Tip: Get to know your local research facilities.

Marriage Record found on microfilm at the BYU Family History Library.
Marriage Record found on microfilm at the BYU Family History Library.

Becoming familiar with the research facilities near you is really important.  Many areas in the world have FamilySearch Centers, Libraries, Universities, Archives, Genealogy Centers, Registration Offices, Museums and so on.  Find out what facilities are near you and what they have to offer.

I live near Brigham Young University, or BYU.  They have a great Family History Library that I visit often.  I can order any microfilm that is held at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City FOR FREE.  I can order two films/fiche at a time.  They arrive in about two weeks and stay at BYU forever.  Once the films arrive I can order two more.  They have plenty of films in their collection already as well as books, maps, family histories and more.  The library is conveniently located for me and meets many of my research needs.

My most recent visit was on Tuesday night.  I looked through four different films/fiche and found six records that I needed.  I brought my darling 12 year old with me so we were able to order four more rolls of microfilm.

BYU isn’t the only facility I have nearby but it is my overall favorite.

Do you know what research facilities are near you?

11 thoughts on “Tip: Get to know your local research facilities.”

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more! I volunteer at the local archives in Springfield, MA where they have an astounding collection of…well…everything! And today, I’m heading to Boston with a stop at the NARA in Waltham. Plenty of places to go in this area! One other “Best Kept Secret” that may or may not apply to your area: The WPA in our area complete a project in 1939 whereby they photographed EVERY building in Springfield, Mass whether residential or commercial. I would find it hard to believe that Springfield was the only community to take on a project like that! I would suggest calling the Department of Public Works or the Building Department in your area to see if there was a similar project. You won’t find your great grandmother’s maiden name, but you’ll find out a lot about the properties!

    1. Oooh, interesting! I’ll have to look into that. There really are so many resources at the local level. I’ve been feeling a bit guilty lately because there are a few nearby facilities I haven’t become acquainted with, I need to do something about that. I love volunteering at my local FamilySearch center. I imagine volunteering at an Archive would make my little genealogy loving heart sing!

  2. How lucky! My closest Family History center is so small that they don’t have a working microfilm copier. So after spending $8+ to get a film, I can’t even make decent copies of the records. I take pictures but they are not easy to take or the best quality.

    1. Oh, bummer! I do feel very fortunate to have so many great facilities nearby. There are even a few I haven’t visited yet. Hopefully your local center gets a boost down the road and becomes something more useful for you and others.

      1. They just got a re-do and it didn’t include the copier. There is another larger center on the other side of town, but it is almost an hour away. I used to go there quite a lot when I was younger (i.e. no kids). Apparently, it got redone too and they don’t even have the great book library they used to have. They sent all the books back to Salt Lake and set up banks of computers.

        There are some great resources around here because it is the state capital. Lots of great California stuff, but not what I need. 🙁

        1. Sad. 🙁 I have heard lots of centers have been encouraged to send their books to Salt Lake and the incentive is they get more tech items. I’m a bit puzzled by that. Maybe we should start an email campaign to get your center a better film reader, one of the cool ScanPro machines that is attached to the computer so you can make a digital image right there. 🙂

  3. Timely tip…on my way to a Court House & then a museum a couple counties away from me. As far as Family History Centers, the closest one’s so busy you can’t get on a computer or a film reader, you can’t look up anything, and the staff isn’t helpful even when asked. Been there various days of the week and various times of the day. The other one I have yet to find open or get even a recording when I phone. Not sure if it is worth driving any farther. Maybe I am mistaken in what they offer? Am curious about others’ experiences with FHC’s.

    1. Another bummer! Deborah was sharing in her comment that her local center isn’t that great either. Small Family History Centers are usually run and operated completely by volunteers. Some are great and others are, well, not. I am fortunate to live in the same small town as many FamilySearch employees. We are also near BYU and about an hour from Salt Lake and their facility. We have a lot of people here who can help run and staff our center. The resources available to us are unusually vast in number. It makes for a great center. I’m sorry to hear that you don’t have the same experience where you live. I hope your trip today is very genealogically fruitful!

  4. I live very close to the local county records office for Wiltshire which is based in Chippenham, there is also an LDS Family History centre in nearby Trowbridge. My local library also has a great little section of local history books which I will often consult.
    I love going to the records office, it just makes me wish I had Wiltshire ancestors so I could spend more time there! Although my husband does have a line from Wiltshire in his tree which I have been investigating as it has some mysteries to try to untangle!
    Most of my ancestors come from many miles away from where I live now, but that is where the LDS centre comes in handy!

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