Tip 2, Using FamilySearch website and centers for research

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (formerly the Mormon Church) provides FamilySearch free of charge to everyone. There have been many changes over the years to the services provided and FamilySearch activities the past few years have focused on digitizing much of the collection and making it available through the internet either at home or at a Family History Center. Here is an overview of what is available.

FamilySearch website - click this link for a brief description

FamilySearch catalog - click this link for more information on how to use it

Family History Centers (FHCs)are located around the world with over 5,000 family history centers in 129 countries.  Use the links in this paragraph  for a brief description of FHCs and where they are located.

Family History Center Portal - available at local Family History Centers, gives free patron access to premium subscription websites.  Provides access to certain digitized records from other normally paid providers

Family History Library (FHL) - located in Salt Lake City, Utah.  An astounding collection of microfilm, microfiche books, serials and maps.   

Other facilities - FamilySearch Libraries; FamilySearch Centers; FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries.  See Familysearch's WIKI for more information.

Traditionally, the local Family History Centers were the first contact a genealogy researcher made with the LDS Church's genealogical services .  Usually they contained books, maps and other information about the local area as well as permanent microfilms and microfiche.  Patrons could also borrow microfilms from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City for periods of time or indefinitely.  

Here is a media release which explains the changeover to make much of their collection available digitally online.  Microfilm circulation services were discontinued in 2017.  They are working diligently to digitize billions of the world's historic records. Microfilm, microfiche and, books and maps are available at the FHL in Salt Lake City only, unless the local Family History Center had these items onsite and decided to keep them available locally.

For a history of the Genealogical Society of Utah and ultimately, its successor, FamilySearch please click here.

Here's a short discussion on the most common ways most of us will use the services of FamilySearch.

Each microfilm has a unique number and many of them can be viewed from the comfort of your own home. Some can only be viewed at any local Family History Center (FHC). Most cities in the world have at least one FHC. If one exists in your city it should be listed in your local telephone white pages under "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints " or you can look HERE.

Many of the Family History Centers are located in Latter-day Saint churches but there is no pressure to join the church or do anything other than research your ancestors. When you arrive you sign in giving your name and area of research. Once that is complete you are welcome to proceed on your own with the computers available at every FHC or you can ask for assistance from one of the volunteers. You will be searching the absolutely huge family history collection which is centralized in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

I prefer to do my initial searching at home which has the same search facilities at at a FHC. This requires first creating a free account.  I have not gotten any bad email from setting up my login. I usually start with a catalog search for the village of interest. Most Galizien village names are not indexed, so typing names into their surname search is not much use. After finding the village, choose the type of record (usually church records are the most useful for birth/marriage/death records, i.e. Księgi metrykalne in Polish ).

You then get a list of films that have certain information for certain years.  Few of the films in Galicia are indexed, so doing a search for a name is not likely to work.

If the film number has a microfilm roll iconmicrofilm iconbeside it, it is not available except at the Salt Lake City library.

If it has an icon of a cameracamera iconbeside it, you can view the film online in your own home.

If it has an icon of a camera with a keycamera and key iconon it, it can normally only be viewed at a Family History Centre or affiliated library and sometimes only by members of the LDS church. Clicking on such a film will lead you to a map of all their viewing locations.  Beware that many films that were once able to be viewed have been removed "due to contractual restrictions".  So unless you want to go to Salt Lake City, it would be prudent to download any film image you see that you think you might need.

If it has an icon of a magnifying glass and a camera magnifying glass and camera iconbeside it, you can search an index of the film and also view the film online in your own home.

Microfiche, most books and maps may only be viewed by visiting the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. In fact, some 

Note that the name of the village is not always the one in your source document or on GGD’s map. For example, the FamilySearch catalogs Neu Sandez as Neusandez. Use the “also known as” variations on the Germans from Russia Settlements map mentioned  on our Maps page since village names are sometimes given in German, sometimes in Polish, and sometimes in Ukrainian. For those films that need a visit to a FHC, I write down the details of what I want to find together with the film number. At the FHC, once you find a book or film you are interested in you may print it, save it to your computer or to a USB thumb drive.

That's all there is to it. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through the FamilySearch services provides a very valuable service to every genealogist in the world.


For an example of how to view a church record image, visit our Viewing a film on Family Search page.  

A personal note:  I have found some files marked with a locked camera icon can be viewed at home, so give it a try. I have also found that some records that were visible in the past became unavailable later, due to contractual obligations being interpreted more strictly, I presume.  Thus if you find something of interest, download it, or you may lose the ability to do so.

Historical note!

Back in 2000, our founder, Bettty Wray of Walnut Creek, California, put together a research guide which she emailed to all members.  It is a detailed study in how genealogical research was done in those days.  Much of what she says is no longer accurate since the methods have changed so much over the decades.  It is reproduced in the following file for those who are interested:  Betty's 2000 Guide for Galizien Research.