I just arrived home from a full week of research at the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City, by far the largest facility of its kind in the world. Although some of their holdings are becoming available online, and microfilms can be borrowed for a fee for viewing at any local LDS center, to be under one roof with the whole collection is quite a thrill. The centerpiece of the library consists of of over 2.5 million microfilms, filmed, collected, and indexed by Mormon missionaries all over the world. The US/Canada portion alone takes up a whole floor, arranged in about a dozen long aisles like this one:
On each of the five floors are several dozen computer terminals, long rows of microfilm viewers, and state-of-the-art scanners, copiers, and printers for media of all types.
Of course, in addition to the films, there over 300,000 books, some not available to the public anywhere else, and free access to a dozen “premium” genealogy websites which are otherwise pay-to-play. Best of all was the presence of a large and very helpful force of volunteers and paid staff, eager to assist at any time. To top it all off, everything (except photocopies) is totally free of charge; not only that, but patrons are given a pass to the cafeteria in the LDS main office building, itself a 28-story skyscraper. The lunch room is otherwise only available to the thousands of LDS church employees in its massive office tower and throughout Temple Square and the city as a whole.
Concentrating on research, I only squeezed in a little bit of sightseeing, mainly in the immediate vicinity. The temple itself is very spectacular, day or night.
Another free attraction is the weekly rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
While I was disappointed not to blast through any of my genealogical “brick walls,” I still consider the trip a success, thanks to a few key documents that reinforced evidence I had already collected, and provided some tantalizing clues for further research. I will explore some of these documents in the next several posts (and no, there will not be a six-week wait for the next one).