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Beginning Genealogy Lessons
by Don B. Dale

Lessons To Help You Get Started & Sometimes To Keep Going

Lesson 12: Family History Centers

There's always some discussion about what's in LDS FHCs. The following
may help. This first part is from Helen Ullman,(printed with permission)
member of LDS who has worked as a Family History Center librarian for
many years and has used FHC for many years. LDS librarians (as
opposed to non-member librarians who are almost always experienced
genealogists) are apt to be people the local church leaders have asked
to work in the library in order to learn how to do genealogy. They do
want to be helpful and they have keys to let you in. They are eager to
learn, but are at different stages in that process. On the other hand
many have a great deal of experience. Nevertheless, each of us has our
own areas of expertise. I can tell you a lot about Norway but we get
patrons who want to know about Irish and French-Canadian, in which areas
I am a dummy. First, ask lots of questions. The librarians need to know
what they need to know to help patrons. (Yes, that says what I mean to
say:)Ask the same question of different people. Next, browse around. I
like to tell people the FHCs have three kinds of things:

1. Reference materials: hard copies and microform.
1. The book collection varies from one FHC to the other. But each should
have certain basic materials. On paper there are Resource Outlines for
each state and province of Canada and several countries and special
subjects. These cost a small amount. Sleep reading but good for
reference. Browse the shelves. Every FHC has a collection of 200 basic
reference works on microfiche. Ask the librarian where the directory to
this is. Browse through the microfiche collection. Every time someone
orders fiche it stays in the Center forever.

2. The Family History Library Catalog (FHLC).
2. The FHLC is the catalog of what is in the Salt Lake Library. You can
order microfilm and fiche (but not books) and use them in the FHC.
Browse the FHLC. See if you can find the resource outline about how to
use it. The headings in the state Resource Outlines are the same
headings that are used in the FHLC.  You can search it by author/title,
the quickest way to find a specific book.
   - Or you can search it by locality. At the beginning of each country or
state there is a list of places for which they have material. It's an
easy way to find out what political jurisdiction a town or city fallsunder.
   - Or you can search the surname section for material about a specific

family. This is a great index to "hidden genealogies," things on one
surname buried in a genealogy of a different family.
   - Or you can search by subject. Play with it. The catalog is also on the
FamilySearch computer, but it works a little differently. You cannot
search by author or title, but you can enter a film number and identify it.

3. Databases on the FamilySearch computer and also on microfiche
3. The databases on the computer are the IGI, Ancestral File, the Social
Security death index and Korean and Vietnam War deaths, as well as the
   -   Read the instruction manual and/or get copies of instructions to
take home.
   -   For a real dose, read my article in the New England Historic
Genealogical Society NEXUS of December 1993.
   -  The databases on fiche are census indexes 1790-1850, Scottish Old -
Parochial Records and some others. Explore!
   -  See if the FHC has a copy of a huge book called THE LIBRARY. Any
suggestions to improve the above, let Helen S. Ullmann know: 
               hsu@world.std.com (printed with permission)
 LDS Link Pages 
     List of FHCs (Family History Centers by state)
     San Diego FHCs
     PAF 1890 Census Look up Reference 

Net NOTES cont.

Here are main points regarding how to make the best use of one's time at
1)You can download from LDS site research guides for localities you are
     interested in.
2)You can buy guides at reasonable cost at LDS FHCs.  
3)Check them over and get an idea of what kinds of material is available.
4)You can download CD material at FHCs using your own disks - take them
    home and work on it.  Remember, the sources used by someone
    submitting their data to the FHC isn't always clear and may not be
5)Call FHC before hand to reserve computer time--not always open--run
    by volunteers.

