David recently returned as part of a team of 7 members who traveled to Salt Lake City in November 2009 to do research at the Family History Library, established in 1894 by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). "The vast collection of information is truly impressive," he began, "with 5 floors of genealogy, including British, American, and International, arranged according to surname books and microfilms. More than 2,500,000 microfilms are available, representing data from 250 countries, in more than 1,000,000,000 (one billion) records, with more added every day."
At the Library in Salt Lake City, or at any of the many branch LDS Family History Centers around the world, a researcher can access unique data bases that are accessible only through the LDS internal system. Included among these are: Holocaust records, British Newspapers of the 19th century, Periodical Source Index, digitized family histories from the Brigham Young University Library, World Catalog, American Civil War, World Vital Records, and considerably more. Using these databases the researcher can identify the call number of a book or a microfilm. "The books do not circulate," David said, "but the microfilm can be accessed at the Family History Library, or can be requested on a borrowing basis at any local Family History Center for a small fee."
From home, however, researchers can also access "a large family of websites associated with the FamilySearch.Org site," according to David. For example, a special “pilot” site at http://pilot.familysearch.org/ contains experimentally organized data that are evolving constantly. New data are being entered every day, with a long-term project involving digitization by volunteers. Eventually a huge proportion of the data base will be in digital form.
David provided a list of the current websites associated with FamilySearch.Org which will be useful to family historians from home or elsewhere. "As with all web addresses, they may continually change," he warned and suggested that a Google search might find their changed address. These are the websites David recommended as most useful and their purposes, at least as of December 2009:
- General information and surname searches: http://www.familysearch.org/
- Pilot Site for new developments, digitization projects, and searches: http://pilot.familysearch.org/
- Library holdings at Family History Library: www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlc/frameset_fhlc.asp
- Wiki (encyclopedia)--detailed data on many topics: wiki.familysearch.org/en/Browse_by_Country
- Search catalog for microfilm numbers: www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlc/frameset_fhlc.asp
- Brigham Young University Family History Archive books: http://www.familyhistoryarchive.byu.edu/
- Research Guidance for searchers: www.familysearch.org/eng/search/rg/frameset_rhelps.asp
- Indexing Project and signing up to volunteer to help: http://www.familysearchindexing.org/
- New Product Previews: http://www.labs.familysearch.org/
- Finding LDS Batch numbers for International Genealogical Index: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~hughwallis/
- Family History Library favorite sites according to country and then category: http://www.fhlfavorites.com/bookmark.htm
Information on the Brewster Family History Center