The Family History Center
Family is a central focus of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. An important part of Latter-day Saint doctrine is the belief that one’s family from prior generations is just as important, and is in turn woven into, one’s present-day family. One practice related to this belief is that of making a covenant, or “special promise,” on behalf of the dead. Family members use genealogical records to first find their ancestors and deceased relatives and then recite these covenants in temples. Members offer a spiritual blessing to those relatives who have passed on, which may then be accepted by relatives in their afterlife. Eternal family presence is the driving force behind the church’s genealogical mission.
The first, and largest, Family History Library of Salt Lake City was founded in 1864 to keep track of genealogical records and offer services and assistance in tracing their own family histories to members of The Church of Latter-day Saints. The library records include, but are not limited to, over 2.4 million rolls of microfilm, 742,000 microfiche, 4,500 periodicals, and 700 electronic resources. These may be extracted from their original database in Salt Lake and sent to other Family History Centers for a small fee. There are over 200 patron computers, over 500 microfilm readers, and over 30 microfiche readers available for public use at no charge. Family History Centers are located in a number of countries, and each is a branch of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Family History Center of Richmond is located on Monument Avenue, adjacent to The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-day Saints. While The Family History Center of Richmond does not quite boast such large numbers, since it was first installed over 30 years ago it has been acquiring materials and using current technology to assist those in search of genealogical information. Among the books and resources available are books on general genealogy, state and family history books, censuses, microfilm, microfiche, and web and computer access. For those seeking a quicker and less tedious route than microfilms or microfiche, http://www.familysearch.org and http://www.ancestry.com is available. These resources are available to churchgoers and to those simply interested in tracing back family heritage. Materials may be printed, copied, and even borrowed. Among the 23 volunteer librarians on staff, several are not Latter-day Saint Church members. While not nearly as heavily patronized as the Salt Lake City Library, which serves almost 2,000 visitors a day, the Family History Center of Richmond is a busy center that serves the Richmond community’s needs. The center is open several days each week and one evening.
The Family History Center
5600 Monument Avenue
Profile prepared by Cat McCarthy