Probably one of the most valuable primary sources of genealogical information today is provided by the LDS (Latter Day Saints- Mormon) Church- FamilySearch.org.
The website itself is not really the most useful aspect of their service. In truth, I personally find the online components to their site to be less valuable then that of their primary competitor- Ancestry.com.
So what is good about the site you might ask. The best part of FamilySearch is their ability to find microfiche/film within the LDS archives and make it available to you! Squirreled away in a very hard find, dark corner are two crucial search functions:
- one finds allows you enter an area or town name the ultimately informs you of the availability or unavailability of original source documents
- the second search function informs you of the location and hours of your nearest LDS Family History Center where you can order the microfilms and read them.
The way the film procurement works is really quite simple. Once you find the items are available through the LDS, I recommend you go to (visit) your nearest Family History Center; it’s best if they are open when you arrive. Enter, sign-in and tell the person in charge that you would like to order a microfilm. They will help you with the order, always confirm the film numbers. Each film costs about $5.50 in the US. After the order is placed with the LDS archives, it takes about 3-4 weeks for the film(s) to arrive. Once they arrive, the Family History staff will call you to inform you of their arrival. You may then visit your Family History Center anytime thereafter, until the film rental expires, to read your ‘documents’.
For those of you who may have some trepidation in visiting an LDS Church, I can say that my experiences have been very positive. I have never been asked to join their Church or cajoled in any way.