Finding Links in the Chain


From Aagard to Zykstra, your family name is probably among those on record at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. After all, the library has in its records the names of more than 3 billion deceased people, the largest collection of its kind in the world. And more than 36 million of those people are linked into families.

Each morning, patrons line up at the front doors of the library on the west side of Temple Square before its 8:00 A.M. opening, eager to get to work. They might claim a spot at one of the center’s 160 computers or one of its more than 700 microfilm and microfiche readers. Or perhaps they will browse through some of its thousands of genealogical reference sources.

They might have access to many of these same resources closer to home. There are 3,960 local family history centers in 92 countries around the world, and some 100,000 rolls of microfilm are circulated to these centers each month for use by local patrons. Still, a strong attraction draws family history researchers to the library in Salt Lake City, where so many resources can be found in one spot. The library is known worldwide. Family history research organizations from as far away as France and New Zealand plan annual trips to Salt Lake City for their members.

The library serves some 2,000 patrons each day. In the four floors open to the public (a fifth floor is used by the staff), visitors find records from the United States, Canada, the British Isles, Europe, Latin America, Asia, Australia, and Africa. The library’s collection includes more than 2.3 million rolls of microfilmed records; 742,000 microfiche; 300,000 books, serials, or other publication formats; and 4,500 periodicals. Currently, microfilmers are filming records in 45 countries. The library’s resources increase by an average of more than 4,000 rolls of film and 700 books a month.

As visitors stream through the front doors each day, some may stop to contemplate the mural in the lobby depicting men and women from every age in history coming unto Christ through the gathering of family history records.

And perhaps as they pore over lists of names on a computer or search through microfilmed records, some patrons stop to reflect that what they are doing was foretold by an ancient prophet. The mission of Elijah includes a key role in uniting the great eternal family of our Heavenly Father. Elijah reiterated prophecy about the linking of families 167 years ago when, under the direction of Jesus Christ, he appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple to restore the keys of this great work.

“Behold, the time has fully come,” Elijah said, “which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi … to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers” (D&C 110:14–15; see also Mal. 4:5–6). To that end the great resources gathered in the Family History Library await those moved to assist in the work.

[photos] Right: The Family History Library in Salt Lake City serves some 2,000 patrons each day who come to search out ancestors. (Photograph by Matthew Reier.) Above right: Employee Marcie Mock checks a map from the library’s extensive collection. (Photograph by Don Searle.)

[photos] Above: There is heavy demand for the computer terminals that allow patrons to access a wide variety of resources. Right: A library patron pinpoints information on a microfilm. (Photography by Don Searle.)

[photos] Left: A book is sewn back together as part of the rebinding process in the library’s conservation laboratory. Center left: Nancy Petersen films a book from among the Family History Library’s collection. (Photography by Don Searle.)

[photos] Right: Missionary Lonnie Yates from Gilmer, Texas, works on a microfilm reader in the library’s repair area. (Photograph by Don Searle.) Below: A missionary assists a visitor in the FamilySearch™ Center, an extension of the Family History Library located in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building across Temple Square. (Photograph by Robert Casey.)