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From Myrt - Daily Genealogy Columnist - America Online Keyword: dearmyrtle

Among of the greatest tools available to genealogists is a growing collection of research and resource outlines developed by specialists at the LDS Family History Library (FHL).

Taking the RESEARCH OUTLINE: United States as an example, there is much essential, valuable information presented. For the mere cost of printing, you'll find 52 pages of some of the FHL librarians' best thinking on the subject of US family history research. In addition to a map for tracing the migrations of your ancestors, you'll find research strategies, a records selection table ( that lists records to look for when trying to determine age, maiden name, etc.; listings of other libraries with genealogy departments; and brief descriptions of various record types (so you'll know what to expect). Make note of the variety of topics included in the research outline for the United States:

RECORDS AT THE FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY: microform, printed records
ARCHIVES & LIBRARIES: state, county & town courthouses, federal repositories, inventories, registers, catalogs
CEMETERIES: sexton records, indexes, locating, funeral home records
CENSUS: federal, indexes, enumeration boundaries, special federal census, colonial, state & local census
CHURCH RECORDS: History of American churches, finding church records, various denomination main central addresses, etc.
COURT RECORDS: federal, state & local, types of court records, locating, adoption records.
EMIGRATION & IMMIGRATION: Pre 1820, 1820-1880, 1880-1920, finding country & county of origin, passenger arrival records, ship arrival records, Canadian border crossings 1895-1924, passports, emigration records of Europe.
GAZETTEERS: modern & historical place names.
LAND & PROPERTY: government land grants, colonial land grants, public domain, land companies, county & town records, deeds & mortgage books.
MILITARY RECORDS: Local, state federal forces, types of military records.
NATIVE RACES: Bureau of Indian Affairs records
NATURALIZATION & CITIZENSHIP: Collective & derivative citizenship. Pre-1906, post-1906 first, second & final papers.
PROBATE RECORDS: Probate process.
SOCIETIES: Historical, genealogical, lineage & hereditary societies.
VITAL RECORDS: General historical background, regional differences. Birth, marriage records, divorce, death records.

The topics listed in the research outlines are in the same format as the Family History Library Catalog (FHLC), making it easier to find the source of a reference in the outline. Here's how I recommend using these guides:

1. First find out about a source in the research outline. For instance, there is a discussion of maps and land records, which covers nearly six pages in the Research Outline: United States. Brief explanations concern topics such as land grants, public domain, donation lands, homestead grants, railroad grants, military bounty lands, private land claims, deeds, patents, tract books, federal plats, state-land states, land companies, deed and mortgage books, town records, Bureau of Land Management, land ownership maps, plat books, etc.

2. Consult the FHLC in either microfiche or CD-ROM format at the LDS Family History Library, to locate a book, microfilm or microfiche of records, which would hopefully mention your ancestors. Those researchers unable to visit Salt Lake City may avail themselves of the facilities at a local FHC, where most FHL microfilm and microfiche may be ordered on loan to the local center.

3. Order the microfilm, microfiche. Books are not circulated but may be viewed on your next visit to Salt Lake City.

4. Review and copy the family information from the microfilm, microfiche or book.

5. File the information with other documents collected on each ancestor.

6. Repeat this process for the next record type.

Readers will note that the United States research outline is followed by individual state outlines, which augment but do not duplicate the information in the general US instructions.

United States Research Outline
Individual state research outlines
US Military Records Research Outline
Individual States Research Outlines
Using the FHLC Instructional Guide
Guide to Research Instructional Guide
Tracing Immigrant Origins Guide
There are also research outlines for Canada (and individual provinces), England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, France, and most other major countries of the world.

The following resource guides are offered free of charge:
Using Ancestral File
Contributing to Ancestral File
Correcting Ancestral File
FHL Catalog on Compact Disc
FHL Catalog on Microfiche
How to Fill Out a Family Group Record
Where Do I Start?
IGI Compact Disc User's Guide
IGI on Microfiche
Finding an IGI Source
Military Index
Social Security Death Index
Parish and Vital Records List
PAF (Personal Ancestral File) Brochure
AIS Census Indexes Resource Guide
This past spring, a CD-ROM including all currently available research and resource outlines was unveiled as The Family History SourceGuide. Originally offered at $20 it was a steal. A recent price reduction to $10 makes this CD-ROM a real bargain! Imagine being able to search by a word or phrase through every research outline to find the answers about "where to look" for records containing references to your ancestors!

When meeting beginning researchers, as well as those who are new to using a local Family History Center (FHC), those who volunteer at our center are quick to recommend the paper versions of the US and other related research outlines. The printing cost of seventy-five cents isn't a big financial commitment, but it gets the researcher off to the right start!

Myrt : )

Research Outline: United States
LDS Family History Library
c. 1988 Corporation of the President of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
50 East North Temple Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 94150
1-800-537-5950 US or Canada
801-240-1174 elsewhere.

