Update 16 December 2020: coronavirus pandemic closures. Some FamilySearch Centres and FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries are now open, depending on location, after a general close down from March 2020. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City remains closed. If you live in an area where churches and libraries generally are open, check with your local FamilySearch Centre and/or check with your local Affiliate Library about FamilySearch access.
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, click on icon marked ? (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 'icon marked ?/ 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.)
- 1 Photocopy service from Salt Lake City has now ceased
- 2 Ordering microfilms service has now ceased/digitised microfilms
- 3 Viewing restricted access online books and databases
- 4 FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries
- 5 London, England
- 6 Australia and New Zealand
- 7 External links
- 8 References
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. 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. (The URL for a record set has the format (at 2020/02) https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/004769478 where the last number is the DGS number).
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.) (Note, you need to be signed in, refer below, or a key or microfilm only, or even no 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.
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, through the 'icon marked ?/Contact us' at the top right hand corner of the webpage, requesting the Historical Records Team.
You may also request that books from the FamilySearch catalogue be digitised.
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. 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, (which can be ordered before your visit so they will be ready when you arrive, or you may decide to hire a researcher).
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, a key, or microfilm only, or even no symbol may also appear, even for databases viewable on your home computer). However, members of the public can view most (but not all) of 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 currently (2021/02) can also be viewed at an Affiliate Library. Note however in the past access at Affiliate Libraries has varied, and some microfilms originating from the British Library have not been available at Affiliate Libraries. 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".
- This wording has not yet been seen on India related digitised microfilms. Note: This wording now 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. For records restricted to LDS church members only, consultants at FamilySearch Centres have been instructed "Consultants should not sign in to allow members of the public to access restricted images. Such sharing can violate contracts between FamilySearch and the records custodian".
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.. 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. 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 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.
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 Affiliate Libraries currently have access to FamilySearch digitised records originating from the British Library, important for India research, however, for some periods in the past this was not the situation for all such records, so make sure you check any restrictions applying through the Family Search catalogue.
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. The Family History Department of the (Australia) LDS Church Offices in Carlingford (NSW) (telephone 1300-537-248) advised that the microfilms are thought to have gone to Baulkham Hills also.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- FamilySearch Affiliate Library: Western Australian Genealogical Society Inc 6/48 May Street, Bayswater, WA 6053. A visitor research fee may apply if you are not a society member.
Australian Capital Territory
- FamilySearch Affiliate Library: Heraldry & Genealogy Society of Canberra Cook Community Hub, 41 Templeton Street, Cook ACT. A visitor research fee applies if you are not a society member.
- 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.
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".
- Family History Library FamilySearch website launched c mid February 2021. Prior to that, and still concurrently
- Family History Library FamilySearch Wiki.
- Includes a link to the Family History Library on Facebook.
- includes a link to "How to donate to the Family History Library" in respect of books etc.
- For non standard telephone enquires, try the Family History Library Director's assistant (details).
- 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.
- FamilySearch Partner Libraries FamilySearch Wiki. Note: Partner Libraries are not the same as Affiliate Libraries, although most Partner Libraries are probably also Affiliate Libraries.
- Affiliate Libraries
- How to Become a FamilySearch Affiliate Library June 6, 2019. FamilySearch Blog. Includes the contact email address: [email protected] with “Affiliate Libraries” as the subject.
- Frequently Asked Questions: FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries June 6, 2019 FamilySearch Blog.
- How do we become an affiliate library? FamilySearch.
- Our affiliate library needs access to restricted images FamilySearch
- FamilySearch Contact Us applicable for Government, Business, and other Archives entities.
- What are the image restrictions in Historical Records? FamilySearch Help
- What genealogy websites are available in family history centers? FamilySearch Help. These websites must be accessed on a FamilySearch computer at a FamilySearch Centre, and are not available at Affiliate Libraries. Includes findmypast, Ancestry, and fold3 (owned by Ancestry), and in the United Kingdom only, The Genealogist. In addition, although not currently [20 February 2021] on the list, the website Filae, a resource for accessing French archives and tracing French ancestors, may also be accessed from FamilySearch Centres, see the FS Help article. (Filae is also a Partner for Latter day Saints Church members.)
- Digital Records Access Replacing Microfilm FamilySearch
- 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.
- Paller Orvill S. South Africa, Dutch Reformed Church Records (Stellenbosch Archive), 1690-2011 FamilySearch Feedback Forum 28 February 2018, 23.59, now archived.
- How do I request that a microfilm be digitized? FamilySearch. Currently (2020 November) microfiche cannot be digitised.
- Can I request that FamilySearch digitize a book? FamilySearch
- Clark, Noel. LDS FHC Microfilms to be ending August 31st Rootsweb India Mailing List 16 July 2017, archived.
- I want to search the microfilms at the Family History Library FamilySearch
- Nielsen, Jeniann. The need for photoduplication service has NOT gone away!!! FamilySearch Feedback Forum 27 July 2019, now archived.
- FitzPatrick, Bill Does anyone know why these Sersheim Church record images are not available at the FHL? FamilySearch Questions Forum scroll to reply by Jeff Wiseman dated 23 February 2021. Accessed 23 February 2021.
- 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
- Millar, Stewart Digitised microfilm viewing restriction query FamilySearch Feedback Forum 8 January 2019, now archived.
- 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.
- Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter February 25, 2019
- Changes to the reading rooms 20 March 2019. nationalarchives.gov.uk
- 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, now archived.