Things to download:
1.  Information from FH Library Catalog--locality guide and surname
    index for most important current research
2.  Information from IGI regarding people with particular surname --
    It's wise to use filter regarding localities or you might get too 
    much to handle--helps as guide, don't take as gospel.
3.  Contributions to Ancestral File of your ancestors--helps as guide,
    it's not gospel.It maybe the best that there is, but e.g. Moorman
    Ballard was listed a father to Horatio and Moorman was out of TN. 
    After several years I found that Moorman (TN) was not married to the 
    person that was listed in the family records, that person was the 
    wife of one of his sons, and that he had no son named Horatio, and 
    that Horatio was born in MD. I've made mistakes myself in my own family, because I was
    tired, in a hurry, or just stupid e.g. Tyndal is one of my family names
    - try and spell it: Tyndale, Tyndell, Tyndill, Tyndall, Tindell,
    Tendale, etc. Never assume the census taker could spell.   

Order films for further research--remember to check whether index is on
separate film.  If so order it too!


This is a long Internet message, but I really think it would be helpful
if you tend to get frustrated with the IGI.  Actually, I get frustrated 
as well, but the IGI is an incredibly useful tool.

This is a very simplified recap of an article in the New England
Historic Genealogical Society NEXUS of Dec. 1993 (v. 10).  

First, the International Genealogical Index (IGI) is just that, an
index, a finding tool.  However, it is not like an index in a book.  In
order to make good use of it, you must make some effort to understand
how it is put together.

It is primarily an index to temple work for individuals, which explains
why there are often multiple entries for the same person.  Church
members have often submitted names for temple work to be done without
having first found out whether it has been done before.  There are
various reasons why this has been very difficult to do in the past. The
new IGI addendum goes a long way toward making it easier than ever

There seems to be a general recognition that there are two main kinds of
entries in the IGI, those submitted by church members (often called
"patrons") and those extracted directly from original records.  We tend
to  trust the latter entries, and it is relatively easy to check out the
original source.  If using the IGI on microfiche, these extracted
entries usually have a batch number beginning with C or M or
occasionally another letter, but some begin with numbers.  The CD-ROM
edition gives pretty complete information for each entry.  But if you're
using the IGI on fiche there is no substitute for reading detailed
instructional material about this.

Basically discussed here are the patron entries, as these are the ones
that give people the most trouble.  In order to evaluate the entry, you
need to get hold of the material "behind" it, i.e., the piece of paper
submitted by the patron to initiate the temple work.  And what you most
need from that is the source(s) used by the patron.  

Submission has been done differently at different times.  The four eras
1.     Pre-1942                  3.     1969-ca. 1990
2.     1942-1969                 4.     1990 to the present

When you find an entry, look at the dates of temple work to identify
which era the entry falls under (b = baptism; e = endowment, s = sealing
to spouse or parents).  Sometimes there will be a combination.

1.  Before 1942 the resources referenced in the IGI are the temple
books, the chronological records kept by the temples of the work done
each day.  These are on the films indicated on the IGI microfiche when
there is a number in the batch number column and the word "film" in the
sheet number column.  Many of these films can be ordered at Family
History Centers (FHCs), but check the fiche listing restricted films. 
If they cannot be ordered, they may still be in the open cabinets in the
reading room in Salt Lake.  You will need to find an agent to look if
you can't go yourself.  A few are in what is called the Special
Collections room.  (Ask at the FHC what this means).

What is more useful is the index to these early records.  The Temple
Index Bureau (TIB) is a series of index cards, now on microfilm, which
often give additional information.  These too are in Special
Collections, but you can access them by using a Temple Ordinance Index
Request (TOIR) form which should be available at an FHC.  They are free
from the Church Distribution Center.

If you send in a TOIR (cost $1 for each search) and they find an index
card, they may also find a family group sheet from the next era for you.

2.  In 1942 patrons began sending in family group sheets.  These too are
indexed in the TIB and can be accessed by using TOIRs.  Or you can look
at these on microfilm.  There are several other series of family group
sheets, so look in the subject section of the FHLC (Family History
Library Catalog) under "Mormons - Genealogy - Sources" and roam around
until you find a series beginning with film #127...  The sheets are
arranged strictly alphabetically by the head of the household (sometimes
an unmarried woman) and then by birth date of people with the same
name.  Many FHCs like to get these on indefinite loan to build the

Besides getting more data on the family and a patron's outdated name and
INFORMATION.  Hopefully you will be able to interpret it and go to a
book you would never have dreamed of looking at for information on your
family, i.e., the index (IGI) has worked!  Note:  this is the main point
of this little dissertation.

