A Guide to Research

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= Why Family History?  =
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Return to [[Main Page]]
  
Why do members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do family history research? They do it because they are motivated by a love of their heritage.
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== Purpose of the Guide  ==
  
= Introduction  =
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The purpose of this guide is to help you discover your ancestry using the records available in the Family History Library, the FamilySearch Center, or one of the more than two thousand family history centers located throughout the world.
  
== Purpose ==
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== Family History Library and Related Services ==
  
The purpose of this guide is to help you discover your ancestry using the records available in the Family History Library, the FamilySearch™ Center, or one of the more than two thousand family history centers located throughout the world.
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==== Family History Library ====
  
== Records at the Family History Library ==
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Since it was established in 1894, the Family History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has become the largest of its kind in the world. The library has collected millions of microfilms, thousands of microfiche and books, and many other records. Most of the microfilms have been acquired through an extensive microfilming program that began in 1938. Microfilmers are presently filming original documents in churches, courthouses, and other archives in many countries. The originals of these microfilms are preserved in a vault in the mountains near Salt Lake City. The library is located at 35 North West Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah. The telephone number is 1-866-406-1830; Email address fhl@familysearch.org.<br>
  
Since it was established in 1894, the Family History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has become the largest of its kind in the world. The library has collected millions of microfilms, thousands of microfiche and books, and many other records. Most of the microfilms have been acquired through an extensive microfilming program that began in 1938. Microfilmers are presently filming original documents in churches, courthouses, and other archives in many countries. The originals of these microfilms are preserved in a vault in the mountains near Salt Lake City. Copies of the microfilms are available for use at the Family History Library and at family history centers.  
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Copies of the microfilms are available for use at the Family History Library and in [[Introduction to LDS Family History Centers|family history centers]]. The Family History Library is designed to help individuals who need help in learning and searching records to extend their family lines. Many of the records in the library are available through the family history centers.&nbsp; Some information collected by the library is available on the Internet at&nbsp;[https://www.familysearch.org/ FamilySearch].<br>
  
Some of the information collected by the library is available on a computer system called FamilySearch™. This information is stored on compact discs. If you are unfamiliar with computers, there is a program available on the computer to help you learn about using FamilySearch.
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==== Family History Centers  ====
  
== Services and Resources  ==
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[[Introduction to LDS Family History Centers|Family History Centers]] are located throughout the world. Each has a basic collection of records and research publications to assist researchers. Each center has computers with Internet access. Most records available on microfilm or microfiche at the Family History Library may be ordered for use at the centers.<br>
  
Library employees and family history center volunteers can help you use the records. They can't do research for you, but they will help you use the records to do your own research. This company can do a quality reseach for you [http://www.uk.bestessays.com www.uk.bestessays.com]
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==== Services and Resources  ====
  
=== FamilySearch™ Center  ===
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Workers in the Library and family history center can help you learn how to use the records. They can't do research for you, but can help you use the library's catalog to locate records or Web sites, to do your own research.&nbsp;
  
The FamilySearch™ Center is designed to introduce individuals unacquainted with family history to the joy and excitement of discovering their ancestors. The center, located in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building at 15 East South Temple Street in Salt Lake City, has FamilySearch computers, the United States 1920 census, and other records designed to assist the beginning researcher.
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==== FamilySearch Center  ====
  
=== Family History Library  ===
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The FamilySearch Center is designed to introduce individuals unacquainted with family history to experience the excitement of discovering their ancestors. The center, located in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building at 15 East South Temple Street in Salt Lake City, has access to the Internet.<br>
  
The Family History Library is designed to help individuals experienced in family history research who need information from many records to extend their family lines. Most of the records more advanced researchers need are available at the library, which is located at 35 North West Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah.
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== Research Process  ==
  
=== Family History Centers  ===
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Family History research involves five basic steps. Each step is explained below. Staff members in the Family History Library or family history centers will be glad to help you complete these steps. A&nbsp;Research Overview is available as a [http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/education/frameset_education.asp?PAGE=education_research_series_online.asp%3FActiveTab=2%7C video presentation] to introduce you to the research process.  
 
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[[Introduction to LDS Family History Centers|Family history centers]] are located throughout the world. Each has a basic collection of records and research publications to assist researchers. Each center has computers with Internet access. Most records available on microfilm or microfiche at the Family History Library may be ordered for use at the centers.
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= Research Process  =
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Family History Research involves five basic steps (see chart below).  
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Each step is explained on the following pages. Staff members will be glad to help you complete these steps. It is helpful if you have already done steps 1 and 2 before coming.
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In addition to this booklet, the video presentation A Guide to Research is also available to introduce you to the research process.  
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[[Image:Research Guide1.jpg|Research Guide1]]  
 
[[Image:Research Guide1.jpg|Research Guide1]]  
  
== 1. Identify What You Know About Your Family  ==
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=== 1. Identify What You Know About Your Family  ===
  
 
[[Image:Research Guide Chart1.jpg|Research Guide Chart1]]  
 
[[Image:Research Guide Chart1.jpg|Research Guide Chart1]]  
  
=== Fill Out a Pedigree Chart and Family Group Record  ===
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==== Fill Out a Pedigree Chart and Family Group Record  ====
  
Recall as much information as you can about yourself and your family members. Record what you know on pedigree charts and family group records. Estimate dates and places if necessary.  
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Recall as much information as you can about yourself and your family members. Record what you know on [[Use Appropriate Forms|pedigree charts and family group sheets]]. Estimate dates and places if necessary.  
  
*Write names as: Benjamin BLAKE
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*A pedigree chart provides space to record information on four generations: yourself, your parents, your grandparents, and your great-grandparents.  
*Write dates as: 12 Mar. 1815
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*A family group record provides space to record information about the parents and children of a family. You can also record the source of your information. Fill out a family group record for each couple on your pedigree chart.<br>
*Write places as: Blandford, Dorset, England
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A pedigree chart provides space to record information on four generations: yourself, your parents, your grandparents, and your great-grandparents.
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==== Gather Additional Information  ====
  
A family group record provides space to record information about the parents and children of a family. You can also record the source of your information. Fill out a family group record for each couple on your pedigree chart.
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If you need more information, gather information from sources in your home or from a relative. Look for copies of birth, marriage, and death certificates; journals; scrapbooks; old letters; family Bibles; photographs; school records; military records; obituaries; deeds; and wills. Record on your pedigree chart and family group sheet any new information you find.  
 
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If you do not have a pedigree chart or family group record, you can use the ones in the back of this guide. Family group records and pedigree charts are also available for purchase.
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Click here to view and print a family group sheet.
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=== Gather Additional Information  ===
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If you need more information, you may want to gather information from sources in your home or from a relative. Look for journals; scrapbooks; old letters; family Bibles; copies of birth, marriage, and death certificates; photographs; school records; military records; obituaries; deeds; and wills. Record on your pedigree chart and family group record any new information you find.  
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You may want to keep notes about your family history on a separate sheet of paper. These notes could be biographical information such as military service; education; social or economic status; migrations; participation in community, social, religious, or historical events; or physical descriptions.  
 
You may want to keep notes about your family history on a separate sheet of paper. These notes could be biographical information such as military service; education; social or economic status; migrations; participation in community, social, religious, or historical events; or physical descriptions.  
  
=== Organize Your Records  ===
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==== Organize Your Records  ====
  
 
Organize your records for easy access (see step 5 for suggestions on organizing).  
 
Organize your records for easy access (see step 5 for suggestions on organizing).  
  
== 2. Decide What You Want to Learn About Your Family  ==
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=== 2. Decide What You Want to Learn About Your Family  ===
  
 
[[Image:Research Guide Chart2.jpg|Research Guide Chart2]]  
 
[[Image:Research Guide Chart2.jpg|Research Guide Chart2]]  
  
=== Select an Ancestor  ===
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==== Select an Ancestor  ====
  
 
Select one ancestor you would like to learn more about. Begin with an ancestor for whom you already have some information. You will need at least his surname and some idea of when and where he lived. If possible, select an ancestor born before 1920, because most of the library's records date from before 1920. A staff member can help you.  
 
