Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Using the Family Group Records Collection

The Historical Record Collections contains an archive of millions of user submitted Family Group Records. This database consists of digitized copies of the records submitted by LDS Church members to the Genealogical Society of Utah, now the Family History Department, for processing prior to performing proxy ordinances. The completed forms were filed in the Family Group Records Archive collection in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. The online collection is called the Family Group Records Collection, Archives Section, 1942-1969. As discussed in the Research Wiki:
Whenever possible, FamilySearch makes images available for all users. However, ultimate rights to view images on our website are granted by the record custodians. The Family Group Records Collection, Archives Section collection is available only to members of the supporting organization, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
 There are currently 5,337,178 images in this collection. The forms are filed in alphabetical order by husband's surname, given name, and date of birth.

Usually, I'm very skeptical of the value of user contributed records. However, the Family Group Records Collection is an exception. These original records often contain valuable notations giving sources and details about the family which have otherwise not been preserved in subsequent transcriptions of these records. Many of the notes made on these early family group records were on the back of the records. The backs of the records are reproduced in the digitized versions of the files online.

The records contain the following information:
  • Names of husband, wife, and children
  • Dates and places of birth, christening, marriage, death, and burial
  • Parent's names
  • Husband's occupation
  • Relationships
  • Additional marriages of family members
  • LDS temple ordinance information
  • Submitter's name and address at the time of the submission
  • Family representatives
  • Sources of information
For members of the Church, referring to the original  family group records that now appear in transcribed form in the Family Tree, may give insight into the research done by the original submitters. The Research Wiki gives the following cautions for using the records:
  • Use this information as a guideline. Be aware that the information has not been verified and may have come from the submitters memory or from family records.
  • These are compiled records so each sheet may have many sources of information.
  • If you are unable to find your ancestor look for various spellings of the names.
I would add that it is highly advisable to copy the records as they appear. If you see a source citation, you should go to the original source and record the information rather than rely on the ability of the submitter to have transcribed the information from the source correctly.

The advantage of these records is that the submitters or likely one or two or more generations closer to the ancestors being reported than we are today.

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