Thursday, April 03, 2008


Alright, now that the car is repaired I can wander a bit away
from my computer keyboard in search of records. One of the
places I plan to visit in the next few weeks in the Family
History Center in the nearby town of Hingham.

Since I’ve never been to a FHC before, I thought I’d ask
some of the more experienced genealogists and geneabloggers
out there for any tips or words of advice that might be helpful.
For example, am I allowed to download anything to my

My next available window of opportunity for a visit is
next Thursday, so I’d like to be well prepared before I go!


Thomas MacEntee said...

Randy at Genea-Musings is a great resource. I volunteer him! I'm not kidding!

Miriam said...

Bill, here are some suggestions I give to my Basic Online Genealogy students, based upon my own experience:

1. Always call before you go, because the FHCs are volunteer staffed. You never know if someone was unable to work that day due to illness, transportation problems, or bad weather, etc. Occasionally there are church holidays or events that we non-LDS people may be unaware of, and these may be reason for the FHC to be closed.

2. Each FHC has different equipment, because it takes time to purchase and install new and updated technology. We have four FHCs in my county. The one that is nearest to me is, fortunately, the one with the most modern computers, scanners, and microfilm readers. One I visited across town had a better selection of film on permanent loan than the one I usually patronize, but not as modern equipment. If the FHC has fairly modern equipment, then yes, you should be able to scan microfilm and microfiche that they have on hand and download it to your flash drive. Sometimes, you can only print a record on paper, because of the equipment available.

3. It's likely, unless it is a large facility, that the FHC will not have films or fiche on hand that will be helpful to you. (And you may be surprised at just how small a facility it is!) However, ask to see the films/fiche that are on permanent just never know! The items on permanent loan will probably also be cataloged on card files, or perhaps on a computer catalog. You can peruse these to see if there is something of interest for you to view while you are there. Don't be afraid to ask a volunteer to show you how to set up the film reader equipment.

3. Take the opportunity to order microfilm from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City that you believe will be helpful in your research. It will cost about $5 to rent a microfilm roll (depends upon the sales tax in your area). It is well worth it to also order the microfilm roll on which the index to the records has been filmed, if there is one. It generally takes 2 weeks to 2 months to get the film from Salt Lake City to your FHC, depending on the availability of the film.

4. Check out the free databases that the FHC has access to: Footnote, WorldVitalRecords, Godfrey Memorial Library, Kindred Konnections, etc.

5. Bring your GEDCOM on your flash drive and see if they have free software available to try out on their computers. I have tried out Family Atlas this way, and my local FHC also has RootsMagic.

6. Check into the books and publications that they may have on hand.

7. Enjoy your experience! After a few trips, you'll be an old pro and wonder why you didn't visit earlier!

Bill West said...

Hi Thomas,
Yeah, Randy came immediately to mind but he's a very busy dude so I thought I'd throw the question out to everyone.
But I agree. he's a great resource!

Bill West said...

Thanks for the suggestions!
I'm going to print these(and others I get)out and bring them along with me when I go to the FHC.