Select one ancestor you would like to learn more about. Begin with an ancestor for whom you already have some information. You will need at least his surname and some idea of when and where he lived. If possible, select an ancestor born before 1920, because most of the library's records date from before 1920. A staff member can help you.  
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To select an ancestor, look at the entries on your pedigree chart that have one of the following problems:  
 
To select an ancestor, look at the entries on your pedigree chart that have one of the following problems:  
  
'''Missing information:''' names, dates, or places are missing.  
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*'''Missing information:''' names, dates, or places are missing.
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*'''Incomplete information:''' part of a name, date, or place is missing.
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*'''Unverified information:''' information cannot be traced to a credible source (that is, someone who would have known the information first hand).
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*'''Conflicting information:''' information from two sources does not agree.
  
'''Incomplete information:''' part of a name, date, or place is missing.
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==== Select a Research Question  ====
 
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'''Unverified information:''' information cannot be traced to a credible source (that is, someone who would have known the information first hand).
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'''Conflicting information:''' information from two sources does not agree.
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=== Select a Research Question  ===
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Identify questions you want to answer about the person you selected. For example:  
 
Identify questions you want to answer about the person you selected. For example:  
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*Where was he born? or married?  
 
*Where was he born? or married?  
 
*Where or when did he die?  
 
*Where or when did he die?  
*What were the names of his children?
 
 
*Who were his parents?
 
*Who were his parents?
  
Select one question as your research objective. By focusing on one question at a time, you increase your chances for success.  
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Select one question as your [[Family Group Record Analysis: How to Guess Where to Start|research objective]]. By focusing on one question at a time, you increase your chances for success.  
  
=== Prepare a Research Log  ===
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==== Prepare a Research Log  ====
  
Write the name you selected, your research objective, and where he may have lived at the top of a research log. You will use this log to list each record you search and the information you find, as shown above. Extra research logs are available for purchase.  
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Use a [[Research Logs|research log]] to keep track of the records you want to search and the information you found. At the top of the log, write the name of the ancestor you selected, your research objective, and when and where he may have lived.  
  
== 3. Select Records to Search  ==
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=== 3. Select Records to Search  ===
  
 
[[Image:Research Guide Chart3.jpg|Research Guide Chart3]]  
 
[[Image:Research Guide Chart3.jpg|Research Guide Chart3]]  
  
=== Identify a Record Category  ===
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==== Identify a Record Category  ====
  
 
The Family History Library and family history centers have the following basic categories of records.  
 
The Family History Library and family history centers have the following basic categories of records.  
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*Compiled Records
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*Original Records
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*Background Information -- These are resources dealing with geographical, historical, or cultural information. They include local histories, maps, gazetteers, language dictionaries, and guidebooks. Search these to learn more about the area where your ancestors lived and the events that may have affected their lives and the records about them.
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*Finding Aids -- These help you find the location of records; name indexes; library catalogs; or Web sites.
  
 
==== Compiled Records  ====
 
==== Compiled Records  ====
 
These are records of previous research on individuals and families already done by others, such as family histories, biographies, or genealogies with pedigree charts and family group records. Though compiled records are very helpful, some information may be inaccurate or incomplete. The information is submitted by library patrons and is not verified by the Family History Library. Always carefully evaluate the information you find.
 
 
==== Original Records  ====
 
 
These are records created at the time of important events in your ancestors' lives. For example, a local church or the local government may have recorded your ancestors' births, christenings, marriages, and burials.
 
 
==== Background Information  ====
 
 
These are records dealing with geographical, historical, or cultural information. They include local histories, maps, gazetteers, language dictionaries, and guidebooks. Search these records to learn more about the area where your ancestors lived and the events that may have affected their lives and the records about them.
 
 
==== Finding Aids  ====
 
 
These are records that help you find a record or a name in a record. They include indexes and library catalogs.
 
 
=== Compiled Records  ===
 
  
 
It is best to search compiled records first. You can save a lot of time by seeing what information others have already found about your family. Compiled records can usually be searched quickly and easily. The following compiled records are available at the Family History Library or family history centers.  
 
It is best to search compiled records first. You can save a lot of time by seeing what information others have already found about your family. Compiled records can usually be searched quickly and easily. The following compiled records are available at the Family History Library or family history centers.  
  
==== Ancestral File ====
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'''Ancestral File'''
  
 
Ancestral File is a collection of pedigree and family group records submitted by people throughout the world. It is available on computer as part of FamilySearch™. It contains millions of names, and new names are added each year. Using Ancestral File, you can see an ancestor's pedigree, his family (both as a child and as a parent), his descendants, and the names and addresses of the people who submitted the information. You can make corrections to any errors you find in the file.  
 
Ancestral File is a collection of pedigree and family group records submitted by people throughout the world. It is available on computer as part of FamilySearch™. It contains millions of names, and new names are added each year. Using Ancestral File, you can see an ancestor's pedigree, his family (both as a child and as a parent), his descendants, and the names and addresses of the people who submitted the information. You can make corrections to any errors you find in the file.  
  
You will need the name of your ancestor to search this file. Printed instructions and computerized help messages are available to help you use the file. You may also ask a staff member for assistance. You can hand-copy the information you find, make a printed paper copy at cost, or copy the information onto a diskette to use with your home computer.  
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You will need the name of your ancestor to search this file. Printed instructions and computerized help messages are available to help you use the file. You may also ask a staff member for assistance. You can hand-copy the information you find, make a printed paper copy at cost, or copy the information onto a storage device, such as a flash drive, to use with your home computer.  
  
==== Ancestral File, Pedigree Chart  ====
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'''International Genealogical Index'''<br>
  
 
The International Genealogical Index contains millions of names of deceased persons from around the world, and new names are added periodically. It lists birth and marriage information and dates of ordinances performed in temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It also gives the sources of the information. Many of the names come from original birth and marriage records from the early 1500s to 1875. Other names were submitted by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The index is available on computer as part of FamilySearch and on microfiche.  
 
The International Genealogical Index contains millions of names of deceased persons from around the world, and new names are added periodically. It lists birth and marriage information and dates of ordinances performed in temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It also gives the sources of the information. Many of the names come from original birth and marriage records from the early 1500s to 1875. Other names were submitted by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The index is available on computer as part of FamilySearch and on microfiche.  
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The index identifies only the parents or spouse of a person. It does not show family members linked together in pedigrees or family groups as does Ancestral File.  
 
The index identifies only the parents or spouse of a person. It does not show family members linked together in pedigrees or family groups as does Ancestral File.  
  
[[Image:Research Guidel Index1.jpg|Research Guide Index1]]
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'''Family Histories'''
 
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==== International Genealogical Index  ====
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==== Family Histories ====
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The library has thousands of family histories. In a family history, you may find genealogical information, photographs, biographical sketches, and stories about the family. Books are usually available only in the Family History Library. However, most histories are also available on microfilm or microfiche and can be ordered for use at a family history center.  
 
The library has thousands of family histories. In a family history, you may find genealogical information, photographs, biographical sketches, and stories about the family. Books are usually available only in the Family History Library. However, most histories are also available on microfilm or microfiche and can be ordered for use at a family history center.  
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After you find catalog entries that contain your ancestor's surname, read the descriptions to see if the family history matches the time period and place in which your ancestor lived. The computer version of the catalog allows you to search for key words in the descriptions. This feature can save you time if many family histories contain your ancestor's surname.  
 
After you find catalog entries that contain your ancestor's surname, read the descriptions to see if the family history matches the time period and place in which your ancestor lived. The computer version of the catalog allows you to search for key words in the descriptions. This feature can save you time if many family histories contain your ancestor's surname.  
  
When you find a book or microfilm that you want to view, write the complete call number, author, and title in your research log (see the example). Then obtain the book or microfilm as explained in step 4.  
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When you find a book or microfilm that you want to view, write the complete call number, author, and title in your research log (see the example). Then obtain the book or microfilm as explained in step 4.&nbsp;
  
[[Image:Research Guide Entry1.jpg|Research Guide Entry1]]
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'''Other Sources of Compiled Records'''
 
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==== Family History Library Catalog Entry, Surname Section  ====
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==== Other Sources of Compiled Records ====
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Other sources of compiled records are available. Take your pedigree chart and research log to a staff member to determine whether any of the following sources would be helpful and how to locate them. Most compiled records are described in the [[Introduction to the Family History Library Catalog|Family History Library Catalog]].  
 
