Co-author Teresa Tiefenbach, Family History Centre Director, Regina Stake
As we travel and meet people, we occasionally hear people questioning the need for Family History Centres (FHCs). We hear question such as: “Isn’t everything on the Internet?” “Now films are being digitized and indexed . .” “Do we need more than nFS?”
To answer these questions, we must understand the purpose of FHCs.
According to the Administration Guide for Family History, “family history centers are a valuable resource for family history consultants in helping members identify their ancestors and provide temple ordinances for them. Family history centers give members and community patrons access to family history resources, such as FamilySearch™ and the Church’s circulating collection of microfilmed genealogical records. Centers can train members and consultants in how to use family history resources” (p. 3).
The Church Handbook of Instructions further explains that “family history centers are effective to the extent that (1) all patrons are made to feel welcome to use the resources of the center, (2) members are providing temple ordinances for their ancestors, (3) nonmember patrons have opportunities to learn why members do family history work, and (4) both members and nonmembers are contributing their family-linked records to the Church” (Bk. 2, Sect 9, p. 267).
We feel strongly about this! FHCs continue to fulfill their purpose, as outlined in the Administration Guide for Family History, and they continue to be effective in meeting the needs of members, as well as community patrons. Below is a list of some of the reasons why FHCs are still needed:
- More and more resources are available on the Internet, but not everything is on the Internet and isn’t going to be for a long, long time (if ever) – see article on this site (1 Aug 2010 – “Internet is a Resource). The basic tools for quality research are just not there yet.
- Church microfilms might be scanned in a decade or so, but at the present rate of indexing, the indexing will not be complete for a long time – perhaps many generations of time if we don’t increase our pace!
- . . . . and this is most important . . . . we still need to do Research – and quality research, so that we know our ancestors and so we can find all that we can about them. This is much easier to do than it used to be, but it still takes time, effort, and skill.
- Microfilms and microfiche are only available at a Family History Centre. Many people rely on microfilms to do their research. These people do not want to wait for a decade or more to have access to the records of their ancestors.
- Many members cannot submit names of ancestors for temple ordinances without using microfilms at FHCs.
- FHCs give us free access to online resources which we have to pay to access from home (see Bill Buchanan’s list published 26 Sep 2010)
- FHCs are a great place for individual Help, having more resources available than individual homes.
- FHCs can be used as training centres where we can take classes.
- FHCs can be used to train ward family history consultants about the resources available for family history, thus helping them meet the needs of the members they help.
- FHCs are a great place to meet and work with others. FHCs serve as a place to build communities or networks of people doing research in the same areas. Many people have had long awaited “breakthroughs” as a result of overhearing another patron’s conversation.
- FHCs have computers and high speed internet – not everyone has that at home.
- FH consultants need a place to bring members so they can learn to do research, especially in circumstances where meeting in the member’s home is not feasible (e.g., a male ward/branch consultant meeting with a single sister).
- FHCs are valuable in raising the profile of the Church in the community.
- FHCs teach people why members of the Church do family history.
- Through exposure to FHCs, community members can be encouraged to contribute their family-linked information to Church databases, making more records available to others who may be related to them and who may be members.
We feel strongly about this! We still need our FH Centres!