Preparing for the Family History
Library includes more than packing your luggage.
Plan Your Visit with the End Result in Mind
What do you plan on doing while
at the library? Are you looking for a fun,
immersive family history experience in the Discovery Center? Do you need
one-on-one help to grow your family tree?
Do you want to scan pages from a catalog, book, or record that is available
only at the library?
Going to the FHL with a specific purpose will ease
unnecessary stress and keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
Prepare to Research at the Family History Library
If you plan on researching your
family history at the FHL but don’t know where to start, follow these simple
steps and suggestions.
1. Review Your Family Tree
First things first—look at your family tree, and see what
areas you are most interested in researching. If you are a beginner at genealogy
and don’t have a family tree mapped out, consider creating a FamilySearch account.
Once you’ve signed up, try your best to add the first four generations to your tree. After you’ve
filled in what you can, you’ll be able to see where you have missing
information or could add to your tree.
2. Decide What Areas You Want to Focus on
Is there a specific family line you want to research? Do you want to find more information about a particular ancestor? Determine the questions you hope to answer. Then write down realistic and specific goals for your visit based on answering those questions.
3. Gather Information about Your Family
Find all the information you can about the ancestor or
family line you plan on researching. You can do this by asking family members and
searching online databases,
Make a list of ancestors based on memories, electronic
records, and printed records and bring it with you to help with your research. Establish
where your ancestors lived, and then create a list of cities, states, and
countries that you plan on researching.
4. Record the Sources of Your Family’s Information
Be sure to record the sources of
your findings—including dead-ends—to refer to later and to share with an FHL consultant.
Your source logs will let FHL staff see where you’ve already looked. They will then
be able to focus attention on different areas.
5. Search the FamilySearch Catalog
Look at your list of places your
ancestors lived. Pick one of those locations, and then go to the Search button at the top of the FamilySearch.org
home page. A menu of options will take you to the catalog.
When you type in a place-name, you will see what records are available for that
Note: Even after searching the
FamilySearch Catalog before visiting the FHL, when you are at the FHL, ask one
of the staff to review your searches and share any tips or tricks that might
help with future searches.
6. Create a List of Records You Want to View at the Library during Your Visit
As you compare records from
family and other sources such as the FamilySearch Catalog, create (and take
with you) a list of records you plan on viewing while at the FHL. You can print
a list of the records or open each document to get call numbers or film and
item numbers that identify the item you want to look up.
You may also want to make a list
of books, photos, or documents that can be seen only
at the library. Search these items first unless you plan a return trip.
You can order microfilms before
your visit so they will be ready when you arrive. The phone number for the FHL
What to Bring
To make your visit successful,
take printed copies with key data or a flash drive with most of the data that
relates to the people or questions you are researching, including your source
logs. It’s also a good idea to have a blank flash drive to use to copy
information that you find at the library.
With preparation and your plan
in hand, you can look forward to a fascinating visit and a chance to have the
time of your life!
For Additional Information
Ask questions at the Family
History Library—the staff and missionaries are there to serve you!
For additional information, visit the FamilySearch wiki
article “Family History Library.”
Source: New on FamilySearch