Other sources of compiled records are available. Take your pedigree chart and research log to a staff member to determine whether any of the following sources would be helpful and how to locate them. Most compiled records are described in the [[Introduction to the Family History Library Catalog|Family History Library Catalog]].  
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*Family newsletters  
 
*Family newsletters  
 
*Local histories  
 
*Local histories  
*Family Group Records Collection
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*[[Family Group Records Collection]]
  
=== Original Records  ===
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==== Original Records  ====
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These are records created at the time of important events in your ancestors' lives. For example, a local church or the local government may have recorded your ancestors' births, christenings, marriages, and burials.
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These are records of previous research on individuals and families already done by others, such as family histories, biographies, or genealogies with pedigree charts and family group records. Though compiled records are very helpful, some information may be inaccurate or incomplete. The information is submitted by library patrons and is not verified by the Family History Library. Always carefully evaluate the information you find.
  
 
Most original records in the Family History Library are microfilm copies of records found in courthouses, churches, government offices, historical societies, and other archives throughout the world. Some records are available as books. Others are available on computer as part of FamilySearch. The following are some of the major types of original records available:  
 
Most original records in the Family History Library are microfilm copies of records found in courthouses, churches, government offices, historical societies, and other archives throughout the world. Some records are available as books. Others are available on computer as part of FamilySearch. The following are some of the major types of original records available:  
  
==== Vital Records and Civil Registration  ====
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===== Vital Records and Civil Registration  =====
  
 
Most government offices keep records of births, marriages, and deaths. In the Family History Library Catalog these records are listed under "Vital Records" for the United States and Canada, and "Civil Registration" for other countries.  
 
Most government offices keep records of births, marriages, and deaths. In the Family History Library Catalog these records are listed under "Vital Records" for the United States and Canada, and "Civil Registration" for other countries.  
  
==== Church Records  ====
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===== Church Records  =====
  
 
The church your ancestors attended may have kept records of their christenings, baptisms, confirmations, marriages, or burials. Church records are especially important if civil vital records are unavailable for a time period or region where your ancestor lived.  
 
The church your ancestors attended may have kept records of their christenings, baptisms, confirmations, marriages, or burials. Church records are especially important if civil vital records are unavailable for a time period or region where your ancestor lived.  
  
==== Cemetery Records  ====
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===== Cemetery Records  =====
  
 
From cemetery records and headstones, you may be able to learn the names, birth dates, and death dates of family members buried near each other. The epitaphs may help you establish the relationships between ancestors.  
 
From cemetery records and headstones, you may be able to learn the names, birth dates, and death dates of family members buried near each other. The epitaphs may help you establish the relationships between ancestors.  
  
==== Census Records  ====
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===== Census Records  =====
  
 
Most national governments conduct periodic censuses. Beginning in 1850, United States federal censuses listed every member of a household by name, with information about sex, age, country or state of birth, and occupation. Census records are especially helpful in determining where your ancestors lived.  
 
Most national governments conduct periodic censuses. Beginning in 1850, United States federal censuses listed every member of a household by name, with information about sex, age, country or state of birth, and occupation. Census records are especially helpful in determining where your ancestors lived.  
  
*British 1851 Census
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*[[England and Wales 1851 Census Population Schedules|British 1851 Census]]
  
==== Probate Records  ====
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===== Probate Records  =====
  
 
When a person dies, court records may be created containing a copy of the person's will, if one exists, and the court's decision about how the estate is to be distributed among his heirs. These are called probate records, and they often provide names and family relationships.  
 
When a person dies, court records may be created containing a copy of the person's will, if one exists, and the court's decision about how the estate is to be distributed among his heirs. These are called probate records, and they often provide names and family relationships.  
  
==== Military Records  ====
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===== Military Records  =====
  
 
The names of individuals who served in the military or who were eligible for military service appear in military records.  
 
The names of individuals who served in the military or who were eligible for military service appear in military records.  
  
==== Immigration Records  ====
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===== Immigration Records  =====
  
 
Passenger lists or other immigration records may provide the date or ship on which an immigrant ancestor arrived or the name of the port to which he came.  
 
Passenger lists or other immigration records may provide the date or ship on which an immigrant ancestor arrived or the name of the port to which he came.  
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Note: To find the records of an immigrant's place of origin, you usually need to know the exact city, town, or county where he lived. If you do not know this, search the records of the country to which he migrated. For more information, see the publication Tracing Immigrant Origins, available at the library or family history centers.  
 
Note: To find the records of an immigrant's place of origin, you usually need to know the exact city, town, or county where he lived. If you do not know this, search the records of the country to which he migrated. For more information, see the publication Tracing Immigrant Origins, available at the library or family history centers.  
  
==== Other Original Documents  ====
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===== Other Original Documents  =====
  
 
Other original documents include court, land, naturalization, taxation, business, medical, and school records. Be sure to check all jurisdictions (for example, town, county, state, and country) that may have kept records about your ancestor.  
 
Other original documents include court, land, naturalization, taxation, business, medical, and school records. Be sure to check all jurisdictions (for example, town, county, state, and country) that may have kept records about your ancestor.  
  
=== Choose a Record Type  ===
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==== Choose a Record Type  ====
  
 
When selecting a record, first decide which type of record may contain the information you are looking for (such as vital record, cemetery record, or military record). To decide upon a record type, do one of the following:  
 
When selecting a record, first decide which type of record may contain the information you are looking for (such as vital record, cemetery record, or military record). To decide upon a record type, do one of the following:  
  
See the chart on the last page of this guide, or  
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*See the chart on the last page of this guide, or
  
Use a printed research outline for your country, state, or province. Each country research outline includes a chart showing which types of original records contain information for various types of research objectives. The outlines also describe what records are available for an area and a time period, or  
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*Use the Wiki article for your country, state, or province. Each country article includes a link to a chart (called a "record selection table") showing which types of original records contain information for various types of research objectives. The articles also describe what records are available for an area and a time period, or
  
Take your research log to a staff member and ask for help in determining which type of record you should search for.  
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*Take your research log to a staff member and ask for help in determining which type of record you should search for.
  
=== Select Specific Records to Search  ===
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==== Select Specific Records to Search  ====
  
 
Once you have determined what type of record to search for, you will need to select a specific record. Most original records are listed in the "Locality" (or place) section of the Family History Library Catalog. This section lists records by country, state or province, county, or town. You will need to know the place where your ancestor lived and the type of record you chose to search, such as census, land and property, or vital record. The record type is called a topic in the FamilySearch version of the Family History Library Catalog.  
 
Once you have determined what type of record to search for, you will need to select a specific record. Most original records are listed in the "Locality" (or place) section of the Family History Library Catalog. This section lists records by country, state or province, county, or town. You will need to know the place where your ancestor lived and the type of record you chose to search, such as census, land and property, or vital record. The record type is called a topic in the FamilySearch version of the Family History Library Catalog.  
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If you do not find any records listed under a place, search for records of other jurisdictions, such as the state, county, or city. You can also look for records of nearby places. Do not hesitate to ask a staff member for assistance.  
 
If you do not find any records listed under a place, search for records of other jurisdictions, such as the state, county, or city. You can also look for records of nearby places. Do not hesitate to ask a staff member for assistance.  
  
[[Image:Research Guide Index2.jpg|Research Guide Index2]]
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==== Describe the Records on Your Research Log  ====
 
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Family History Library Catalog Entry, Locality Section
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=== Describe the Records on Your Research Log  ===
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On your research log, record the authors, titles, time periods, and Family History Library call numbers of any records you select. Your research log might look like the example. You now have the information you need to obtain a record.  
 
On your research log, record the authors, titles, time periods, and Family History Library call numbers of any records you select. Your research log might look like the example. You now have the information you need to obtain a record.  
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Identify a record category. Search compiled records first. Then search original records.  
 
