Photoduplication Services”

Restricted Records in FamilyTree

See KD 107501 – “One of my ancestors or descendants has a restricted record”

People are considered to be living unless there is death information in the record or else 110 years have passed since their birth. If you add records of living people, you might encounter this problem.

Search How To’s

KD 114099 - "How to apply filters to your search results in historical records"
KD 101726 - "When I search for a person, why do I see results for a spouse, child or parent?" [1]
KD 113107 - Features of the search results page in historical records." [2]
KD 106641 - "How to search historical records by region, locality or country." [3]
KD 106515 - "How to find an ancestor using" [4]
KD 113861 - "How to search teh 1940 U.S. census collection."

Skype Research Communities

FamilySearch has set up Skype research communites for several foreign countries. The purpose of these  pages is to provide you with family history research guidance in each of these areas. You can ask a question, or you can share your expertise to  help someone else.

See the wiki article "Research Communities on Skype"

Social Security Death Index

See KD 104899 – “Incorrect information in a Social Security Death Index record”

See Wiki article, “Social Security Death Index (SSDI)”

If a patron calls or sends an email regarding incorrect information on a Social Security Death Index, inform them that they should go to their local Social Security office about their concern and they should take documentation with them.

Training Videos

To find a list for several training videos, See the FamilySearch Wiki article, FamilySearch Records training videos

Vault Films

It may take up to three days for a microfilm to be delivered to the library. For this reason films listed in the catalog as "Vault" films need to be requested and may take up to three days to retrieve. For larger vault film requests of 15 or more films, please give at least one week notice. Visiting groups requesting 30 or more films need to give at least two weeks’ notice.

See Wiki article: “Request a Vault Film before Visiting the Family History Library

Phone Number: 801 240-7378 or 801 240-2334

Volunteer Information and Registration

From the home page of at the top of the page click"Volunteer""Volunteer" or at the bottom left click “Volunteer Today.”

Wiki Support

See FamilySearch Wiki article “Wiki: About Us”