Where to go to Find Genealogical Information
When you are just starting out looking for your roots, you must feel overwhelmed. Where do I go? What resources are available? What do I look for? Has anyone else already found some of the information I am looking for?
Perhaps your first impulse is to start buying all the CDs you hear about that store millions of names. If you're lucky, after spending hundreds of dollars, you just may find a few names. And then again, you may not.
Did you know that the largest collection of genealogical information in the world is available for free? And most people in the free world live within just a few miles of a center that can provide access to this wealth of free information and free advise on how to proceed!
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the "Mormon" church) is well-known throughout the world for having archived records from around the world. Copies of these records are stored in granite vaults deep in the mountains just south-east of Salt Lake City, Utah. The Church maintains hundreds of Family History Centers throughout the world, which have copies of many of these records, and the ability to borrow many or most of the others. These centers are staffed by volunteers who are anxious and willing to help you utilize these resources to compile your family history.
In addition to the archived records, the Church has encouraged people who have compiled their genealogies to submit them to their "Ancestral File" -- the largest computerized database of genealogically linked databases in the world. This data -- the result of the effort of thousands of genealogists -- is also available for free at the Family History Centers. Most of the data you can buy on commercial CDs has come from this free source.
As people come to realize the resources available at these centers, they find that they can be more efficient and cost-effective in their search for their family history by buying a less expensive, stand-alone program, such as Ancestral Quest, and utilizing the free resources available, rather than buying expensive programs that include commercial CDs with only a small portion of the information available at the Family History Centers.
We have taken an old list of Family History Centers (FHC) from a site on the Internet, and started maintaining it to keep it up to date as new Centers are added, or as Centers move. We encourage you to use this list, and send us email if you notice any errors or omissions, to help us maintain an accurate list.