The Mormon faith emphasizes the bonds of family. Members of the Mormon church believe relationships, especially family ties, will continue into the afterlife. Consequently, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) maintains a vast collection of records for genealogical research and offers access to this information by providing a free research tool for people of all faiths, cultures and ethnicities.
FamilySearch is considered by some to be the largest family history research organization in the world. With a history that goes back 100 years, FamilySearch began collecting genealogical records long before genealogy research became popular. The site now has nearly 5.6 billion records online. On FamilySearch, you can:
- Build or upload your family tree
- Search family trees contributed by others
- Upload photographs to the Memories gallery or look for photos of your ancestors
- Search the millions of records collected by the LDS Church
Resources on FamilySearch
The FamilySearch website provides access to several helpful resources. If you can't find what you're looking for in the LDS databases, the following resources, available from the main FamilySearch site, might help:
- The website has searchable state and federal census records for the United States as well as many other nations. You can narrow your search by the region and period you are researching.
- You can search the names in the Social Security Death Index for deaths recorded by the Social Security Administration beginning in 1962. These records provide a person's dates of birth and death and the state in which their Social Security card was issued.
- If you have ancestors from Mexico, Sweden, or many other nations as well as the United States, you may be able to find them in FamilySearch's Vital Records Index. You can search by name and life event, or click on a world map to choose a country to search.
- You may find answers to many of your questions about searching for ancestors using the FamilySearch Help Center. These articles provide information about genealogy in general, navigating specific situations, and finding records in certain locations. You can search for articles by document type, place, subject or title.
- The FamilySearch site also has a page dedicated to African American genealogy as well as a page for Jewish genealogy. Both are full of resources on where and how to locate sometimes hard-to-find information on these ancestors.
Mormon Genealogy Databases
The LDS church compiles records in three databases, all of which are searchable through the FamilySearch website.
International Genealogical Index
Millions of records make up the International Genealogical Index. Most of these records pertain to people who lived between 1500 and 1890 in Europe, Canada or the United States. LDS members contributed information for more than 430 million ancestors. Each record in the index contains one event, such as a birth, baptism (christening), marriage or death.
Pedigree Resource File
The Pedigree Resource File contains records submitted by both members and non-members of the LDS church. This growing collection of genealogies includes hundreds of millions of ancestors. Entries include names, family relationships, and dates and places of events. Some records may be duplicates since these files are never corrected or merged.
Another database called the Ancestral File (AF) contains family genealogies submitted by LDS church members before 2003. Information on about 40 million ancestors includes names, family relationships, and dates and places of events. You can access the database through the same link as the Pedigree Resource File. Then click on the AF Number tab and enter the Ancestral File number for the person you are researching. If you don't know the AF Number, just click on the Relationship tab and enter the name.
Searching LDS Records in Person
While many LDS records are available online through the FamilySearch website, some researchers enjoy viewing microfilm or microfiche versions of original records. You can visit the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, to see these documents.
The Family History Library is the world's largest genealogical library, with more than 2.4 million rolls of microfilm and 727,000 microfiche records. It also holds 356,000 books and other publications, along with many electronic genealogical resources. Admission to, and use of, the library is free.
Family History Centers
If you can't make the trip to Salt Lake City, you can search many of its resources at the 4,700 Family History Centers run by the LDS church in 134 countries. To find a Family History Center near you, use the interactive map which shows center locations worldwide. Just zoom into your geographic location or type your city and state in the search box.
At a Family History Center, you can:
- Get personalized help with your research from trained volunteers
- Order microfilm and have it shipped to your local center where you can view it on microfilm readers
- Gain free access to many premium genealogical websites and databases
- Attend how-to classes
All the services at the Family History Centers are free.
Genealogical Treasure Trove
The library and online records of the LDS can be invaluable resources when it comes to researching your family's history. Regardless of your ancestors' faith, you are likely to find information about them on Mormon genealogy sites.