Identify a record category. Search compiled records first. Then search original records.  
  
Choose a record type. Use the chart in this guide or a research outline.  
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Choose a record type. Use the chart (called "Record Selection Table") found by searching for the country in the Wiki.  
  
 
Select specific records to search. Find the locality and record type in the Locality section of the Family History Library Catalog.  
 
Select specific records to search. Find the locality and record type in the Locality section of the Family History Library Catalog.  
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Describe the records in your research log.  
 
Describe the records in your research log.  
  
== 4. Obtain and Search the Record  ==
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=== 4. Obtain and Search the Record  ===
  
 
[[Image:Research Guide Chart4.jpg|Research Guide Chart4]]  
 
[[Image:Research Guide Chart4.jpg|Research Guide Chart4]]  
  
=== Obtain the Record  ===
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==== Obtain the Record  ====
  
==== At the Family History Library  ====
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===== At the Family History Library  =====
  
 
Records at the Family History Library are arranged by geographical area. The call number of the record tells you which area of the library this record is located in and whether it is a book, microfilm, or microfiche. The following are sample call numbers:  
 
Records at the Family History Library are arranged by geographical area. The call number of the record tells you which area of the library this record is located in and whether it is a book, microfilm, or microfiche. The following are sample call numbers:  
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Not all microfilms are located in the library. You may need to order some microfilms. A library attendant can help you do this. The microfilm will arrive in a few hours or a few days, depending on where it is stored.  
 
Not all microfilms are located in the library. You may need to order some microfilms. A library attendant can help you do this. The microfilm will arrive in a few hours or a few days, depending on where it is stored.  
  
==== At a Family History Center  ====
+
===== At a Family History Center  =====
  
 
Take your research log to a staff member. He or she can tell you whether the center already has the record. If not, the staff member will help you fill out a Microfilm and Microfiche Order Card and tell you the fees for postage and handling. Individual microfilms can be lent to family history centers for different lengths of time. The microfilm or microfiche should arrive in one to three weeks. Books cannot be lent to family history centers.  
 
Take your research log to a staff member. He or she can tell you whether the center already has the record. If not, the staff member will help you fill out a Microfilm and Microfiche Order Card and tell you the fees for postage and handling. Individual microfilms can be lent to family history centers for different lengths of time. The microfilm or microfiche should arrive in one to three weeks. Books cannot be lent to family history centers.  
  
==== Other Repositories  ====
+
===== Other Repositories  =====
  
 
Not every record about your ancestor is at the Family History Library or a family history center. You may need to obtain copies of some records at other libraries, archives, or government and church offices.  
 
Not every record about your ancestor is at the Family History Library or a family history center. You may need to obtain copies of some records at other libraries, archives, or government and church offices.  
  
=== Search the Record  ===
+
==== Search the Record  ====
  
 
Do not hesitate to ask a staff member for help to use the microfilm or microfiche equipment. Printed instructional materials are available to help you search some records.  
 
Do not hesitate to ask a staff member for help to use the microfilm or microfiche equipment. Printed instructional materials are available to help you search some records.  
Line 289: Line 247:
 
If you have difficulty finding a record on a microfilm, check the item number of the record. Several records may be on one microfilm, and you may need to read the title page for each item to make sure you have the correct one. Names in an original record may be arranged chronologically or alphabetically. The following are common research problems you should be aware of.  
 
If you have difficulty finding a record on a microfilm, check the item number of the record. Several records may be on one microfilm, and you may need to read the title page for each item to make sure you have the correct one. Names in an original record may be arranged chronologically or alphabetically. The following are common research problems you should be aware of.  
  
==== Name Changes  ====
+
===== Name Changes  =====
  
 
Many immigrants changed or shortened their names after arriving in the new country. You may need to check for various possibilities.  
 
Many immigrants changed or shortened their names after arriving in the new country. You may need to check for various possibilities.  
  
==== Spelling Variations  ====
+
===== Spelling Variations  =====
  
 
Check for variant spellings of your ancestor's name. Many recorders spelled names according to sound. A person may be listed with a nickname or abbreviation.  
 
Check for variant spellings of your ancestor's name. Many recorders spelled names according to sound. A person may be listed with a nickname or abbreviation.  
  
==== Handwriting  ====
+
===== Handwriting  =====
  
 
Most original documents are handwritten. If you cannot read a letter, look at other names in the record to see how the writer made certain letters. Some handbooks illustrate the ways letters were written in earlier times.  
 
Most original documents are handwritten. If you cannot read a letter, look at other names in the record to see how the writer made certain letters. Some handbooks illustrate the ways letters were written in earlier times.  
  
==== Dates  ====
+
===== Dates  =====
  
 
You may want to check a range of dates for an event. It may be recorded on a different date than you expect.  
 
You may want to check a range of dates for an event. It may be recorded on a different date than you expect.  
  
=== Record the Results  ===
+
==== Record the Results  ====
  
 
Record what you find on your research log, even if you don't find any new information. If you don't do this, you may waste time searching the same record again. Make copies of key documents.  
 
Record what you find on your research log, even if you don't find any new information. If you don't do this, you may waste time searching the same record again. Make copies of key documents.  
  
==== Photocopies  ====
+
===== Photocopies  =====
  
 
Copy centers are located on each floor of the Family History Library and the FamilySearch Center. Machines are available to copy books, microfilm, and microfiche.  
 
Copy centers are located on each floor of the Family History Library and the FamilySearch Center. Machines are available to copy books, microfilm, and microfiche.  
Line 319: Line 277:
 
Under certain conditions specified in the law, a library patron may make a photocopy or other reproduction of copyrighted material. One of these conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." The law calls this a "fair use" of the material, which does not infringe on the copyright held by its owner. If someone later uses a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," he or she may be liable for copyright infringement.  
 
Under certain conditions specified in the law, a library patron may make a photocopy or other reproduction of copyrighted material. One of these conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." The law calls this a "fair use" of the material, which does not infringe on the copyright held by its owner. If someone later uses a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," he or she may be liable for copyright infringement.  
  
== 5. Use the Information  ==
+
=== 5. Use the Information  ===
  
 
[[Image:Research Guide Chart5.jpg|Research Guide Chart5]]  
 
[[Image:Research Guide Chart5.jpg|Research Guide Chart5]]  
  
=== Evaluate the Information  ===
+
==== Evaluate the Information  ====
  
 
In order to evaluate your information, consider the following:  
 
In order to evaluate your information, consider the following:  
Line 332: Line 290:
 
*Is the source of the information credible?
 
*Is the source of the information credible?
  
=== Transfer the Information  ===
+
==== Transfer the Information  ====
  
 
Add any new information to your family group records. Record the source of the information. The source can help you resolve problems with conflicting information. For example, if a birth record gives one birth date, and an obituary gives another birth date for the same person, you will want to determine which date came from the more authoritative source (usually the source made closest to the time of the event).  
 
Add any new information to your family group records. Record the source of the information. The source can help you resolve problems with conflicting information. For example, if a birth record gives one birth date, and an obituary gives another birth date for the same person, you will want to determine which date came from the more authoritative source (usually the source made closest to the time of the event).  
  
=== Organize Your Records  ===
+
==== Organize Your Records  ====
  
 
Organize your records for easy access. One possible order is as follows:  
 
Organize your records for easy access. One possible order is as follows:  
Line 346: Line 304:
 
A number of computer programs can help you organize your records on your home computer. For information about programs that are compatible with FamilySearch (meaning they can share data easily with any FamilySearch file), see a staff member. One of these programs, Personal Ancestral File, is available for use at the Family History Library and at most family history centers.  
 
A number of computer programs can help you organize your records on your home computer. For information about programs that are compatible with FamilySearch (meaning they can share data easily with any FamilySearch file), see a staff member. One of these programs, Personal Ancestral File, is available for use at the Family History Library and at most family history centers.  
  
=== Share Information  ===
+
==== Share Information  ====
  
 
You can help make research easier and faster for yourself and for others by sharing the results of your research. Share the information you find with family members. They may have more information for you. The Family History Library also offers several opportunities for you to share information.  
 
