History of the Mesa Family History Center
History of the Mesa Regional Family History Center
The Mesa Regional Family History Center collection began in the late 1920’s coinciding with the dedication of the Mesa Temple in 1927. In 1930 a number of family history pamphlets were offered to James W. Lesueur of the Arizona Temple Presidency and member of the Maricopa County Library Board. At his request they were purchased by the Maricopa County Public Library System and placed in a small room in the Mesa Public Library.
In 1933, the Maricopa County Public Library asked that they be moved, so they were transferred to the Arizona Temple Dining Room (in the basement at that time), and placed there with other donated items.
The collection of books kept growing to the point that a new facility opened on the West side of the Temple, 464 East First Avenue, in 1951. This building worked well until we out-grew it. One day visitors from the Salt Lake History Library came to meet with the Mesa directors. During a break, they visited the center. There they saw very crowded conditions with some patrons even sitting on the floor. When they got back to their meeting the question was asked, “How does the fire department feel about that?” The answer given was, “Well, they don't come very often and we don't advertise.”
The current library facility at 41 S. Hobson opened in 1992. Land and construction costs were donated by John and Della Allen of Mesa. The building on First Avenue is still used as a 'Training Center' with a computer lab, bindery, offices, storage space, and a large presentation room with theater seating for 150.
Today, the Mesa Center is incorporated into the L.D.S. Church’s Family History System being the largest Family History Center outside of Utah. When the library went digital, it discovered that the cataloging system did not match that of the Salt Lake Family History Library. Thousands of book and film numbers were changed to match Salt Lake's system. It was also discovered that Mesa had books and film that Salt Lake didn’t have.
Over 35,000 patrons visit the Mesa Center each year, and thousands more visit online at www.MesaRFHC.org. Here one will find instruction for basic research as well as links to specific locality specific aids in both English and Spanish, including free access to many online subscription sites.
Compiled by Marsha Atkin
Sources: Miscellaneous Families, 920.02 D2 v. 11.
Jean Morgan Family History Consultant, Marilyn Crandall Mesa Family History Center Librarian,