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The One Thing You Are Missing at the FamilySearch Library

I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days researching at the FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. As with any research trip, I had spent time before I left home to list the books and films I wanted to look at. But whenever I am at the FamilySearch Library there is something I do first thing when I get there that has nothing to do with that list. It’s a resource that some staff members don't even know about.

FamilySearch Library Subscription Portal

If you research at a FamilySearch Center (formerly Family History Center), you might be aware of their subscription website portal, which provides you free access to various genealogy subscription websites. You can learn more about the subscription websites available from the FamilySearch Research Wiki article: FamilySearch Center Portal.

The FamilySearch Library has a very similar portal with subscription websites not available at Centers. The problem is it can be challenging to find this collection when you are at the FamilySearch Library, which is probably why it's one of their best-kept secrets.

How to Find the Portal

Finding these subscription websites can be a challenge. These instructions will help.

From a FamilySearch Library computer, you will see a Welcome screen that looks like this:

FamilySearch Library Welcome Screen

On the Quick Links bar at the far right, click on Americas at the very bottom. You will then see the Americas Quick Links page.


Now click on the map of the United States and Canada.

Now, you will see a page that says "United States and Canada Quick Links."

This is the first page of the subscription website portal. As you can see, it includes the following websites:

  • American Ancestors
  • MyHeritage
  • Findmypast
  • Ancestry
  • Online Maps
  • Genealogy Quebec
  • GenealogyBank
  • Newspaper Archive
  • National Archives
  • Library and Archives Canada
  • Fold3

Obviously, not all of these are subscription websites, such as the National Archives. But it's a quick way to access important websites. Remember that an institutional or library website subscription differs from an individual, or personal subscription. You will not be able to access everything those websites have to offer from the library subscription.

Now, at the bottom, there is a blue button that says See Additional Websites. Click that.


You will now be at a web page titled: Additional United States and Canada Quick Links. These are more academic library subscription sites that you can access. Some of these websites are shared with BYU and the Church History Library. These websites include:

  • 19th Century US Newspapers[1]
  • Social and Cultural History (letters and diaries)
  • American: History and Life (1700 personal journals covering US and Canadian history)
  • American Civil War Letters and Diaries
  • Original Sources
  • Images of the American Civil War
  • Women and Social Movements in the US (1600-2000)
  • Oxford English Dictionary
  • Paper Trail (Overland pioneer names and documents

It is obvious why you might choose to search a genealogy subscription website for your research, but why would you use some of these more academic resources?

It depends on your research question, but for example, let's say you had a question about your ancestor's life in their location. Beyond newspapers, there may be few resources. A database with letters and diaries, especially with those from where your ancestors lived, can help you better understand what their life might have been like. Some of these databases provide historical context to understand your ancestor's time better. In the case of a friend who used these databases while we were at the Library, she found a diary for someone who emigrated at the same time and place as her ancestor and got answers about what that experience was like. Genealogy is more than just searching names and dates.

A Library is More Than Books

There’s no doubt that when I go to the FamilySearch Library I look at books but there in some cases there are genealogical gems that are hidden. Don’t forget to take advantage of what the FamilySearch Library computers offer. It’s another resource to help you better understand your ancestors lives.

[1] When I was at the library, this subscription was unavailable; however, other databases were available.


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.



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