Monday, August 22, 2016

Genealogy in Your Back Yard- Family History Centers

I started my genealogical research in 1989 while living in Reno, Nevada.  We were fortunate to have a Family History Center in Reno.  I owe much of my early success in genealogy to the use of the FHC that was operated by volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  The director of the center, Tom Sawtelle had retired from the University of Nevada.  He became a mentor to me and I will forever be indebted to him for his encouragement.  Tom also helped me to organize a genealogy class that was offered through the community college.  He allowed me to offer my class at the FHC.

Family History Center, Reno, Nevada


Family History Centers (FHCs) are branches of FamilySearch and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, located all over the world. Their goal is to provide resources to assist you in the research and study of your genealogy and family history by:

  • Giving personal one-on-one assistance to patrons
  • Providing access to genealogical records through the Internet or microfilm loan program
  • Offering free how-to classes (varies by location)

There are more than 4,700 FHCs in 134 countries. There is no cost to visit a Family History Center or FamilySearch Library. They are open to anyone with an interest in genealogical research. They are operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).  I have always found the volunteers in these centers to be very knowledgeable.  They share your passion for genealogy and are extremely helpful.

Family History Centers provide free access to many subscription genealogy websites, including:

  • 19th Century British Newspapers
  • Newspaper Archives
  • Alexander Street Press (American Civil War Collections)
  • Ancestry.com (Family History Library Edition)
  • ArkivDigital Online
  • findmypast
  • Fold3.com
  • HeritageQuest Online
  • Historic Map Works (Library Edition)
  • Paper Trail, A Guide to Overland Pioneer Names and Documents
  • WorldVitalRecords.com


You should take the time to visit a Family History Center.  You can search for the nearest facility at this link: https://familysearch.org/locations/ 

I am fortunate to have two Family History Centers close to me: Friendswood and League City.  In addition, the Clayton Library is also a Family Search partner facility that can receive microfilm from Salt Lake City.  Much of the information that we need to fill in the gaps on our family trees is on microfilm and not yet available online.

I was pleased to learn that the League City facility is hosting a special event on September 17, 2016 from 9 am to 3 pm called Rootstech Family Discovery Day.  The details of the event are here:


 This is a free educational event that I encourage you to attend.

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