For Further Reading:
DearMYRTLE's Using LDS Family History Centers

DearMYRTLE is a daily genealogy column (KEYWORD: dearmyrtle) published on America Online in the Genealogy Forum. (KEYWORD: roots) DearMYRTLE is happy to receive your mail inquiries, but regrets she is unable to answer each personally. Representative samples are included in her columns from time to time. Contact her via E-Mail:

The LDS librarians (as opposed to non-member librarians who are almost always experienced genealogists) are apt to be people the local church leaders have asked to work in the library in order to learn how to do genealogy. They do want to be helpful and they have keys to let you in. They are eager to learn, but are at different stages in that process. On the other hand many have a great deal of experience. Nevertheless, each of us has our own areas of expertise. Ask lots of questions. The librarians need to know to help people.

FHCs have three kinds of things:
1. Reference materials: hard copies and microfilm. The book collection varies from one FHC to the other. But each should have certain basic materials. On paper there are Resource Outlines for each state and province of Canada and several countries and special subjects. These cost a small amount. Good for reference. Browse the shelves. Every FHC has a collection of 200 basic reference works on microfiche. Ask the librarian where the directory to this is. Browse through the microfiche collection. Every time someone orders fiche it stays in the Center forever.

2. The Family History Library Catalog (FHLC). The FHLC is the catalog of what is in the Salt Lake Library. You can order microfilm and fiche (but not books) and use them in the FHC. Browse the FHLC. See if you can find the resource outline about how to use it. The headings in the state Resource Outlines are the same headings that are used in the FHLC. You can search it by author/title, the quickest way to find a specific book. Or you can search it by locality. At the beginning of each country or state there is a list of places for which they have material. It's an easy way to find out what political jurisdiction a town or city falls under. Or you can search the surname section for material about a specific family. This is a great index to "hidden genealogies," things on one surname buried in a genealogy of a different family. Or you can search by subject. The catalog is also on the FamilySearch computer, but it works a little differently. You cannot search by author or title, but you can enter a film number and identify it.

3. Databases on the FamilySearch computer and also on microfiche. The databases on the computer are the IGI, Ancestral File, the Social Security death index, Scottish Parish Registers (OPR) and Korean and Vietnam War deaths, as well as the catalog. Read the instruction manual and/or get copies of instructions to take home. The databases on fiche are census indexes 1790-1850, Scottish Old-Parochial Records and some others. See if the FHC has a copy of a huge book called THE LIBRARY.

Here are main points regarding how to make the best use of one's time at FHC:
1)You can download from LDS site research guides for localities you are interested in.
2)You can buy guides at reasonable cost at LDS FHCs.
3)Check them over and get an idea of what kinds of material is available.
4)You can download CD material at FHCs using your own disks. Remember, the sources used by someone submitting their data to the FHC isn't always clear and may not be verified.
5)Call FHC before hand to reserve computer time.

Things to download:
1. Information from FH Library Catalog--locality guide and surname index for most important current research.
2. Information from IGI regarding people with particular surname -- wise to use filter regarding localities or you might get too much to handle--helps as guide, don't take as gospel.
3. Contributions to Ancestral File of your ancestors--helps as guide, don't take as gospel.

Order films for further research--remember to check whether index is on separate film. If so order it too!

The International Genealogical Index (IGI) is just that, an index, a finding tool. However, it is not like an index in a book. In order to make good use of it, you must make some effort to understand how it is put together.

It is primarily an index to temple work for individuals, which explains why there are often multiple entries for the same person. Names are often submitted for temple work to be done without having first found out whether it has been done before. There are various reasons why this has been very difficult to do in the past. The new IGI addendum goes a long way toward making it easier than ever before.

There seems to be a general recognition that there are two main kinds of entries in the IGI, those submitted by individuals and those extracted directly from original records. We tend to trust the latter entries, and it is relatively easy to check out the original source. If using the IGI on microfiche, these extracted entries usually have a batch number beginning with C or M or occasionally another letter, but some begin with numbers. The CD-ROM edition gives pretty complete information for each entry. But if you're using the IGI on fiche there is no substitute for reading detailed instructional material about this.

Basically discussed here are the individual entries, as these are the ones that give people the most trouble. In order to evaluate the entry, you need to get hold of the material "behind" it, i.e., the piece of paper submitted by the person to initiate the temple work. And what you most need from that is the source(s) used by the submitter. Submission has been done differently at different times. The four eras are:
1. Pre-1942
3. 1969-ca. 1990
2. 1942-1969
4. 1990 to the present

When you find an entry, look at the dates of temple work to identify which era the entry falls under (b =3D baptism; e =3D endowment, s =3D sealing to spouse or parents). Sometimes there will be a combination.

