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Family History Center

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Family History Center

Family History Centers (FHCs) are units of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). In 2009, there were more than 4,500 FHCs in 88 countries. The centers supply resources for research and study of genealogy and family history.

The smallest FHCs are targeted toward people living within the boundaries of individual local wards and branches. Stakes and districts may house a FHC for their constituent wards/branches, or may share a facility with multiple stakes/districts in their area. Regional FHCs are usually "library class" facilities designated as true branch libraries of the Salt Lake City Family History Library (FHL). FHCs with established hours of operation are open to members of the LDS Church and nonmembers alike.

Ward, Stake and Multi-Stake Family History Centers

Family History Centers vary greatly in size, hours staffed, and resources available.[1] Because of changing demographics, many smaller FHCs are closing with their resources being directed into "Library Class" facilities similar to the Los Angeles Family History Library, but not like the Riverton FamilySearch Center that has computers only.[2]

Most smaller FHCs cannot order microfilm and microfiches from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City (these do not circulate, but are used only in the FHC using FHC machines). The centers that do not order films are usually located close to others that do. As of February 2012, the charge for ordering a film was $7.50 (local and state taxes additional) in the United States for the initial order and the same price for renewal. If a FHC is not yet on the online ordering system, then after the second renewal the microfilm is designated as a long-term loan for the FHC. On the other hand, for FHCs using the online system, the patron must explicitly select the Extended loan type. Under those circumstances, the film will not automatically roll over to the long-term category and be permanently held at the local FHC no matter how many times it has been renewed.

Various geographic areas are converting to online ordering of microfilm, and this should be completed by 2013 in North America. When a FHC is on the online system, it will no longer order films for patrons. Patrons must then use either an LDS account or a FamilySearch account to order their own microfilms via the Internet.

Most of the larger Family History Centers provide some type of free access to a number of online subscription databases (e.g., Mid-range FHCs may have small local book collections.

Ward FHC

The "Ward FHC" is the smallest, consists of at least one computer, related family history programs, most likely Internet access, and has the most variable hours per week because it has a volunteer staff. The ward (single congregation) FHC may or may not have a dedicated room in the ward building ("meetinghouse"), because most ward buildings are designed for multiple use. Such an FHC may or may not have microfilm or microfiche readers.[3]

Stake FHC

The "Stake FHC," which serves about four to six ward or branch units (congregations), is the next in size and consists of two or more computers, related family history programs, Internet access, and usually offers more hours per week of service than does the ward FHC. Stake FHCs may have a small collection of CDs, books, and local historical materials. A Stake FHC usually has a dedicated room staffed by volunteers. Most have microfilm or microfiche readers and the ability to receive film/fiches from the Salt Lake City Family History Library (FHL).[3]

Multi-Stake FHC

The "Multi-Stake FHC" serves two or more stake units consisting of eight or more wards and/or branches (congregations). These have larger dedicated areas within a stake center building or in a separate building for the use of the FHC. These larger FHCs have dedicated book, microfilm, and microfiche areas. They have six or more computers with phone line, cable, or satellite Internet access, family history software, and often offer the institutional version of,, and some other paid-access sites. All have microfilm or microfiche readers and the ability to receive film/fiches from the Salt Lake City FHL. Most have local area family history material, but are not "Library Class" facilities.[3]

Regional Branch Libraries

The "Regional Branch Libraries" of the Salt Lake City Family History Library are considered "library class" facilities. Each has a dedicated internal server and a library catalogs or card catalogs or online catalog for its collection. In 2010, the regional branch libraries were re-designated as "Large Multi-Stake FHCs" on the website. However a supplement to the Family History Center Operations Guide dated January 5, 2006, renamed these FHCs officially. Supervision of these facilities is under each area presidency or assigned to a member of the Presidency of the Seventy. These facilities are still considered branches of the Salt Lake City central library and often have book collections in the thousands, microfilm and microfiches in the tens of thousands, dozens of Internet-connected computers, microfilm and microfiche readers, and some digital scanners. All have dedicated servers with DSL, cable or T-1 Internet access. In addition, all had at least one multi-use classroom, and several research areas.[4][5]