If you cannot interpret the source, play with the FHLC first if you have
a clue to author or title.  Then call the Family History Library
(801-240- 2584) and ask for the first floor library attendants' window. 
They can convert old call numbers to new. Try to remember what your mother 
taught you to say "Yes, please, thank you madame, sorry I spit" 

3.  The IGI began in 1969.  At the same time patrons began using new
forms, called Individual Entry and Marriage Entry Forms.  Sometimes
family group sheets were still used.  (These were assigned batch numbers
beginning with F, 50 or 60).  The value of seeing these is not only the
source.  The patron's address may still be current and there may be
additional information.  But guess what, WHAT YOU MOST WANT IS THE

You get copies of these entry forms in either of two ways:  

a.  When received, they were assigned a batch number, with 99 sheets in
a batch.  (The first two digits of batch numbers beginning with 7 and 8
tell you the year they were submitted.)  Then they were filmed.  You can
order the microfilm of them (about $3 apiece).  If using the IGI on
fiche you need to find out the film number (also called "Input Source") by
using another set of fiche, the "Batch Number Index."  

b.  Or you can use the photo duplication form to get copies of 8 forms
for $2.  (Again, read the small print.  Some batch numbers with the 4th,
5th and 6th digits higher than 365 refer to extractions from New England
vital records - [slightly technical]).option b is >option a.  That way a 
volunteer in Salt Lake gets to usehis/her fingers walking through the 
microfilm.  The films can be tricky to use.  On the other hand, one film 
might have a great many usefulentry forms on it.  If you find a group of
people with the same batch number, try it.In fact, try all these things.  
That's the only way you'll get comfortable with them.

4.  About 1990 FHC began using a new type of family group sheet (8 ½ x
11 instead of 8 ½  x 14).  These are available by the same method as
above.  About the same time, the church began using TempleReady to
process submissions on disk.  While this has been extremely useful in
many ways, no longer are patron names and addresses and sources
available.  We are referred to the Ancestral File.  This situation may
eventually change, but for the present, we cannot get "behind" the IGI
on these entries.

For many years there has been a project to extract the old pre-1970
records and add them to the IGI.  Most of the pre-1942 baptismal records
are in the 1993 CD-ROM edition.  Many of the 1942-69 records are in the
new Addendum.

One final hint, if you find a patron listed on an old family group
sheet, try looking for them in the Ancestral File.  Then look for the
submitter's name and address.  You may find the current family
historian.   Bibliography:  At FHCs:
        IGI REFERENCE GUIDE, on microfiche Z 

Additional Tips for Using LDS Disks

1)   Use them only as an outline
2)   Act as a roadmap to lead to location of documentation
3)   Older ones were typed - there's room for error
4)   They're only as correct as the person who sent them in (my original
         Ballard I sent were a   mess - I don't know about corrections
5)   Person who submitted info - F9 key gets you to submitters
6)   Submitter's address included;code next to the name = date of submission
7)   Write tosubmitters for documentation, if the date is recent
8)   Before 1982 submission was a one shot thing; i.e. no further info 
9)   Church encouraged recent submissions; current info more likely to
         be supported  
10) Index part: Before you enter pedigrees - hit ENTER, you get the
         green screen tells you more about the person. At first glance, your
         ancestors may not seem to be in program.
11) They may be hidden;  Check extra spouses, etc. 
12) Remember to check a 20 year span of when you "know" they were born. 
         Submission date may have been a guess by submitter (20-20 RULE)
13) If you don't find support for an ancestor, double check data. Remember
         I found a 4ggf, but He was shown from Tenn, and the son, a 3ggf as 
         born in TN.  The wife of the 4ggf shown, was in reality the wife 
         of a son, and my 3ggf turned out to be born in MD, parents still 
         unknown. Used original records Historical Commission of Green Co,TN.

Beginning Genealogy Lessons Parent Directory.
Return to Source List for Genealogy Research or to the Kansas Heritage Group.
Originally posted: 08-May-97. Updated: 15 August 2005.