Saturday, June 6, 2009

Family History Centers

I want to introduce you to your Family History Center. Most of you will live within driving distance of at least one Family History Center and if you haven’t visited one you are missing out on a great resource. Family History Centers are extensions of the Family History Library located in Salt Lake City, Utah and there are more than 4,500 worldwide.

They differ in size and yet they all have the ability to help you in your research. They have different hours of operation and a variety of staff that vary in their expertise. Some of the staff may just be learning how best to help you and some will have answers to all your questions. The staff is unpaid and most are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Let me show you how to find where the nearest Family History Center is to you. You’ll want to open your internet and go to . On the home page you will find part way down the center column ‘Find A Family History Center’. Just beneath you will be able to type in your state, province or country…then click on search.

All the Family History Centers in your state, province or country will be listed. The listing will contain the location (address) and phone number. The hours of operation are also listed. A word of caution from me to you would be to call the phone number during a time that the FHC is listed as being open. Talk with a staff person and confirm their hours. Sometimes the days and hours change and it is good to double check before you make the trip.

Now… what do you do? Please don’t take your whole box of genealogy with you. As with all resources we approach it with one, maybe two tasks. Take a family group sheet with you as a child, your parents and your grandparents with all the dates and place names of birth, marriage and death that you know. If you are further along in your research take the identifying information you will need. Remember, you want to work from the ‘known to the unknown’, so spend some time establishing a good foundation. The FHC will have computers, internet access, microfilm and microfiche readers, reference books and other material that will be a great help. Many have copiers and some now have digital copiers.

You will become friends with the staff and they will enjoy helping you. They are trained ‘not to fish’ for you but to help you ‘learn to fish’.

While at your FHC be sure to ask if there are classes, seminars, conferences or special firesides on Family History that you might attend. These venues are often sponsored by the FHC and they also post genealogical events that are sponsored by other groups.

Be gracious and always let them know how grateful you are for their assistance. Enjoy all that your Family History Center has to offer you.

Happy hunting.

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