Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Ordering Microfilm from the Family Search Web Site

As we learned last week, the Church of Latter Day Saints has been microfilming & digitizing records from around the world for a very long time. We've seen how a basic search on the Family Search Web site reveals the indexed records and we've learned how to access the unindexed records.

This week we are going to learn about the records that have been microfilmed but not digitized. They can be ordered from the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City, Utah.

From the FamilySearch website, put your cursor over the "Search" option on the options across the top.

Choose "Catalog" from the drop down menu.

This is what the catalog search page looks like:

You can search by Place, Surnames, Titles, Author, Subjects and Keywords.  You can combine your searches. Example: I searched MASON surname and WEST VIRGINIA keyword. It narrowed the search results from 660 (MASON surname search only) to 41 entries for the combined search.

Below that you can search for an item by Call Number or Film/Fiche Number. The Surname search alone is more helpful if you have an uncommon surname. 

The Family History Library catalog includes books as well as microfilm. You cannot order the books, unless they have been microfilmed. Then you can order the microfilm of the book. You can search by book title, author or subject. If the book has been digitized, it will provide a link to the digitized copy. The site also provides a link to the WorldCat catalog so that you can see which libraries own the item.

We are going to explore the Place search in more detail. Don't include words like "county", "state" or "country". Type in the name of the locality. Example: Marion County, Ohio:

As soon as you type in Marion, a drop-down menu appears so you can select the exact location you want.

 Once you select your location, you will see a subject list of all the items the FHL has for that location. Many of the records have separate indexes:

Once you select the subject area you are interested in, you'll see an expanded view of the topic:

Curious about what it contained, I selected the Pensions subject line.
I have never seen this kind of record.

Click on the title of the record to see more information:

This looks like it is pension records for mothers who lost a son in World War I.
Notice the little film reel icon on the bottom right?  When you click on that you are taken to the ordering page.

The Short term Loan costs $7.50 per reel and you would have access to the film for 90 days. The extended loan is for an indefinite period of time - basically until someone else wants the film. If you haven't already registered at the FamilySearch web site, you will want to now! 

You will have to designate which FHL you want the film to be sent to. I can HIGHLY recommend the Medina County District Library. We have been an Affiliate Family History Center Library since October of 2014. We are open 65 hours a week and have two fabulous new microfilm machines and two middling-old machines! 

You will also have to choose your payment option: PayPal or credit card.

The FHL will keep you updated on the status of your order:
  • When the order has been received
  • When the order has been shipped, or back ordered.
  • When it has arrived at the library.
When the film arrives at the Medina Library, it is checked in and labeled with your name. It waits for you in a microfilm drawer in the Franklin Sylvester Room until it is time for it to be returned to the FHL in Salt Lake City.

It is definitely cheaper than traveling to distant locations. I used FHL films for Northamptonshire, England to find the marriage record of my 4X great grandparents, James Tagg and Rebecca Heighton in 1814, a full four years before other researchers had estimated for them!

Try it out! If you have any questions, see me or Lisa Rienerth at the Medina Reference Desk.

Next week, Lisa will be the guest blogger!

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