FamilySearch Centres

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FamilySearch is a nonprofit family history organisation which is part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or LDS, also known as the Mormons.

FamilySearch Centres are local branches of the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City and can be found worldwide. FamilySearch Centre (Center) is the umbrella term used for all of the centre locations. However most are still individually called Family History Centres (Centers)

Access to digitised microfilms of records in the Family History Library, which are not otherwise available on home computers, is available at these centres. However, ordering of the previously available microfilms ceased in 2017, to be replaced in time by digitised versions, refer details below. You do not have to be a member of the LDS to use a centre or their resources. Read the FamilySearch Wiki article Introduction to LDS Family History Centers for more details.

In addition, there are FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries, which may be public libraries, or libraries connected with genealogical societies, etc. Often an Affiliate Library will have longer operating hours than a FamilySearch Centre, or perhaps may be larger institutions with more computers available to view records. However, some records cannot be viewed at an Affiliate Library.

Find a Family History Center and FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries. Enter your location details, including country. If you live in a state or county, depending on country it may help to enter the state as the location, then increase the size of the map to see the Centres in the region, and greatly increase the size if you live in area where there may be two or more Centres in the same city (as otherwise the multiple Centres may not display). Alternatively, it may be sufficient to enter city and country. However, it is suggested you always increase the size of the map to check that all Centres are displaying.
This link is also available from the FamilySearch Home Page, Help tab (top right hand of the webpage, then click 'Help Centre', or alternatively 'Contact Us' but at times the Search may not operate, or provides erratic Search results. If so, leave for a while and try later.
At least some of the Centres do not provide opening times. In most centres the phone is only connected during opening times, so it may be difficult to actually make contact and find out when the Centre is open. In addition, the Centres usually do not have provision for mail enquiries. If necessary clarify by contacting FamilySearch through 'Help/ Contact Us' (provide full details of your attempts to date). There is also some information in the FamilySearch Wiki Category:Family History Centers, but not for all Centres, and Affiliate Libraries probably are not listed.

Always confirm opening times prior to a visit, as the website details, even if available, may not be up to date. Also confirm the address. Website details for some Centres do not include the address. (For one Affiliate Library noted, which is known to operate at two different addresses, only one address appeared on the FamilySearch web details, which was different to the information appearing on the Affiliate Library's website, although this has now been corrected.)

Photocopy service from Salt Lake City has now ceased

The previous photocopy service ceased 5 December 2014.

Ordering microfilms service has now ceased/digitised microfilms

The microfilm ordering service has ceased to be replaced, over time, by digitised microfilms. The last day for ordering microfilms was 7 September 2017.[1] Some Centres have retained some microfilms in their own permanent mini collections.

When a microfilm has been digitised it is also, in addition to the microfilm number, allocated a DGS number, referred to as a Digital Folder number. The latter number appears to becoming the main reference number for a record set.

Some microfilms have already been digitised, and are available through the Catalogue Search on FamilySearch, not in the Records section. A camera icon (with no other symbol) means the record may be viewed on your home computer, a camera icon with a key above it means the record is available on a restricted basis. (See images etc[2].) (Note, you need to be signed in, refer below, or a key symbol may appear for all records.) For non-LDS church researchers, records which originate from the British Library are available to be viewed on a FamilySearch computer at a FamilySearch Centre, and additionally some, but not all, are viewable at Affiliate Libraries. See "Viewing 'Protected' access online books and databases" below.

Most microfilms are expected to be digitized and available by 2020. Microfiches will be digitised after the digitisation of microfilms has been completed. However, some may not be available digitally for many years, perhaps decades, due to restrictions in the country of origin of the records, relating to data privacy restrictions, which may be more restrictive for digital images than for microfilms.[3]

If you have a film you need that has not been digitised, (as shown by the fact that there is no DGS number), you can reach out to FamilySearch support to express your interest in having that particular film being prioritised earlier in the scanning process,[4] through the "Help" or "Get Help" tab at the top right hand corner of the webpage, requesting the Historical Records Team.[5]
You may also request that books from the FamilySearch catalogue be digitised.[6]

Note that the digitised microfilm reader may be very sensitive to internet speed, so if you are viewing digitised microfilms on your home computer, try to pick a time of lower internet demand such as early or late in the day. Personal experience was that 1pm, weekday and Saturday, access was extremely unsatisfactory, early Sunday morning was much better. Unsatisfactory viewing conditions may also be experienced at some Centres, either due to internet speed, or for other reasons - you may wish to enquire about this aspect, and if so, whether any particular day or time is better and If you have more than one FHC or Affiliate Library in your area, compare viewing conditions.

