Find My Ancestor Blog

Family History Library: Getting Started

The following post is the first in a series on the Family History Library located in Salt Lake City. This new series will teach you all you need to know about the library and how to make the most out of your research trips to Salt Lake.

Have you ever been to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City? If you have you know that you could spend all day, every day for a week and not even scratch the surface of completing what you had originally wanted to accomplish. There are so many books, rolls of microfilm, maps, and many other resources available at the Family History Library it is hard to know where to start.

To start off, let's get a little information about the library and what it contains. The following comes from the website:

Family History Library Building:


  • Founded in 1894 to gather genealogical records and assist members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with their family history and genealogical research
  • Largest library of its kind in the world
  • Open to the general public at no charge
  • An estimated 1,500 daily visits

Records Collection:

  • The collection includes over 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records; 727,000 microfiche; 356,000 books, serials, and other formats; over 4,500 periodicals; 3,725 electronic resources.
  • 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 over 100 million names that are linked into families.
  • Records available are from the United States, Canada, the British Isles, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
  • A majority of the records contain information about persons who lived before 1930.
  • Approximately 200 cameras are currently digitizing records in over 45 countries. Records have been filmed in over 110 countries, territories, and possessions.

Patron Resources:

  • 475 patron computers
  • 408 microfilm readers
  • 36 microfiche readers
  • 24 digital microfilm and microfiche copiers
  • 14 book copiers
  • 375 Seating capacity at tables
  • 4 book scanners
  • Orientation and research classes


  • Currently 100 full-time and part-time professional staff
  • Approximately 700 trained volunteers

Family History Centers:

  • Family history centers are branches of the Family History Library.
  • Over 4,500 family history centers operate in more than 100 countries.
  • Local family history centers are staffed by helpful volunteers.
  • About 100,000 rolls of microfilm are circulated to family history centers each month.
  • Click here to locate the nearest family history center, or call 866-406-1830 in the United States and Canada.

(updated: 3 Jun 2010)

As you can tell, the Family History Library is quite an amazing place. Are you planning a research trip to Salt Lake in the next year, but aren't quite sure what to expect or how the library works? This new series will guide you through exactly what you need to know about the library and how to search the catalog, work a microfilm reader, digitize a record found on a microfilm or microfiche, and all of the other great resources and services the library has to offer. 

Also be sure to subscribe to the Find My Ancestor Blog to always be up-to-date with the latest postings, news, and genealogical goodies.

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  1. Thank you for this A.C., this will be very helpful to so many of us.

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