You can help make research easier and faster for yourself and for others by sharing the results of your research. Share the information you find with family members. They may have more information for you. The Family History Library also offers several opportunities for you to share information.  
 
'''Contribute to Ancestral File.''' Submit your family information on a floppy diskette (using Personal Ancestral File or other FamilySearch-compatible software). See the printed instructions in Contributing Information to Ancestral File for more information, or contact FamilySearch™ Support, 15 East South Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84150; telephone 1-800-346-6044.
 
  
 
'''Share your family history.''' If you have written a family history, compiled an index, or created a database of genealogical information, you can place it in the Family History Library to be preserved and used by others. If possible, please grant permission (or obtain it from the copyright owner) for the library to microfilm the record and circulate it wherever the library chooses. Contact the Acquisitions Unit, Family History Library, 35 North West Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84150, for more information.  
 
'''Share your family history.''' If you have written a family history, compiled an index, or created a database of genealogical information, you can place it in the Family History Library to be preserved and used by others. If possible, please grant permission (or obtain it from the copyright owner) for the library to microfilm the record and circulate it wherever the library chooses. Contact the Acquisitions Unit, Family History Library, 35 North West Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84150, for more information.  
Line 356: Line 312:
 
'''Submit names for temple ordinance work.''' Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may want to submit names of ancestors for temple ordinance work. A staff member or your ward family history consultant can help you.  
 
'''Submit names for temple ordinance work.''' Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may want to submit names of ancestors for temple ordinance work. A staff member or your ward family history consultant can help you.  
  
=== Repeat the Process  ===
+
==== Repeat the Process  ====
  
 
Repeat the research process by choosing—  
 
Repeat the research process by choosing—  
Line 368: Line 324:
 
We hope this brief introduction will help you develop a lifelong interest in your family history. We invite you to return to the Family History Library, the FamilySearch Center, or a family history center as often as you would like. Please let us know if we can be of any further help.  
 
We hope this brief introduction will help you develop a lifelong interest in your family history. We invite you to return to the Family History Library, the FamilySearch Center, or a family history center as often as you would like. Please let us know if we can be of any further help.  
  
= Additional Information  =
+
== Additional Information  ==
  
== Indexing of Records  ==
+
=== Indexing of Records  ===
  
 
As you search for your family members beyond the first few generations, you will often use original records. Many of these records are not indexed and may be in languages or handwriting you are not familiar with. You can help index names found in original records, thereby making the records more accessible to other researchers.  
 
As you search for your family members beyond the first few generations, you will often use original records. Many of these records are not indexed and may be in languages or handwriting you are not familiar with. You can help index names found in original records, thereby making the records more accessible to other researchers.  
Line 378: Line 334:
 
Thousands of volunteers are helping to extract or index information from vital, census, and immigration records. For information about how you can participate in the Family Record Extraction program, ask a staff member for the name of the local extraction director.  
 
Thousands of volunteers are helping to extract or index information from vital, census, and immigration records. For information about how you can participate in the Family Record Extraction program, ask a staff member for the name of the local extraction director.  
  
== Other Services  ==
+
=== Other Services  ===
  
The following services are also available to you.
+
The following services are also available to you:
  
=== Orientation  ===
+
==== Orientation  ====
  
 
A brief orientation program is available at the Family History Library. To preserve the quiet research environment of the library, guided tours are not provided. Family history centers may provide orientation programs, including guided tours. Ask a staff member.  
 
A brief orientation program is available at the Family History Library. To preserve the quiet research environment of the library, guided tours are not provided. Family history centers may provide orientation programs, including guided tours. Ask a staff member.  
Line 388: Line 344:
 
An orientation to FamilySearch™ and the FamilySearch Center is available on each FamilySearch computer in the center.  
 
An orientation to FamilySearch™ and the FamilySearch Center is available on each FamilySearch computer in the center.  
  
=== Group Visits  ===
+
==== Group Visits  ====
  
 
For group visits, please contact the Family History Library, the FamilySearch™ Center, or a family history center in advance for a list of services, hours, holiday schedules, and other information that can make your visit more successful. Basic services are listed in the publication Family History Library and Family History Centers Services and Resources. This publication is updated annually. Ensure that your group is prepared to use the facility. In the Family History Library and FamilySearch Center, you can request a room for classes or meetings. The FamilySearch Center has rooms available with FamilySearch computers for group activities.  
 
For group visits, please contact the Family History Library, the FamilySearch™ Center, or a family history center in advance for a list of services, hours, holiday schedules, and other information that can make your visit more successful. Basic services are listed in the publication Family History Library and Family History Centers Services and Resources. This publication is updated annually. Ensure that your group is prepared to use the facility. In the Family History Library and FamilySearch Center, you can request a room for classes or meetings. The FamilySearch Center has rooms available with FamilySearch computers for group activities.  
Line 394: Line 350:
 
When you are in the research areas of the Family History Library, please separate into groups of no more than five, with a leader for each group.  
 
When you are in the research areas of the Family History Library, please separate into groups of no more than five, with a leader for each group.  
  
=== Additional Instruction  ===
+
==== Additional Instruction  ====
  
 
Ask a staff member about classes, printed aids, video training programs, and other instructional resources. Genealogical forms and instructional publications are available for sale. In the Family History Library, items for sale are located near each copy center.  
 
Ask a staff member about classes, printed aids, video training programs, and other instructional resources. Genealogical forms and instructional publications are available for sale. In the Family History Library, items for sale are located near each copy center.  
  
=== Accredited Genealogist® Professionals ===
+
==== Accredited Genealogists<sup>®</sup> and Certified Genealogists<sup>(SM)</sup>&nbsp; ====
  
If you wish to hire a researcher, ask a staff member for a list of accredited genealogist® professionals&nbsp;and the publication Hiring a Professional Genealogist. A list of qualified researchers can be found at [http://www.icapgen.org www.icapgen.org]. These people have passed a major examination in a geographic or subject area. They sign a code of ethics and renew their credentials every five years.
+
'''(Professional Researchers) '''<br>
  
=== Correspondence  ===
+
Two agencies license professional genealogical researchers: <br>1. The International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists® (ICAPGen) <br>2. The Board for Certification of Genealogists® (BCG). <br>Both organizations carefully test the research skills of their members&nbsp;before granting licensure. Both require their members to sign a code of ethics and have the members renew their credentials every five years. <br>A list of Accredited Genealogists can be found at [http://www.icapgen.org www.icapgen.org].<br>A list of Certified Genealogists can be found at [http://www.bcgcertification.org www.bcgcertification.org].
 +
 
 +
==== Correspondence  ====
  
 
The Family History Library will respond to any questions that can be answered briefly but does not provide a research service. Ask a staff member for a Reference Questionnaire form on which to send your question.  
 
The Family History Library will respond to any questions that can be answered briefly but does not provide a research service. Ask a staff member for a Reference Questionnaire form on which to send your question.  
  
=== Family History Centers  ===
+
==== Family History Centers  ====
  
Family History centers are located throughout the world. You can use most of the Family History Library's microfilms on loan. Ask a staff member for a list of addresses for a specific area.  
+
Family History Centers are located throughout the world. You can use most of the Family History Library's microfilms on loan. Go to the following [https://www.familysearch.org/locations website] to find the nearest Family History Center.  
  
=== Other Libraries and Archives  ===
+
==== Other Libraries and Archives  ====
  
 
Excellent information is available from courthouses, libraries, archives, and societies. Ask a staff member for addresses and more information.  
 
Excellent information is available from courthouses, libraries, archives, and societies. Ask a staff member for addresses and more information.  
Line 432: Line 390:
 
*When using photocopy equipment, please limit yourself to five copies when others are waiting.
 
*When using photocopy equipment, please limit yourself to five copies when others are waiting.
  