Note that researchers have commented that it is much slower viewing records which have been digitised, compared with the same records on microfilm.[7] This finding is magnified if there are problems with internet speed, so it may be worth enquiring whether any Centres near you, including genealogical societies, have retained a copy of the microfilm you are interested in. For some Centres, this information may be obtained through the FamilySearch Catalog where there is an Availability option in the Search. Unclick the Online option and select your local Family History Centre from the menu available. Always confirm by telephone with your local FHC to ensure information is current.

The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA retains an extensive collection of microfilms, including all those not yet digitised,[8] (which can be ordered before your visit so they will be ready when you arrive, or you may decide to hire a researcher[9]).

Viewing restricted access online books and databases

After signing in to FamilySearch, some digitised microfilm databases will display, in the catalogue entry, a camera icon with a key symbol above which advises "this film is viewable with additional restrictions". (If you are not signed in, the key symbol may also appear, even for databases viewable on your home computer). However, members of the public can view these databases at a FamilySearch Centre on a FamilySearch Centre computer. (Access through your own laptop or other device is not possible). Some digital databases may also be viewed at Affiliate Libraries, which may have longer opening hours than a FamilySearch Centre. Contact your FamilySearch Centre prior to visiting to advise your requirements and, if it is possible, book a suitable computer (after enquiring whether internet image viewing varies by day or time, or there is poor viewing generally, refer section above). For the general public, FamilySearch records which were available on microfilm, which have since been digitised, and which originate from the British Library in London can be viewed at a Family History Centre and additionally some, but not all, can also be viewed at an Affiliate Library. LDS church members may have additional access.

A similar restriction may also apply to a limited number of online books which are in the FamilySearch Digital Library, (accessible both through the FamilySearch catalogue and by searching in the FamilySearch Digital Library).

There appear to be at least five different types of restriction wording seen by signed in, non-LDS church members either currently, or in the past:

  • "Sign in to Familysearch.org as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints".
Note: It appears to be the practice that a LDS church member will sign you in at a FamilySearch Centre in this circumstance.[10] This wording has not yet been seen on India related digitised microfilms, but if it appears, discuss with you local FamilySearch Centre, whether there will be a Centre volunteer available, who is a LDS church member, who can sign in on your behalf. Note: Now apparently withdrawn, see below.
  • "Sign in to Familysearch.org as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Access the site at a family history center".
  • "Sign in to Familysearch.org as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Access the site at a family history center. Access the site at a FamilySearch affiliate library."
Update c 22 October 2019. All references to "Sign in to Familysearch.org as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" appear to have been removed, to be replaced by the following wording for signed in, non-LDS church members: "You may be able to view this image by visiting one of our partners' sites or the legal record custodian (fees may apply)".
Note, in the past, signed-in LDS church members had access to a wider range of records than non LDS church members, and this situation continues. In particular, LDS church members were able to view the India church records originating from the British Library on their home computers, and it is believed this is still the current situation.
  • "Access the site at a family history center. Access the site at a FamilySearch affiliate library".
  • "This book may only be viewed online at the Family History Library, a family history center, or one of FamilySearch’s partner libraries". This message only applies in respect of a limited number of digitised books available in the FamilySearch Digital Library. Some FamilySearch Digital Library books cannot be viewed online at all, when the message is "This book cannot be viewed online due to copyright restrictions".
Note: Partner libraries are few in number, (refer external links below), and are not the same as affiliate libraries. In practice, this means most people need to access the digital file at a Family History Centre.

Note:

  • To access the digitised records, you will need to Sign In on the computer at the Family History Centre or Affiliate Library using your personal Sign In details, refer FamilySearch, section India Records, so take your user name and password with you, or you may experience delays.[11]
  • At times (c 2019 January, and still ongoing early April 2019), when trying to access a digital file, a message ""Image Unavailable. This image is unavailable for online viewing at this time." has been seen. However it appears this is some sort of error, and if you re-access the digital file (multiple times if necessary), the usual message that it can be viewed at a FHC or Affiliate Library should appear, and the films become viewable.[12]. Update. June 2019, this error appears to have been fixed, but details have been left for information in the event of a re-occurrence.
  • Some Affiliate Libraries such as genealogical societies may charge a visitor research fee if you are not a genealogical society member.

FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries

FamilySearch affiliate libraries include, or can include, public or university libraries, archives, museums, or genealogical societies.[13] Should you be unable to access a Family History Centre to view digitised microfilms which are also viewable at a FamilySearch affiliate library, perhaps you could discuss with your library whether it would be willing to become an affiliate library. See external links below for procedure. As the Family History Library in Salt Lake City appears to be be involved with affiliate library decisions, telephone, or perhaps Facebook, contact, with that library (refer external links below) may help if other means of contact are unsuccessful.

London, England

  • London FamilySearch Centre Note: Previous location at the National Archives, Kew has now closed, although this website advises differently.
    • The website includes a Resources Category, which includes England & Wales Jurisdictions Maps 1851, and "Really Useful Web Links".

Update 2017 The permanent microfilm collection from the London Family History Centre at Kew has been given to the Society of Genealogists, and has been available at SOG for consultation from August 2017. Society of Genealogists is a FamilySearch Affiliate Library.

Note some records may be available online, but may be slower to view than the microfilms. Refer comments above, under "Ordering microfilms service has now ceased/digitised microfilms". Check the FamilySearch catalogue to see those records which you can view on your home computer.

Update. 2019: London FamilySearch Centre at The National Archives closed permanently on Saturday, 23 March 2019.[14]
The National Archives has agreed to become a FamilySearch Affiliate Library.[15]

Australia and New Zealand

Note that the Centres listed below are a selection only of those available. Affiliate Libraries are included as they generally have longer opening hours. Note however, Affiliate Libraries currently do not have access to some FamilySearch records originating from the British Library, important for India research, although Affiliate Libraries were able to provide access in the past to all records from the British Library.

NSW

For those in or near Sydney, NSW, Australia it is recommended that you attend the LDS Family History Centre at North Parramatta. This Centre holds many India related films of records from the British Library permanently onsite, including all the baptism, marriage and burial indexes, indexes relating to wills, Registers of European Soldiers Services to 1860 and some of the IOR O series records. In the past (c November 2009) Thursdays and Saturdays usually had librarians on duty who have a particular interest in India. Enquire about the current situation. Details:

Address: 169 Pennant Street
North Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia
(Situated near James Ruse Drive, Parramatta side, and opposite the intersection with Isabella Street))
The Centre is situated towards the rear of the LDS chapel, left hand side, near the parking area. The Centre has its own entrance, so do not try to enter through the LDS chapel.
Public transport: 545 bus from Parramatta station to Chatswood station.
Phone: (02)9683 5849
Opening hours given on the website, (current at September 2017): 10.30am- 2.30pm Tuesdays, Thursdays and 2nd and 3rd Saturdays. Closed School Holidays and Public Holidays. Note, no details at all provided provided October 2019.
Phone prior to your visit, when the Centre is open, and book a film reader or computer, depending on what you need to use. Confirm opening times.
No phone messages or mail enquiries. (The phone is disconnected outside of opening hours)

For details currently available on the website, type Parramatta in the Search and click on the icon on the map. Always confirm opening times, (and address) by telephone prior to a visit, as the website details may not be up to date.

Update October 2019. The Parramatta Family History Centre appears to have closed. The computers are thought to have been relocated to the Baulkham Hills Family History Centre at 77 Watkins Road, Baulkham Hills, NSW - telephone number (02) 9686 4170, but it is unknown whether the microfilm collection also went to the same FHC. It has been suggested that the Family History Department of the (Australia) LDS Church Offices in Carlingford (NSW) may be able to give further information.

If you are not interested in microfilm held onsite, but only on viewing digitised microfilms, and want to access records which are available at an Affiliate Library, in the Sydney region Society of Australian Genealogists located in the Sydney Central Business District is a FamilySearch Affiliate Library and may be preferred as it has more extensive hours than most FHCs and may be a more convenient location for some researchers. A visitor research fee applies if you are not a SAG member.

