Book and Film Numbers Used by the Family History LibraryEdit This Page

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Family History Library



The Family History Library has used a few different methods to number its books and films since the library started in 1894. These old numbers for books and films are no longer used so the current numbers for the books and films must be determined.

There were three old numbering systems for books and three old numbering systems for films.

Book Numbers

1. First numbering System

The first numbering system for books used a topic code or a geographic code and a number, such as:

  • R8A21 (reference books began with an 'R')
  • NY 134 (a book about New York)
  • Eng 369 (a book about England)

The numbers were assigned in the order the book was received into the library's collection.

Family histories were grouped into classes 'A' or 'B', such as:

  • A5D8
  • B15A139

There was no direct corrolation between any of the letters in the call number and the surname of the family whom the book was about. 

2. Second numbering system

Microfilm Numbers

1. First numbering System

The first numbering system for films used an F (for film), then F.H. (for family history) or a geographic code, then a number or a letter and number and often a part number. A part number designated a separate film in a film collection. Examples:

  • F F.H. 441
  • F Ga. 7
  • F Me. 11 pt. 289
  • F Pa. C 9f pt. 1
  • F Mass. H3
  • F N.Y. C 16b
  • F Vt. W 25a pt. 2

2. Second numbering system

The second numbering system used a number often with a part number. These numbers were also called "red numbers" because, for a number of years, the numbers were printed in red ink on the film boxes. Again a part number designated a separate film in a film collection. Examples:

  • 1448
  • 1379 pt. 4
  • 2756 pt. 356
  • 7079 pt. 2
  • 2745

The tricky part of this system is it is hard to know if a number -- such as 2745 -- is an old, red number without a part number or if it is a current number. Old, red numbers stopped at about 8000, so any past that should be current numbers.

3. Third numbering system

The current numbering system started over with number 1 and new films are assigned the next sequential number. No letters or part numbers are used. As the library now has over 2 million films in its collection, zeros are sometimes added on the front of a film number to make it a 7-digit number, but they are not needed. Numbers are good with or without the leading zeros. For example:

  • 0000001
  • 4821
  • 20589
  • 490682
  • 2087254

Converting Old Film Numbers to New

Here are several ways to convert the old GS film numbers into the current Family History Library film numbers.

If you need to convert an old GS book number, consult one of these resources, most of which are available on film or fiche.

See Also


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