Visit to Salt Lake City
... to do some research at the Family History Library
In October 1999, I went to Salt Lake
City to do some research at the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ
of the Latter Days Saints. I spent a full week in the library and it was an especially fruitful
week for my genealogical research. I report my experience in this page in the hope that
it might be useful to those who are considering a trip to Salt Lake City.
The reasons why I planned a visit at the Family History Library.
- my occupation lets me only little time to spare and I cannot visit the
French or German archives as frequently as I would like. I do much work on microfilms and
by chance all the regions I am interested in have been microfilmed by members of the
Church of JC of the LDS.
- some roots of my family tree spread as far as Germany and some German microfilms
cannot be consulted in the european Family History Centers.
- Salt Lake City is located in a region of the United States that I expected to visit
one day. I planned my trip so that I could spend a week doing my research at the
Family History Library, and later tour the National Parks of Utah and Arizona.
How to prepare the visit
I made a list of all the numbers of the microfilms that I wanted to
consult, and I sent this list to the library about one month before my arrival, informing
them of my date of arrival. I put also on this list microfilms that I was not sure
to consult. For your information, reference numbers of the microfilms can be found
from the catalog that is available from the
FamilySearch web site.
Visit within a group or individual visit? Personaly I chose to organize
this travel on my own. An individual trip may be more expensive than a visit with a group
(it has to be verified) but I found it was preferable in order to avoid some problems.
For example, you might find some difficulties in sharing microfilms if you stay at
the library with a group that works on the same regions than you do. When you travel on your own
a good knowledge of the English language will be useful, even if it is not absolutely
Salt Lake City is a city where you can easily find your way about.The
library is located downtown, 35 West Temple Street. I decided to stay at the
Travelodge motel just a block and less than a five minutes walk away from the library.
The hotel will cost you between 60 and 100 dollars per day if you want to stay near
the library. You can find some less expensive rooms if you accept to stay further, but
you will have to come by car to the library and the parking lots are not very cheap.
At the library
Visitors are welcome and working conditions are perfect. There is an
impressive number of microfilm readers, and all the collection of microfilms is
stored in filing cabinets in the furthermost part of the room.
The library has four levels of its premises. The rooms for the
United States and Canada are located at the first floor (books) and at the second
floor (microfilms); the British Isles are located at the second basement level and
the rest of the world at the first basement level.
You can find all the services you need at le library. IBM compatible
computers are freely put at your disposal, copy machines and a post stamps machine,
cafeteria, and you can buy pens or envelopes. The library staff at the information
desk can answer your questions or even make a translation for you.
Many printed books are also available. For France and Germany,
the full collection takes several meters of bookshelves.
As an example, here follows my daily agenda at the library :
- 7:00 a.m. : breakfast
- 7:30 a.m. : I arrive at the library and I begin my research
- 11:45 a.m. : I get out for a break and to have a drink
- 0:30 p.m. : I come back to the library and I continue my research
- 6:30 p.m. : I leave the library and I go back to the motel
- 6:40-7:00 p.m. : I evaluate the results of my research of the day and I prepare my research for the next day.
Opening hours of the library
- 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. on Monday
- 7:30 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday
Caution, the library is closed on the following days:
New Year's Day, July 4th and 24th, Thanksgiving Day (4th Thursday of November), Christmas Day (December 25th)
What about the outside world?
No doubt is possible, Salt Lake City is really the city of the Church of JC of the LDS.
In this city, many opportunities are offered to discover and to improve your knowledge
of this religion, of its history and of the genealogical works of its members.
Temple Square and the "Tabernacle" are right in front of the library
across West Temple Street. At the "Tabernacle", you can attend
the rehearsals and the choir concerts of the Church, or organ concerts. These concerts
of high quality deserve your audience.
The Museum is facing the library on the same place. It is open from 9:00 a.m. to
9:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday and from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
You can learn much about the history of the Mormon religion when visiting this museum.
Standing two blocks from the Museum, there is the Joseph Smith
Memorial Building, where you can see the film "Legacy" which recounts
the history of the Mormons from its origins.
After some hours of genealogical research and of visits,
you will probably want to find a place for your dinner. There are many good restaurants
in Salt Lake City, and their prices are very moderate, but you have to remember that
alcoholic drinks are prohibited almost everywhere in Utah.
Night revellers will soon discover that Salt Lake City is really a very quiet city.
Enjoy your trip and good luck with your research !