= Selecting Record Types  =
+
== Selecting Record Types  ==
  
{| class="plain"
+
{| class="plain FCK__ShowTableBorders"
 
|-
 
|-
 
| OBJECTIVE<br>To obtain information about—  
 
| OBJECTIVE<br>To obtain information about—  
 
| colspan="2" | RECORD TYPES<br>Look in the Family History Library Catalog, Locality section for these record types:
 
| colspan="2" | RECORD TYPES<br>Look in the Family History Library Catalog, Locality section for these record types:
 
|-
 
|-
|  
+
| <br>
 
| First look for:  
 
| First look for:  
 
| Then look for:
 
| Then look for:
Line 538: Line 496:
 
<nowiki>*Outside the United States and Canada, see "Civil Registration" instead of "Vital Records."</nowiki>  
 
<nowiki>*Outside the United States and Canada, see "Civil Registration" instead of "Vital Records."</nowiki>  
  
Note: Also search the [[Introduction to the Family History Library Catalog|Family History Library Catalog]], Subject section for key topics in your objective.  
+
Note: Also search the [[Introduction to the Family History Library Catalog|Family History Library Catalog]] , using the Subject section for key topics in your objective.  
  
= '''Related Content''' =
+
== Related Content  ==
  
 
*[[Principles of Family History Research|Principles of Family History Research]]
 
*[[Principles of Family History Research|Principles of Family History Research]]
  
[[Category:Beginners]]
+
<br>
 +
 
 +
<br>
 +
 
 +
[[Category:Beginners]] [[Category:Research_Process]]

Revision as of 22:50, 31 October 2012

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Contents

Purpose of the Guide

The purpose of this guide is to help you discover your ancestry using the records available in the Family History Library, the FamilySearch Center, or one of the more than two thousand family history centers located throughout the world.

Family History Library and Related Services

Family History Library

Since it was established in 1894, the Family History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has become the largest of its kind in the world. The library has collected millions of microfilms, thousands of microfiche and books, and many other records. Most of the microfilms have been acquired through an extensive microfilming program that began in 1938. Microfilmers are presently filming original documents in churches, courthouses, and other archives in many countries. The originals of these microfilms are preserved in a vault in the mountains near Salt Lake City. The library is located at 35 North West Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah. The telephone number is 1-866-406-1830; Email address fhl@familysearch.org.

Copies of the microfilms are available for use at the Family History Library and in family history centers. The Family History Library is designed to help individuals who need help in learning and searching records to extend their family lines. Many of the records in the library are available through the family history centers.  Some information collected by the library is available on the Internet at FamilySearch.

Family History Centers

Family History Centers are located throughout the world. Each has a basic collection of records and research publications to assist researchers. Each center has computers with Internet access. Most records available on microfilm or microfiche at the Family History Library may be ordered for use at the centers.

Services and Resources

Workers in the Library and family history center can help you learn how to use the records. They can't do research for you, but can help you use the library's catalog to locate records or Web sites, to do your own research. 

FamilySearch Center

The FamilySearch Center is designed to introduce individuals unacquainted with family history to experience the excitement of discovering their ancestors. The center, located in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building at 15 East South Temple Street in Salt Lake City, has access to the Internet.

Research Process

Family History research involves five basic steps. Each step is explained below. Staff members in the Family History Library or family history centers will be glad to help you complete these steps. A Research Overview is available as a video presentation to introduce you to the research process.

Research Guide1

1. Identify What You Know About Your Family

Research Guide Chart1

Fill Out a Pedigree Chart and Family Group Record

Recall as much information as you can about yourself and your family members. Record what you know on pedigree charts and family group sheets. Estimate dates and places if necessary.

  • A pedigree chart provides space to record information on four generations: yourself, your parents, your grandparents, and your great-grandparents.
  • A family group record provides space to record information about the parents and children of a family. You can also record the source of your information. Fill out a family group record for each couple on your pedigree chart.

Gather Additional Information

If you need more information, gather information from sources in your home or from a relative. Look for copies of birth, marriage, and death certificates; journals; scrapbooks; old letters; family Bibles; photographs; school records; military records; obituaries; deeds; and wills. Record on your pedigree chart and family group sheet any new information you find.

You may want to keep notes about your family history on a separate sheet of paper. These notes could be biographical information such as military service; education; social or economic status; migrations; participation in community, social, religious, or historical events; or physical descriptions.

Organize Your Records

Organize your records for easy access (see step 5 for suggestions on organizing).

2. Decide What You Want to Learn About Your Family

Research Guide Chart2

Select an Ancestor

Select one ancestor you would like to learn more about. Begin with an ancestor for whom you already have some information. You will need at least his surname and some idea of when and where he lived. If possible, select an ancestor born before 1920, because most of the library's records date from before 1920. A staff member can help you.

To select an ancestor, look at the entries on your pedigree chart that have one of the following problems:

  • Missing information: names, dates, or places are missing.
  • Incomplete information: part of a name, date, or place is missing.
  • Unverified information: information cannot be traced to a credible source (that is, someone who would have known the information first hand).
  • Conflicting information: information from two sources does not agree.

Select a Research Question

Identify questions you want to answer about the person you selected. For example:

  • Where was he born? or married?
  • Where or when did he die?
  • Who were his parents?

Select one question as your research objective. By focusing on one question at a time, you increase your chances for success.

Prepare a Research Log

Use a research log to keep track of the records you want to search and the information you found. At the top of the log, write the name of the ancestor you selected, your research objective, and when and where he may have lived.

3. Select Records to Search

Research Guide Chart3

Identify a Record Category

The Family History Library and family history centers have the following basic categories of records.

  • Compiled Records
  • Original Records
  • Background Information -- These are resources dealing with geographical, historical, or cultural information. They include local histories, maps, gazetteers, language dictionaries, and guidebooks. Search these to learn more about the area where your ancestors lived and the events that may have affected their lives and the records about them.
  • Finding Aids -- These help you find the location of records; name indexes; library catalogs; or Web sites.

Compiled Records

It is best to search compiled records first. You can save a lot of time by seeing what information others have already found about your family. Compiled records can usually be searched quickly and easily. The following compiled records are available at the Family History Library or family history centers.

Ancestral File

Ancestral File is a collection of pedigree and family group records submitted by people throughout the world. It is available on computer as part of FamilySearch™. It contains millions of names, and new names are added each year. Using Ancestral File, you can see an ancestor's pedigree, his family (both as a child and as a parent), his descendants, and the names and addresses of the people who submitted the information. You can make corrections to any errors you find in the file.

You will need the name of your ancestor to search this file. Printed instructions and computerized help messages are available to help you use the file. You may also ask a staff member for assistance. You can hand-copy the information you find, make a printed paper copy at cost, or copy the information onto a storage device, such as a flash drive, to use with your home computer.

International Genealogical Index

The International Genealogical Index contains millions of names of deceased persons from around the world, and new names are added periodically. It lists birth and marriage information and dates of ordinances performed in temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It also gives the sources of the information. Many of the names come from original birth and marriage records from the early 1500s to 1875. Other names were submitted by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The index is available on computer as part of FamilySearch and on microfiche.

The index identifies only the parents or spouse of a person. It does not show family members linked together in pedigrees or family groups as does Ancestral File.

Family Histories

The library has thousands of family histories. In a family history, you may find genealogical information, photographs, biographical sketches, and stories about the family. Books are usually available only in the Family History Library. However, most histories are also available on microfilm or microfiche and can be ordered for use at a family history center.

To find a family history, you will need to use the "Surname" section of the Family History Library Catalog (if using the microfiche edition) or the "Surname" search in FamilySearch. The catalog does not list every name found in a family history. Only major families found in a history are listed. Look for your ancestor's surname (last name).

After you find catalog entries that contain your ancestor's surname, read the descriptions to see if the family history matches the time period and place in which your ancestor lived. The computer version of the catalog allows you to search for key words in the descriptions. This feature can save you time if many family histories contain your ancestor's surname.

When you find a book or microfilm that you want to view, write the complete call number, author, and title in your research log (see the example). Then obtain the book or microfilm as explained in step 4. 

Other Sources of Compiled Records

Other sources of compiled records are available. Take your pedigree chart and research log to a staff member to determine whether any of the following sources would be helpful and how to locate them. Most compiled records are described in the Family History Library Catalog.