1. Before 1942 the resources referenced in the IGI are the temple books, the chronological records kept by the temples of the work done each day. These are on the films indicated on the IGI microfiche when there is a number in the batch number column and the word "film" in the sheet number column. Many of these films can be ordered at Family History Centers (FHCs), but check the fiche listing restricted films. If they cannot be ordered, they may still be in the open cabinets in the reading room in Salt Lake. You will need to find an agent to look if you can't go yourself. A few are in what is called the Special Collections room. (Ask at the FHC what this means).

What is more useful is the index to these early records. The Temple Index Bureau (TIB) is a series of index cards, now on microfilm, which often give additional information. These too are in Special Collections, but you can access them by using a Temple Ordinance Index Request (TOIR) form which should be available at an FHC. They are free from the Church Distribution Center. If you send in a TOIR (cost $1 for each search) and they find an index card, they may also find a family group sheet from the next era for you.

2. In 1942 individuals began sending in family group sheets. These too are indexed in the TIB and can be accessed by using TOIRs. Or you can look at these on microfilm. There are several other series of family group sheets, so look in the subject section of the FHLC (Family History Library Catalog) under "Mormons - Genealogy - Sources" and roam around until you find a series beginning with film #127. The sheets are arranged strictly alphabetically by the head of the household (sometimes an unmarried woman) and then by birth date of people with the same name. Many FHCs like to get these on indefinite loan to build the collection.

Besides getting more data on the family and an individual's outdated name and address, THE IMPORTANT PIECE OF INFORMATION ON THESE IS THE SOURCE OF INFORMATION. Hopefully you will be able to interpret it and go to a book you would never have dreamed of looking at for information on your family, i.e., the index (IGI) has worked! Note: this is the main point of this little dissertation. If you cannot interpret the source, play with the FHLC first if you have a clue to author or title. Then call the Family History Library (801-240- 2584) and ask for the first floor library attendants' window. They can convert old call numbers to new. They will be appreciative if many of you do it.

3. The IGI began in 1969. At the same time submitters began using new forms, called Individual Entry and Marriage Entry Forms. Sometimes family group sheets were still used. (These were assigned batch numbers beginning with F, 50 or 60). The value of seeing these is not only the source. The submitter's address may still be current and there may be additional information. But WHAT YOU MOST WANT IS THE SOURCE! You get copies of these entry forms in either of two ways:
a. When received, they were assigned a batch number, with 99 sheets in a batch. (The first two digits of batch numbers beginning with 7 and 8 tell you the year they were submitted.) Then they were filmed. You can order the microfilm of them (about $3 apiece). If using the IGI on fiche you need to find out the film number (also called "Input Source") by using another set of fiche, the "Batch Number Index."

b. Or you can use the photo duplication form to get copies of 8 forms for $2. (Again, read the small print. Some batch numbers with the 4th, 5th and 6th digits higher than 365 refer to extractions from New England vital records. The films can be tricky to use. On the other hand, one film might have a great many useful entry forms on it. If you find a group of people with the same batch number, try it.

4. About 1990 FHC began using a new type of family group sheet (8 =BD x 11 instead of 8 =BD x 14). These are available by the same method as above. About the same time, the church began using TempleReady to process submissions on disk. While this has been extremely useful in many ways, no longer are names and addresses and sources available. We are referred to the Ancestral File. This situation may eventually change, but for the present, we cannot get "behind" the IGI on these entries.

For many years there has been a project to extract the old pre-1970 records and add them to the IGI. Most of the pre-1942 baptismal records are in the 1993 CD-ROM edition. Many of the 1942-69 records are in the new Addendum.

One final hint, if you find a submitter listed on an old family group sheet, try looking for them in the Ancestral File. Then look for the submitter's name and address. You may find the current family historian.

Tips for Using LDS Disks:
1) Use them only as an outline.
2) Act as a roadmap to lead to location of documentation.
3) Older ones were typed - there's room for error.
4) They're only as correct as the person who sent them in.
5) Person who submitted info - F9 key gets you to submitters.
6) Submitter's address included; code next to the name =3D date of submission.
7) Write to submitters for documentation, if the date is recent.
8) Before 1982 submission was a one shot thing; i.e. no further info.
9) Church encouraged recent submissions; current info more likely to be supported.
10) Index part: Before you enter pedigrees - hit ENTER, you get the green screen tells you more about the person. At first glance, your ancestors may not seem to be in program.
11) They may be hidden; Check extra spouses, etc.
12) Remember to check a 20 year span of when you "know" they were born. Submission date may have been a guess by submitter (20-20 RULE).
13) If you don't find support for an ancestor, double check data.

Check out what is available at the FHC at:

Please note that the LDS has issued a Research CD-ROM disk with their research guides. It is reasonably priced and available from 1-800-537-5950 in the USA. You can also find the address for FHC at LDS in your state and in other countries at:

Go back to the index page