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Biggest Repository of Genealogical Records on Earth -- and free to access.

Updated on June 19, 2014

Post Script -- Before you read this Hub.

Since writing this hub a couple of years ago, has made further updates so members and non-members all around the world can upload photos and stories of their ancestors. Even more importantly, with their absolute state-of-the-art technology, the research capabilities of this site are upgraded yet again and are the very best. You will find your ancestors' information on this site if you even just have a shred of a clue where to start.

The site screens have changed a little since I described them in this hub because our is now READ ONLY and we do everything on here: On this one site we do the research plus develop the family tree/pedigree and the family group records. Play around with it and you will soon be finding an ancestor or two that you could not find by another means.

When you press Search on the main screen, put in the information about your ancestor that you know even if it's just a last name and a geographical area. When you press the button, you will see possible sources for your ancestor such as censuses, birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates. A census can be an excellent source of information and a good starting place for your search. If you want to find Wills, court records and land records, take one of the tutorials by finding and pressing the Learn button.

Kinneard women, 1954.
Kinneard women, 1954. | Source

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has the largest genealogical collection of records in the world. You can access most of these records online free of charge. There is a huge volunteer effort going on, very well organized, of which you can be a part in order to complete the digitizing of all the records so that every last record eventually will be available online for free.

The genealogical records which have not yet been digitized are sitting safely 700 feet under Granite Mountain in the Salt Lake City area of Utah. If the record you are searching for is among those that are still in the process of being digitized, you can access the record by ordering the microfilmed or microfische version of it. I believe the cost to have the microfilm sent to a Family History Center near you is $5.00. You have six weeks to view the record as many times as you wish at the Family History Center (FHC).  The Family History Centers are free to visit and there are many more records available to you for free while you sit at a computer in one of the 4000 Family History Centers. Volunteers there are very helpful and knowledgeable. At most centers, the non-member patrons –people who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – often equal or out-number the member patrons.

A Wee Bit of History First

In 1894 the Church of Jesus Christ began the effort to preserve genealogy records "which at that time was mostly books," according to the narrator of the above-posted video. By 1938 microfilming began. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sent cameramen around the nation and around the world to obtain photographs of genealogical records wherever they were allowed to do so – for instance, in government offices and churches.

The Church decided the growing number of records in the collection needed protection from the elements, natural disasters and man-made destruction.

In 1960, construction began at Granite Mountain to prepare the mountain to hold vast amounts of records to be obtained in future years. Six chambers were built into the mountain with tunnels connecting the chambers. Each tunnel was 25 feet wide by 15 feet high.

I remember reading in 1979 that there were 90 cameramen going around the world at that time with the job of obtaining as many excellent photographs as possible of genealogical records of all kinds. The accommodating offices and institutions were always given a copy of the photographs on microfilm once the process was completed. Twenty-five years later, I read there were more than 200 people whose job it was to carry out this same mandate.

According to the short video, there are now approximately 3.5 billion images on 2.4 million rolls of microfilm housed in Granite Mountain. 170 languages are represented in these records.

The temperature in the vaults is kept at 55 degrees and 35 percent humidity. The video’s narrator states that under these ideal conditions, microfilm is able to be preserved for two hundred years.

How To Access the Millions of Digitized Records

The website to visit is

The first thing you will notice when you go to is the emblem of the tree with the words FamilySearch beneath it. This will be on the upper left part of your computer screen. To the right of that emblem is the word Learn. Press on that word. You will be taken to a list of approximately one hundred tutorial videos -- all free -- from which you can learn the history of a country and how to effectively do your genealogy research with the country’s records.

Setting aside a half hour a day or even just a half hour a week to take a video tutorial on how to do genealogical research within one particular country’s records is an exciting and very rewarding experience.

If you push the green arrow on the left top corner of your computer screen to get back to your home page of FamilySearch, you will see there are other tabs beside the word Learn which you can explore.

Leaving those other tabs for your own exploration, I want to now show you the first step in finding someone in a lineage. You will see the words Discover Your Family History in large lettering. Then you will see on this home page that there are three options: Historical Records or Family Trees or Library Catalog. The Library Catalog tab, the last one, is the one you would press in order to look for an ancestor you couldn’t find through the first two options. The Library Catalog – if used properly – will allow you to order one of the 2.4 million microfilms into the nearest Family History Center. But as for the records and images – a billion of them – that have already been digitized, you access these through the screen you are already on. You will notice that the term Historical Records is highlighted because this screen is the doorway to those records.

There are boxes for you to fill in. Supposing I was looking for my husband’s great-grandfather and supposing I knew his name was George Howard Williams. I would type his name into the appropriate boxes. I know he was born in Ontario. I know he was born in 1844, but supposing I could only calculate or approximate – guess with the help of other secondary records that I have – then I would fill in the year box with the approximated date. The next box for the year range will automatically fill in the same year as the first box, but you can change the year in that second box to a year of your choice.

Next, you could press the SEARCH button at this point or you could fill in the relationship box if you know the spouse’s name of the person you are searching for – or if you know one or both of the parents’ names. Then press search and wait a moment.

When the results come up, do not make the common mistake of thinking there is not much there. If you scroll down the screen with the scroll bar on the right, you will see the many categories listed on the left side of the screen.  For George Howard Williams in this example, there are 205 census results. Many of them are United States censuses, but that is all right.  Some people did travel between the 13 colonies and Ontario at that time.