  • Genealogies
  • Biographies
  • Genealogical periodicals and indexes, such as the Periodical Source Index
  • Family newsletters
  • Local histories
  • Family Group Records Collection

Original Records

These are records created at the time of important events in your ancestors' lives. For example, a local church or the local government may have recorded your ancestors' births, christenings, marriages, and burials.

These are records of previous research on individuals and families already done by others, such as family histories, biographies, or genealogies with pedigree charts and family group records. Though compiled records are very helpful, some information may be inaccurate or incomplete. The information is submitted by library patrons and is not verified by the Family History Library. Always carefully evaluate the information you find.

Most original records in the Family History Library are microfilm copies of records found in courthouses, churches, government offices, historical societies, and other archives throughout the world. Some records are available as books. Others are available on computer as part of FamilySearch. The following are some of the major types of original records available:

Vital Records and Civil Registration

Most government offices keep records of births, marriages, and deaths. In the Family History Library Catalog these records are listed under "Vital Records" for the United States and Canada, and "Civil Registration" for other countries.

Church Records

The church your ancestors attended may have kept records of their christenings, baptisms, confirmations, marriages, or burials. Church records are especially important if civil vital records are unavailable for a time period or region where your ancestor lived.

Cemetery Records

From cemetery records and headstones, you may be able to learn the names, birth dates, and death dates of family members buried near each other. The epitaphs may help you establish the relationships between ancestors.

Census Records

Most national governments conduct periodic censuses. Beginning in 1850, United States federal censuses listed every member of a household by name, with information about sex, age, country or state of birth, and occupation. Census records are especially helpful in determining where your ancestors lived.

Probate Records

When a person dies, court records may be created containing a copy of the person's will, if one exists, and the court's decision about how the estate is to be distributed among his heirs. These are called probate records, and they often provide names and family relationships.

Military Records

The names of individuals who served in the military or who were eligible for military service appear in military records.

Immigration Records

Passenger lists or other immigration records may provide the date or ship on which an immigrant ancestor arrived or the name of the port to which he came.

Note: To find the records of an immigrant's place of origin, you usually need to know the exact city, town, or county where he lived. If you do not know this, search the records of the country to which he migrated. For more information, see the publication Tracing Immigrant Origins, available at the library or family history centers.

Other Original Documents

Other original documents include court, land, naturalization, taxation, business, medical, and school records. Be sure to check all jurisdictions (for example, town, county, state, and country) that may have kept records about your ancestor.

Choose a Record Type

When selecting a record, first decide which type of record may contain the information you are looking for (such as vital record, cemetery record, or military record). To decide upon a record type, do one of the following:

  • See the chart on the last page of this guide, or
  • Use the Wiki article for your country, state, or province. Each country article includes a link to a chart (called a "record selection table") showing which types of original records contain information for various types of research objectives. The articles also describe what records are available for an area and a time period, or
  • Take your research log to a staff member and ask for help in determining which type of record you should search for.

Select Specific Records to Search

Once you have determined what type of record to search for, you will need to select a specific record. Most original records are listed in the "Locality" (or place) section of the Family History Library Catalog. This section lists records by country, state or province, county, or town. You will need to know the place where your ancestor lived and the type of record you chose to search, such as census, land and property, or vital record. The record type is called a topic in the FamilySearch version of the Family History Library Catalog.

When you find the records for the place where your ancestor lived, read the descriptions to see if a record covers the time period you need. Indexes are often available for original records. If one is available, search the index first.

If you do not find any records listed under a place, search for records of other jurisdictions, such as the state, county, or city. You can also look for records of nearby places. Do not hesitate to ask a staff member for assistance.

Describe the Records on Your Research Log

On your research log, record the authors, titles, time periods, and Family History Library call numbers of any records you select. Your research log might look like the example. You now have the information you need to obtain a record.

Summary

Identify a record category. Search compiled records first. Then search original records.

Choose a record type. Use the chart (called "Record Selection Table") found by searching for the country in the Wiki.

Select specific records to search. Find the locality and record type in the Locality section of the Family History Library Catalog.

Describe the records in your research log.

4. Obtain and Search the Record

Research Guide Chart4

Obtain the Record

At the Family History Library

Records at the Family History Library are arranged by geographical area. The call number of the record tells you which area of the library this record is located in and whether it is a book, microfilm, or microfiche. The following are sample call numbers:

FHL US/CAN Film
3075101 Item 7

FHL US/CAN Book
929.273 P833ph

To obtain the record, do the following:

Go to the floor that has the records for that geographical area. These areas are listed beside the elevators on each floor. You can also ask a staff member for help or obtain a map of the library from the information desks.

Locate the book, microfilm, or microfiche storage areas.

Look for the call number of the record. Records are filed numerically by call number. Library attendants are located next to the copy centers on each floor and can assist you.

Take the microfilms or microfiche to the appropriate reader to use them.

Not all microfilms are located in the library. You may need to order some microfilms. A library attendant can help you do this. The microfilm will arrive in a few hours or a few days, depending on where it is stored.

At a Family History Center

Take your research log to a staff member. He or she can tell you whether the center already has the record. If not, the staff member will help you fill out a Microfilm and Microfiche Order Card and tell you the fees for postage and handling. Individual microfilms can be lent to family history centers for different lengths of time. The microfilm or microfiche should arrive in one to three weeks. Books cannot be lent to family history centers.

Other Repositories

Not every record about your ancestor is at the Family History Library or a family history center. You may need to obtain copies of some records at other libraries, archives, or government and church offices.

Search the Record

Do not hesitate to ask a staff member for help to use the microfilm or microfiche equipment. Printed instructional materials are available to help you search some records.

If you have difficulty finding a record on a microfilm, check the item number of the record. Several records may be on one microfilm, and you may need to read the title page for each item to make sure you have the correct one. Names in an original record may be arranged chronologically or alphabetically. The following are common research problems you should be aware of.

Name Changes

Many immigrants changed or shortened their names after arriving in the new country. You may need to check for various possibilities.

Spelling Variations

Check for variant spellings of your ancestor's name. Many recorders spelled names according to sound. A person may be listed with a nickname or abbreviation.

Handwriting

Most original documents are handwritten. If you cannot read a letter, look at other names in the record to see how the writer made certain letters. Some handbooks illustrate the ways letters were written in earlier times.

Dates

You may want to check a range of dates for an event. It may be recorded on a different date than you expect.

Record the Results

Record what you find on your research log, even if you don't find any new information. If you don't do this, you may waste time searching the same record again. Make copies of key documents.

Photocopies

Copy centers are located on each floor of the Family History Library and the FamilySearch Center. Machines are available to copy books, microfilm, and microfiche.

Many family history centers have equipment for photocopying books, microfilm, and microfiche. If a center does not have the equipment, you can request photocopies of pages of books, microfilms, or microfiche from the Family History Library. Ask a staff member for a photoduplication request form. You will need to list the author, title, and call number of the record, and specific page numbers. Fees are listed on the form.

Please be aware that many of the books, microfilms, and microfiche in the library are copyrighted. The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.

Under certain conditions specified in the law, a library patron may make a photocopy or other reproduction of copyrighted material. One of these conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." The law calls this a "fair use" of the material, which does not infringe on the copyright held by its owner. If someone later uses a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," he or she may be liable for copyright infringement.

5. Use the Information

Research Guide Chart5

Evaluate the Information

In order to evaluate your information, consider the following:

  • Did you find the information you were looking for?
  • Is the information complete?
  • Does the information conflict with other information you have?
  • Is the source of the information credible?

Transfer the Information

Add any new information to your family group records. Record the source of the information. The source can help you resolve problems with conflicting information. For example, if a birth record gives one birth date, and an obituary gives another birth date for the same person, you will want to determine which date came from the more authoritative source (usually the source made closest to the time of the event).

Organize Your Records

Organize your records for easy access. One possible order is as follows:

  • Pedigree charts numbered and arranged numerically
  • Family group records in alphabetical order by the husband's name
  • Notes, research logs, and copies of documents behind the related family group record

A number of computer programs can help you organize your records on your home computer. For information about programs that are compatible with FamilySearch (meaning they can share data easily with any FamilySearch file), see a staff member. One of these programs, Personal Ancestral File, is available for use at the Family History Library and at most family history centers.