These branch libraries have a dedicated unpaid full-time director or a pair of directors (usually a husband-wife team) and dozens of volunteer staff members.[4] In many cases non-church member volunteers from the community serve. Local genealogy groups often support these library facilities to the extent that the centers see non-LDS patron usage higher than local LDS usage.[1] While the LDS Church has renamed most of them, their websites reflect older names. The following is a list of Regional Family History Centers re-designated Large Multi-Stake Family History Centers:

  • Idaho Falls Regional Family History Center, Idaho Falls, Idaho
  • Las Vegas Regional Family History Center, Las Vegas, Nevada
  • London Family History Centre, National Archives, London, England
  • Logan Utah Regional Family History Center, Logan, Utah
  • Los Angeles Family History Library, Los Angeles, California
  • Mesa Arizona Regional Family History Center, Mesa, Arizona
  • Oakland Regional Family History Center, Oakland, California
  • Ogden Regional Family History Center, Ogden, Utah
  • Orange Regional Family History Center, Orange, California
  • Pocatello Regional Family History Center, Pocatello, Idaho
  • Sacramento Regional Family History Center, Sacramento, California
  • San Diego Regional Family History Center, San Diego, California

BYU Family History Library

The BYU Family History Library is part of the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. The BYU Family History Library was one of the original planned FHCs and is the largest Family History Center outside of Salt Lake City. It was formerly known as the Utah Valley Regional Family History Center. It is now semi-independent of the LDS FHC system.

FamilySearch Library

In June 2010, The LDS Church closed down many smaller FHCs in the Salt Lake Valley and opened the Riverton FamilySearch Library, a misnomer, since the facility has no books and no magazines, having computers only. Whether this will be a trend for future FHCs is not known.[2]


The Salt Lake City Genealogical Library was founded in 1894 to gather genealogical records and assist members of

The library collection has 2.4 million rolls of Family History Library microfilmed genealogical records and more than 742,000 microfiches in the main system. In 2003, the collection increased monthly by an average of 4,100 rolls of film, 700 books, and 16 electronic resources. A majority of the records contain information about persons who lived before 1930. Approximately 200 cameras are currently microfilming records in more than 45 countries. Records have been filmed in more than 110 countries, territories, and possessions.[1]

The first Family History Center (FHC), then called a branch genealogical library, was organized in the Harold B. Lee Library on Brigham Young University Campus in May, 1964. Plans to organize family history centers in Mesa, Arizona, Logan, Utah, Cardston, Alberta, and Oakland, California, each adjacent to a temples in one of those cities, had been announced at the 1963 October General Conference.

The Family History Centers were put under the overall direction of Archibald F. Bennett. By December, 1964, there were 29 FHCs, and by 1968, there were 75. In 1987, these institutions were renamed "Family History Centers." Databases

  • The Ancestral File database contains more than 36 million names that are linked into families.
  • The International Genealogical Index database contains approximately 600 million names of deceased individuals. An addendum to the International Genealogical Index contains an additional 125 million names. These names have been patron-submitted or extracted from thousands of original birth, christening, and marriage records.
  • The Pedigree Resource File database contains more than 80 million names that are linked into families. Records from the United States, Canada, the British Isles, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa, are available.
  • The Social Security Death Index represents millions who were in the US Social Security system before death.
  • Census records from the 1880 United States Federal Census and from the 1881 British & Canadian censuses are available.
  • A Vital Records Index presents thousands of names for Mexico and Scandinavia only.[7]
  • In 2003, the collection increased monthly by an average of 4,100 rolls of film, 700 books, and 16 electronic resources.
  • A majority of the records contain information about persons who lived before 1930.
  • Approximately 200 cameras are currently microfilming records in more than 45 countries. Records have been filmed in more than 110 countries, territories, and possessions.[8]

Digitization and indexing projects

Main article: FamilySearch Indexing

In the late 1990s, a "pilot program" to update FamilySearch website.

See also


External links

  • for information on family history centers
    • Family History Library Official Site
  • Family History Library research wiki
    • A complete list of all Family History Centers worldwide
    • New York FHCs representing ward, stake and other Family History Centers.
  • FamilySearch Indexing
  • Los Angeles Family History Library formerly known as the "Los Angeles Regional Family History Center" is now designated as a "Large Multi-Stake Family History Center" by the LDS Church, but is not referred to in that way by its supporting genealogical organizations and patrons (either LDS Church members or non-members).
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