I would first look at the pertinent Ontario census for the appropriate year. I could click on that. I wouldn’t though. First I would scroll to the bottom of that list where it says Births, Marriages, Deaths. Always go for the gold in case it’s there, just waiting for you. But if the person you are searching for does not have his record show up in the births, marriage or deaths section, then you can usually start by finding him on a census. Each time you find more information on a ten-year census, you are able to find more record sources you can begin searching.

You will notice there are many other ways to search on this site including huge archives of material which you access on a second screen. It will take you days and weeks to really master how to use this wonderful site. And by the way, often when you find a record you want, you can also print out the image of it.

If the image is not available yet, it is because there are still 10,000 volunteers working very hard to complete this digitization process.

If you would like to volunteer to work on the indexing process so that all of these records will continue to get digitized as fast and as accurately as possible, simply click the icon in the upper left corner that says Family Search. Once you are at the starting screen again, you will see over to the right of the page at the top that it says Indexing. Volunteers around the world, members of the church and non-members, are welcome to sign up any time to volunteer.   Each page of work any volunteer completes from the vast collections is checked, rechecked and triple- checked. The work can be done in one's own home and for as many or as few minutes per week as desired.

One last note, don’t forget to have a look at the titles of the many free tutorials under the tab Learn. Each video contains a wealth of information.

I hope this little introduction to the newly updated FamilySearch site has been helpful.


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    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      5 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      You're welcome, Graham. I'm glad you might find it useful.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      5 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      That's great. You will really like the new updates to the site, too. Now everything is done through rather than some of us using It's all very streamlined. And when you search for someone or find one name, look in the right area where it will automatically give you some 'hints' which are records of births, deaths, censuses, etc. -- if they come up easily. If not, fiddle with the name a little by leaving out the middle name, for instance. Or expand the date of birth range -- in some way change the parameters and you will find information at your fingertips.

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 

      5 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Pamela. Thank you so much for this great hub. So much information so freely given for the benefit of others. Tip Top.


    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      This could be useful to me as I have some family I want to find out more about. I have used some family history for both historical writing and some fiction. Up, useful and shared.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      5 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      That is great, RunAbstract. You can also upload photos and personal history stories to the site at for all the world to find. It is now called Family Tree as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has completed the technological steps they intended these past years so that it has an even more amazing capacity to search out the correct genealogical record you are hoping to find. Do remember to look for the censuses first which hold clues to help you put more information into the search area so you can come up with birth, death, marriage certificates, etc.

    • RunAbstract profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      I just opened a new tab, and went to the website your Hub directed us to, and I found out my great-grandfather's first name, and the year he was born! Thanks a bunch! I can't wait to go do more family tree research!

      Voted up!

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      7 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      I'm glad you liked the hub and might find it useful. Thanks for the vote.

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 

      7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Very useful and helpful hub. I've always wondered about my ancestors. I was born in Cuba, but Cuba's ethnically very diverse. This is a great hub for people in search of their "roots."

      Voted up


    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      7 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      That's good. Thanks, alocsin.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      7 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I did not know about this resource and will check it out since I'm the family historian. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      7 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      Yaduvanshi, is not related to the site. At, you must pay $29.95 or $39.95 to access certain records and then pay again when you see something else you want to acquire. has the biggest repository of records on earth -- and it's all free -- unless the record you need is still in the process of being digitized in which case you pay $6.00 or so to have the microfische sent to the nearest Family History Center. These are situated within the church buildings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. You then read the microfilm or microfische on the old-fashioned reader machines. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Yaduvanshi profile image


      7 years ago from Bharat Vrse

      Excellent to use ancestry to find one's roots. This is very helpful, Pamela

    • Sandralee007 profile image


      7 years ago from Vancouver Island,West Coast, B.C.,Canada

      Excellent information on how to use ancestry to find one's genealogy and roots! Thanks Pamela !

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      7 years ago from USA

      What a great write up about Familysearch. I volunteer to index and arbitrate indexing, and use the site quite a bit for my genealogy.

    • Jonathan Janco profile image

      Jonathan Janco 

      8 years ago from Southport, CT

      This is very helpful, Pamela. I tried but it just didnt have a wealth of data there. I'm going to try this. Thanx

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      8 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      Hi GarnetBird. That's good that your cousin was able to do that through Good sleuthing on his or her part.

      By the way, is available for use -- free of charge -- at the Family History Centers mentioned in the article -- 4000 Family History Centers -- but most often with all that has been added digitally now to the familysearch site, I've never needed to use I didn't explain it in this short article, but when a person gets to the next screen of which has links to archival collections galore, the sky is the limit.

      Thanks for dropping by.

    • GarnetBird profile image

      Gloria Siess 

      8 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      AMAZING!! Wonderful. My cousin traced our line back to 1642 Maryland via the Blackstones (from England)using was amazed at how much info is readily available online now. The vault looks intriguing! Good hub!

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      8 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      Thank you, Onusonus. Glad you liked it.

    • Onusonus profile image


      8 years ago from America

      Awesome article! Thumbs up.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      8 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      Eiddwen, Azee Raja, Susie Duzy, Thank you for reading the hub. I'm glad you enjoyed it. is extremely easy to use after a try or two on filling in the boxes.

    • SUSIE DUZY profile image


      8 years ago from Delray Beach, Florida

      This is quite interesting. I will same this.

    • azee raja profile image

      azee raja 

      8 years ago from pakistan

      Thanks for giving such information.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      8 years ago from Wales

      My partner is tracing his family tree so i will bookmark this one for him.

      Thank you so much for sharing this informative and very well presented hub.

      Rated up.

      Take care


    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      8 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      Hi Mentalist Acer. Thank you for stopping by to read.

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 

      8 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      My neice may find this useful,will send her a link,thanks Pamela.;)


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