Victoria

  • Melbourne. The two following societies are FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries. A visitor research fee may apply if you are not a society member.
Family History Connections, the registered business name of Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies (AIGS). Unit 1, 41 Railway Rd (corner of Queen St) Blackburn VIC 3130 (Opposite the Blackburn Railway Station). Has a large collection of India material including some permanent FamilySearch microfilms. Search the online catalogue.
Genealogical Society of Victoria Level 6, 85 Queen Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000. Also has some microfilms.
  • The LDS FHC at Blackburn closed 1 October 2010 . The Centre's collection of India Office Lists 1886-1940 were transferred to the Heidelberg Family History Centre.

Queensland

  • FamilySearch Affiliate Library: Genealogical Society of Queensland 25 Stackpole Street on the corner of Mt Gravatt Capalaba Road, Wishart, QLD 4122. A visitor research fee may apply if you are not a society member.
  • The Rockhampton Family History Centre in Queensland, Australia has a set of indexes for baptism, marriage and burial in the three presidencies.

Western Australia

Australian Capital Territory

Northern Territory

  • FamilySearch Affiliate Library: Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory Inc Location of the Library is 84 Smith Street Darwin, between Searcy and Whitfield Streets - opposite the in/out ramp of the China Town Carpark. A visitor research fee applies if you are not a society member.

New Zealand

The following are FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries.

  • Auckland. Central Auckland Research Centre, part of Auckland Libraries. Central City Library, Level 2, 44-46 Lorne Street, Auckland.
  • Wellington. Alexander Turnbull Library (National Library of New Zealand, Wellington). General Reading Room & FamilySearch Service, Level 1, 70 Molesworth Street Thorndon 6011. Research guide: Family History from NLNZ contains a section "FamilySearch at the National Library".

External links

For non standard telephone enquires, try the Family History Library Director's assistant (details[16]).
For email contact, try [email protected] with “Family History Library” as the subject. (This is suggested by analogy, see Affiliate Libraries, below.)
Category:Family History Library FamilySearch Wiki
FamilySearch CGO David Rencher New Family History Library Director 22 August 2018. FamilySearch.

References

  1. Digital Records Access Replacing Microfilm FamilySearch
  2. Digital Icons at FamilySearch searchtip.genealogytipoftheday.com; Thank-you for the new icon, FamilySearch dearmyrtle.com, now archived. What are Notes or Film/Digital Notes in the catalog? FamilySearch.
  3. Paller Orvill S. South Africa, Dutch Reformed Church Records (Stellenbosch Archive), 1690-2011 FamilySearch Feedback Forum 28 February 2018, 23.59. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  4. What if a microfilm I need for my research is not available digitally on FamilySearch.org? FamilySearch. Currently (2019 October) microfiche cannot be digitised.
  5. Requesting that FamilySearch digitize (scan) a microfilm FamilySearch
  6. Request to digitize a book on FamilySearch.org FamilySearch
  7. Clark, Noel. LDS FHC Microfilms to be ending August 31st Rootsweb India Mailing List 16 July 2017. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  8. Will microfilm continue to be available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City? FamilySearch
  9. Nielsen, Jeniann. The need for photoduplication service has NOT gone away!!! FamilySearch Feedback Forum 27 July 2019. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  10. Linda. Viewing restricted images at FHC by non-members Family Search Feedback Forum 31 August 2018. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  11. November and December 2017 Newsletters from Society of Australian Genealogists, a FamilySearch Affiliate Library, and April 2018 Newsletter from Society of Genealogists, London, a FamilySearch Affiliate Library
  12. Millar, Stewart Digitised microfilm viewing restriction query FamilySearch Feedback Forum 8 January 2019. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  13. Introduction to LDS Family History Centers, section FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries. FamilySearch Wiki. Some required conditions to become an affiliate library are set out in Perry County Historical Society earns FamilySearch Affiliate Library certification July 15, 2015. perryvillenews.com.
  14. Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter February 25, 2019
  15. Changes to the reading rooms 20 March 2019. nationalarchives.gov.uk
  16. Archibald, Amy. Have you considered having a "Return book" cart on the second floor for those of us who retrieve a book from the third floor? FamilySearch Feedback Forum 8 January 2019. Retrieved 9 January 2019.