Genealogy Buffs Be Aware! Family History Centers

Early last week, I had the opportunity to tour Sarnia’s Family History Center, an office nestled in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints building at 1400 Murphy Road. These institutions are present in LDS churches across the country and across the world, and their mandate is to help individuals research and better understanding their family histories. The Mormon faith believes that ordinances can be performed for individuals after their death, and this connection of ancestors with religion has created one of the most substantial genealogical forces in the world.

While Mormons believe in an intricate connection between genealogy and their faith, the genealogical resources they have compiled are open for the use of anyone regardless of their religion or ideology. The services are all available free of charge, and come without any assumption that you must convert in order to access these resources. While the Lambton Room specializes in genealogical documents and sources for Lambton County specifically, the Family History Center is international in scope. They can help you research and understand documents that are older and from a wealth of different countries.

Family History Centers are the local hubs for the transmission of the church’s incredible genealogical holdings. They are the local eyes and ears for the Family History Library Building in Salt Lake City. That 142,00 square foot five storey building is the largest library of its kind in the world. FamilySearch.org asserts, “The collection includes over 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records: 727,000 microfiche; 356,000 books, serials, and other formats; over 4,500 periodicals; 3,725 electronic resources.” Some pretty impressive numbers, buffered by the 600 million names in their International Genealogical Index. All resources at the Salt Lake City library can be ordered through inter-library loans and accessed at any Family History Center (for a small fee, which covers the shipping).

Not only does the LDS care for records that have already been gathered and indexed, but they are also involved in the indexing and digitizing of additional records. Millions of names are being indexed every day by the LDS’s extensive network of volunteers. These volunteers come from across the world, and documents are being indexed in dozens of languages in hundreds of locations. In this type of project, it is essential to ensure that the documents are being indexed accurately, and a control system has been put in place. Multiple individuals index the same document, and their indexes are each submitted to a supervisor, who compares the documents for similarities. This quality control is a strong step towards ensuring the indexing is a close match to the original document.

While the Lambton Room has excellent and extensive genealogical resources (especially for individuals researching in Lambton County), the Family History Center in Sarnia is a great spot for researchers interested in looking for family members who are international in scope. Visit their Family History Center Portal for links to their online database, FamilySearch.org, as well as research tools, online courses, locations of Family History Centers near you, and much more!

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