Book and Film Numbers Used by the 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.
1. First book 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:
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
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:
- 1379 pt. 4
- 2756 pt. 356
- 7079 pt. 2
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:
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.
- Use the "Old microfilm number conversion" charts in this wiki.
- Search the The Family History Library Catalog by the locality or author of the record on the film.
- Consult List of all film call numbers in the Genealogical Society from 1938 to April 1958, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Genealogical Society, Library Division. Available on fiche.
- Use the old CD version of the catalog in the DOS version of FamilySearch. This version is available in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and may be available in a family history center near you. The center staff can help you convert the number.
If you need to convert an old GS book number, consult one of these resources, most of which are available on film or fiche.
- Changed call numbers, Great Britain. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Genealogical Society. Library Division.
- Changed numbers of American publications and United States. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Genealogical Society. Library Division.
- Changed numbers of Latin America, Spain and Portugal. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Genealogical Society. Library Division.
- Changes of family history "A" group call numbers. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Genealogical Society. Library Division.
- Changes of family history "B" group call numbers. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Genealogical Society. Library Division.
- Contact the Family History Library.
- Converting Old FHL Film Numbers to Current Numbers
- Category:Old microfilm number conversion (links to conversion tables)
- Introduction to the Family History Library Catalog
- Family History Library Catalog Place Search
- Family History Library Catalog Surname Search
- Family History Library Catalog Keyword Search
- Family History Library Catalog Title Search
- Family History Library Catalog Film and Fiche Search
- Family History Library Catalog Author Search
- Family History Library Catalog Subject Search
- Family History Library Catalog Call Number Search (for books and other printed materials)