The Family History Library (FHL) is a genealogical research facility provided and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the LDS or Mormon Church).
The origins of the Family History Library can be traced to the founding of the Genealogical Society of Utah
in 1894. The first library was located in the office of the Church Historian at 58 East South Temple in Salt Lake City
. The library was located in the Church Office Building
when it opened in 1971, but moved to its current building in 1985.
Its main purpose is to fulfill one of the LDS Church fundamental tenets: that deceased family members, especially ancestors
, can be baptized
by proxy into the LDS church so that they may receive salvation
. Other ordinances can also be performed for the dead. These ordinances are performed in Temples
The library is in Salt Lake City, Utah
, where the headquarters of the LDS Church are located. It is the largest genealogical library in the world and is open to the general public at no charge. The library holds genealogical records for over 110 countries, territories, and possessions. Its collections include over 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed
genealogical records; 742,000 microfiche
; 310,000 books, serials
, and other formats; 4,500 periodicals
; 700 electronic resources.
The library offers research assistance to help patrons trace their own family history. Professional genealogists and many volunteers offer assistance in about 30 different languages, which includes reading and translating genealogically important documents. The staff of the Library represents the largest group of credentialed genealogists in any institution. The library also offers free one-on-one consultations on difficult research problems. Additionally there are classes on genealogical research topics free to the public. The schedule of classes can be found on the Library's website, FamilySearch.org.
The library is in the process of digitizing its entire microfilm collection. It is estimated that the digitizing project will be completed about 2012
. An online index to the digitized records is also being created. Volunteers to the project are now being actively solicited at FamilySearchIndexing.org
for those with PC or PC compatible operating systems. As of March 2007, indexers for the project have several types of records from which to choose, including the 1900 US Census from several states, and various vital records. The searchable database containing the digital images and index will be available through the church's FamilySearch
website. The Pilot Site version may be accessed at http://search.labs.familysearch.org/recordsearch/start.html
Branches of the library are called family history centers
(FHC). There are over 4,000 family history centers operating in more than 88 countries. Most of the microfilms in the main library's collection can be loaned to a family history center for a nominal charge. These centers are staffed by volunteers, and, like the main library, are free of charge and open to the public (LDS Church members and nonmembers alike).