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From the Green Valley News, Friday 16 May 2008, page C6

Genealogy Today, by Betty Lou Malesky, CG

Visiting the Family History Library

Seven local residents and I have just returned from a week-long research trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Every family historian owes it to him or herself to invest in a trip to this genealogists’ paradise.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) has spent over fifty years filming important family records in the U.S. and other countries. This Library is unique in that millions of microfilms and microfiche of original records are at your fingertips to speed your research process along.

Deeds, probate records and vital records have been filmed through the 1800s for virtually every U.S. county, city and/or town with the exception of some locations that would not allow records to be filmed. All of the U.S. censuses through 1930 and most state censuses are available on film or on computer. Service records for most of our country’s military campaigns including some as recent as World War II are on file as well as Revolutionary and War of 1812 Pensions and Civil War Pension indexes. U.S. Immigration and Naturalizations are another important record group.

One entire floor is devoted to the British Isles, another to other foreign countries. Many of the library’s volunteers are fluent in several languages to help researchers translate their family information. In fact, volunteers are available in every part of the library to provide guidance or answer questions for patrons. They won’t do your research but will help you to maximize use of the facility.

The Library has an extensive book collection of family, state and county histories, maps, charts and numerous other resources. The genealogical periodical collection here is second only to that of the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Banks of computers on each floor provide Internet access to the Library’s card catalog and a wide selection of subscription sites for patron use in the Library, including Ancestry, Godfrey Library, Heritage Quest and New England Historic Genealogical Society databases to mention a few. The Library also offers Wi-Fi service for those who bring their laptop computers.

Many downtown hotels promote special genealogical researcher rates. The hotel we opted for offered a package including 7 nights for the price of 6 with a full breakfast every morning, a free shuttle back and forth to the airport and also to the Library daily. Walking the two blocks from the hotel to the Library however provided some welcome exercise for those of us sitting in front of a microfilm reader all day.

The City has restaurants to please every appetite, from fast food to gourmet dining. The Trax light rail system transports visitors free within a six block downtown area. If you travel with a spouse or friend who is not into genealogy, there are plenty of attractions to keep them occupied while you are immersed in the library.

During the week, I conducted research in six counties in New York, three in New Jersey, three in Massachusetts, two in Rhode Island, two in Ohio, one in Pennsylvania, and one in Connecticut. It would have been impossible for me to cover that much ground in only six days on site, but at the Family History Library your time and ingenuity are the only limits.

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