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

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

What is the purpose of the Family Discover Centers?

Note: Please read the comments to this post for some of the answers to the questions posed. 

I received the following comment from a reader to a previous post.
What is the purpose of the FDCs? Is it thought that the novel visual displays will invite more than one visit by one person?
The FDC in the comment refers to Family Discovery Centers. I have to admit, I have struggled with this question myself. It seems apparent to me that the Family Discover Centers are intended to be an introduction to the concepts of family history and engage the participants in family history oriented activities that are novel and non-threatening. What I see that is missing is the connection between the activities in the Family Discovery Center and further involvement in family history, particularly in becoming involved in the process of adding names to the Family Tree.

I have yet to see any statistics that tie a visit, or as the commentator points out, visits to a Family Discovery Center with an increase in family history activity. I certainly agree that the displays and the technology involved are impressive and entertaining. But do they accomplish the task of actually getting people interested in pursuing more information about their family? These are the types of questions I haven't seen addressed.

Of course, my opinion can be dismissed because I am a "traditional" genealogist and our entire approach to "family history" is negative and puts people off of wanting to do family history. But I would point out that personally I happen to be at the very cutting edge of the technology. I use a combination of mobile devices, iPads, iPhones, and all the rest of the most advanced technology available to push my research ahead as fast and as efficiently as possible. I also deal with whole, large classes of young adults and teenagers and successfully teach them how to find family names. I am just wondering what place the Family Discovery Centers have in this process?

I do understand that the Family Discovery Center concept is being adapted as an introduction at smaller Family History Centers and mobile applications are also being considered. Perhaps this is way to begin involvement by those who would otherwise not have an interest. But as yet there needs to be a path or connection directly from the Family Discovery Center experience to some way the people can learn how to find their ancestors.  Just some thoughts. I am certainly not negative about the existing centers but I do think it would be a good idea to articulate how the Family Discovery Centers fit into the overall process of Find, Take and Teach.


  1. I've been at least 5 times to the Family Discovery Center in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building; taking different groups of people with me each time. My children LOVE to go the Family Discovery Center. They love the interactive displays and games, etc that are all about families and about them.

    After taking one group, I had feedback that the teens in the group were so excited that they wanted their own FamilySearch accounts (they had been using their parent's accounts for the visit). And as a ward consultant I have helped them set up their own accounts. And it has increased family history in their own families between the parents and the children.

    Some of the seasoned adults in the group found some issues with the data in the maps display. This prompted them to look into the data when they got home and some found errors and others found out more information about their families that they didn't have before.

    My own mother was excited to utilize the displays and look at the information and did want want to be rushed. This was part of a turning point for her to be more involved with family history. Something I have been wanting her to do my entire life.

    I believe there are many applications to the Family Discovery Center. Each person will have their own story and their own discovery and will start to take their own actions with family history. I have seen it with the 60+ people that I have taken there so far.

    So excited for the Layton center to open in November so that I can influence more local visits. Our ward youth will love it!

    1. Thank you so much for your wonderful feedback. Many of us do not have an opportunity to go to a Family Discovery Center more than once, if that. Perhaps there are others who can share such positive experiences?