Share Information

You can help make research easier and faster for yourself and for others by sharing the results of your research. Share the information you find with family members. They may have more information for you. The Family History Library also offers several opportunities for you to share information.

Share your family history. If you have written a family history, compiled an index, or created a database of genealogical information, you can place it in the Family History Library to be preserved and used by others. If possible, please grant permission (or obtain it from the copyright owner) for the library to microfilm the record and circulate it wherever the library chooses. Contact the Acquisitions Unit, Family History Library, 35 North West Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84150, for more information.

Submit names for temple ordinance work. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may want to submit names of ancestors for temple ordinance work. A staff member or your ward family history consultant can help you.

Repeat the Process

Repeat the research process by choosing—

  • Another record to look at, or
  • Another research objective for this person, or
  • Another ancestor to learn about.

You can learn more about how to do research in the and at family history centers.

We hope this brief introduction will help you develop a lifelong interest in your family history. We invite you to return to the Family History Library, the FamilySearch Center, or a family history center as often as you would like. Please let us know if we can be of any further help.

Additional Information

Indexing of Records

As you search for your family members beyond the first few generations, you will often use original records. Many of these records are not indexed and may be in languages or handwriting you are not familiar with. You can help index names found in original records, thereby making the records more accessible to other researchers.

If you have a current indexing project that you will be publishing, please register it by writing to the Genealogical Projects Registry, 35 North West Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84150. To obtain information from the registry, write to Genealogical Projects Registry, National Genealogical Society, 4527 Seventeenth Street North, Arlington, VA 22207-2399, USA.

Thousands of volunteers are helping to extract or index information from vital, census, and immigration records. For information about how you can participate in the Family Record Extraction program, ask a staff member for the name of the local extraction director.

Other Services

The following services are also available to you:

Orientation

A brief orientation program is available at the Family History Library. To preserve the quiet research environment of the library, guided tours are not provided. Family history centers may provide orientation programs, including guided tours. Ask a staff member.

An orientation to FamilySearch™ and the FamilySearch Center is available on each FamilySearch computer in the center.

Group Visits

For group visits, please contact the Family History Library, the FamilySearch™ Center, or a family history center in advance for a list of services, hours, holiday schedules, and other information that can make your visit more successful. Basic services are listed in the publication Family History Library and Family History Centers Services and Resources. This publication is updated annually. Ensure that your group is prepared to use the facility. In the Family History Library and FamilySearch Center, you can request a room for classes or meetings. The FamilySearch Center has rooms available with FamilySearch computers for group activities.

When you are in the research areas of the Family History Library, please separate into groups of no more than five, with a leader for each group.

Additional Instruction

Ask a staff member about classes, printed aids, video training programs, and other instructional resources. Genealogical forms and instructional publications are available for sale. In the Family History Library, items for sale are located near each copy center.

Accredited Genealogists® and Certified Genealogists(SM) 

(Professional Researchers)

Two agencies license professional genealogical researchers:
1. The International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists® (ICAPGen)
2. The Board for Certification of Genealogists® (BCG).
Both organizations carefully test the research skills of their members before granting licensure. Both require their members to sign a code of ethics and have the members renew their credentials every five years.
A list of Accredited Genealogists can be found at www.icapgen.org.
A list of Certified Genealogists can be found at www.bcgcertification.org.

Correspondence

The Family History Library will respond to any questions that can be answered briefly but does not provide a research service. Ask a staff member for a Reference Questionnaire form on which to send your question.

Family History Centers

Family History Centers are located throughout the world. You can use most of the Family History Library's microfilms on loan. Go to the following website to find the nearest Family History Center.

Other Libraries and Archives

Excellent information is available from courthouses, libraries, archives, and societies. Ask a staff member for addresses and more information.

Library Rules

The Family History Library, the FamilySearch Center, and family history centers offer their services to the public with the understanding that those who use the collection will abide by the guidelines governing such use. Please observe the following rules so that all patrons can successfully use the facilities:

  • Please handle the equipment, books, and other materials carefully.
  • Please maintain a quiet atmosphere for research.
  • Do not leave personal belongings unattended. The library or center is not responsible for items that are lost or stolen.
  • Children under twelve must be kept under the control of their parents.
  • Food and drinks are not permitted in a family history center. In the Family History Library, they are permitted only in the snack room.
  • Smoking is not permitted anywhere in the building or on the grounds.

The Family History Library has the following additional rules. Ask a staff member at the FamilySearch Center or a family history center for the rules for their facilities.

  • You may take up to five rolls of microfilm from the cabinets at any given time. Please refile each microfilm you use.
  • If the library is busy and you expect to be away from a microfilm reader for more than thirty minutes, take your materials with you so someone else can use the machine. Materials left at an unused reader for more than thirty minutes may be removed by a library attendant.
  • You may take up to five books from the shelves at any given time. Please return books to the red shelves at the end of the stacks where the books were found.
  • When using photocopy equipment, please limit yourself to five copies when others are waiting.

Selecting Record Types

OBJECTIVE
To obtain information about—
RECORD TYPES
Look in the Family History Library Catalog, Locality section for these record types:

First look for: Then look for:
Age Census, Vital Records*, Cemeteries Miltary Records, Taxation, Obituaries
Birth date Vital Records*, Church Records, Bible Records Cemeteries, Obituaries, Census, Newspapers, Military Records
Birth date Vital Records*, Church Records, Bible Records Cemeteries, Obituaries, Census, Newspapers, Military Records
Birthplace Vital Records*, Church Records, Census Newspapers, Obituaries, Military Records
City or parish of foreign birth Church Records, Genealogy, Biography, Obituaries, Naturalization and Citizenship Emigration and Immigration, Vital Records*, History
Country of foreign birth Census, Emigration and Immigration, Naturalization and Citizenship, Vital Records* Military Records, Church Records, Newspapers, Obituaries
County origins and boundaries History, Maps Gazetteers
Death Vital Records, Cemeteries, Probate Records, Church Records, Obituaries Newspapers, Military Records, Court Records, Land and Property
Divorce Court Records, Divorce Records Newspapers, Vital Records*
Ethnicity Minorities, Native Races, Societies Church Records, Emigration and Immigration, Naturalization and Citizenship
Historical background History, Periodicals, Genealogy Church History, Minorities
Immigration or emigration date Emigration and Immigration, Naturalization and Citizenship, Genealogy Census, Biography, Newspapers, Church Records
Maiden name Vital Records*, Church Records, Newspapers, Bible Records Military Records, Cemeteries, Probate Records, Obituaries
Marriage Vital Records*, Church Records, Census, Newspapers, Bible Records Biography, Genealogy, Military Records, Probate Records, Land and Property, Nobility
Occupation Census, Directories, Emigration and Immigration, Civil Registration, Occupations, Probate Records Newspapers, Court Records, Obituaries, Officials and Employees
Parents, children, and other family members Vital Records*, Church Records, Census, Probate Records, Obituaries Bible Records, Newspapers, Emigration and Immigration, Land and Property
Physical description Military Records, Biography, Court Records Naturalization and Citizenship, Civil Registration, Church Records, Emigration and Immigration, Genealogy, Newspapers
Place-finding aids Gazetteers, Maps Directories, History, Periodicals, Land and Property, Taxation
Place (town) of residence when you know only the state Census, Genealogy, Military Records, Vital Records*, Church Records, Directories Biography, Probate Records, History, Land and Property, Taxation
Places family has lived Census, Land and Property, History Military Records, Taxation, Obituaries
Previous research (compiled genealogy) Genealogy, Periodicals, History Biography, Societies, Nobility
Record-finding aids Archives and Libraries, Societies, Genealogy Periodicals
Religion Church Records, History, Biography, Civil Registration Bible Records, Cemeteries, Obituaries, Genealogy

*Outside the United States and Canada, see "Civil Registration" instead of "Vital Records."

Note: Also search the Family History Library Catalog , using the Subject section for key topics in your objective.

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