Search for content in message boards

FHCs Seem to be Abandoned

FHCs Seem to be Abandoned

Posted: 1347378942000
Classification: Query
I have visited several Family History Centers in the past couple years. In every case, the equipment for viewing microfilm is quite old and the ways to get copies of images is very limited. Printing viewers, when present, are on the verge of breakdown and there don't seem to be any modern digital readers that allow directing an image to a computer to print the image or store it as a jpeg to a USB thumbdrive. It's like the Church is abandoning these remote centers.

Last week I offered to contribute a third of the cost toward a digital reader at our local branch and was met with a dismissive "I don't think we're interested in that" with no explanation. I'm going to try a slightly larger center about an hour away but I really expect the same attitude.

Are others seeing this same phenomena?

Re: FHCs Seem to be Abandoned

Posted: 1347606822000
Classification: Query
Hello Mr. Frtize,

I agree - the equipment here (I'm outside the US) is old and the microfilm printer does not work well at all - the print outs are barely legible. I enquired whether a new microfilm printer would be purchased at my FHC as it is well over 20 years old, Canon no longer service it and spare parts are not available. I was told that a new microfilm printer would cost $20,000!

I investigated the cost of purchasing a scanner and donating it to the FHC for everyone to use (like you, I would like the microfilms electronically or at least have a good image to print from and this would be a much more economical option for the FHC and its patrons). These microfilm scanners are also very expensive - up to $10,000 in some cases.

I asked about having the microfilms digitised and was told the best way to help is to assist with their indexing project - See: - as this will assist them to put the films (thousands of them!) online for everyone to access easily.

The LDS are doing this as a community service. The people in the FHC are all volunteers who give their time. The microfilms are sent internationally at cost. As far as I'm aware, they don't make money from their FHC or genealogy services, so it's understandable that the regional FHCs might not have the latest technology as their budget is limited.

I wonder if there is some kind of fund we could contribute to or whether there are other options that don't require each FHC having to purchase expensive technology until all their films are digitised and indexed?

Any ideas?

With warm regards,

Re: FHCs Seem to be Abandoned

Posted: 1347626449000
Classification: Query
For me, the old records are from Germany. Yes, they are indexed but without images. Without images the statement that we can help by volunteering to index rings very hollow.

Finding the person by name and date of birth gets me a film number. Then I can order the film and I can view it only if equipment is available for doing so. Even if I can see it, without being able to produce and save an image, I can't refer to it later. It's all very frustrating.

Thanks, though, for letting me know I'm not alone and the situation is real. Thing is, I'm not sure a local FHC would even accept a donation whether in kind or cash.


Re: FHCs Seem to be Abandoned

Posted: 1347629663000
Classification: Query
I share your frustration with that too - I am also researching German relatives from a small town in the former East Prussia. Absolutely none of these records have been digitised or indexed and I need to order each film individually based on town and year and scroll through the whole microfilm hoping to find information (thankfully I've been lucky, but wow it's time consuming!) Taking a photo of the image on the old microfilm reader really doesn't work well!

I'm told the LDS plan to digitise all of the films but there are thousands and it will take years. I guess they prioritise based on demand - hence why so many US and UK records are available online. I'm not sure how much demand there is for a little town in former areas of Germany.

It would be great if the FHC could have a service whereby you pay them to digitise the film you want. At the National Archives they do that - you pay them to release and scan your ancestors' files (e.g. Immigration records). That way they make money to continue their service but the documents are released on an "on demand" basis.

Good luck with your search!

Re: FHCs Seem to be Abandoned

Posted: 1347818962000
Classification: Query
Man, I was hoping it would only be my local FHC (Santa Rosa, CA) that had outdated equipment. It was not only slow to scan and to put the scan on my USB stick but I had to do one half of a page at a time (the record books go across the full open pages of the book and doing half at a time makes it impossible to read later). Also the scans weren't that good. To add insult to injury, they charged the same amount for the scans as for paper printouts (25 cents/page, though at least I convinced them to charge me half price because of the above issue). None of this is a big deal when you need a couple of pages, but I was getting most of an entire film (at first because I realized I was related to everyone in it but then for a JewishGen transcription project).

I finally gave up and a volunteer got me the scans from SLC. A couple weeks ago, I found myself in SLC visiting a friend and had the joy of 2 whole mornings in the genealogical center. Amazing. Everything is completely free (they do charge for prints) and the machines are very fast. Plus there are a lot of them so you don't get kicked off when someone else wants a turn. Of course I could do the entire double page with them too. My two mornings (about 9 hours total) got me one 1000+ scan roll, 200+ scans from another roll, and an entire rare book (hundreds of pages) photographed with my camera. At my local center, 9 hours would have gotten me about 450 scans and nothing else (corresponding to 225 pages), and would have cost me over $50 (including the film rental).

I don't mind donating some funds to this amazing body of work. I do appreciate the equipment, infrastructure, and time put in to this. But I would rather find the best resources I can.

Anyone here in the San Francisco Bay Area? Where can I find the best equipment and most reasonable costs for scans (no printing needed)? I'm willing to drive an hour to San Francisco or Oakland. Easier than driving 12 hours to Salt Lake City. :-)


Re: FHCs Seem to be Abandoned

Posted: 1348165126000
Classification: Query
I like the idea of starting a fund but I don't know how to go about that. It would be nice if there were some way for the FHL to take the lead.

I contacted FamilySearch and this was their reply--

"Thank you for contacting FamilySearch regarding the problem of images found on microfilm that cannot be enhanced by equipment at your local Family History Center.

You asked if there is a way to get a digital image short of traveling to Utah and visiting the Family History Library. We have attached a document which explains how you may request a photocopy of records, books, microfilm, microfiche, CDs, or IGI and Sources (alias Photoduplication). At the FHL in Salt Lake, there is equipment which can make the best photocopy of the record currently possible.

If you have a single request and the film is not restricted, we can do a lookup here with your provided information and send you a jpg of the image. We have no way of knowing if this image will be better than the one you can make at your local Family History Center, but we are willing to try."

I don't have anything to look up at the moment, but I will try this when I do. The link seems to relate only to non-circulating films, but the reply seems to indicate they understand our porblem. Here's the link.

Donald Fritze
Marshfield, WI

Re: FHCs Seem to be Abandoned

Posted: 1348470231000
Classification: Query
This is very helpful! Thank you! :-)

Re: FHCs Seem to be Abandoned

Posted: 1348488755000
Classification: Query
Please let us know if you try it. I'd like to know how it goes and how good the image.
per page

Find a board about a specific topic