Family History Centers, or FamilySearch Centers, are a less and less used resource. Why? One writer, Mike Voisin, discusses the realities of their use, and I’ve also written about the subject — The New (Ir)Relevance of FamilySearch. One critical example of their resources I’ve used is in A Brief Genealogy of the Maling Family.
Some areas of the country may or may not have access to the resources I do, but here are some sources I use that we can all share.
Local and regional genealogy and history societies are great resources. The Seattle Genealogical Society has an improved website and their catalog is online.
The Seattle Public Library has great, nationally recognized genealogy and special collections departments.
The University of Washington’s Suzzallo/Allen Library history and special collections are geared toward academic use, but contain lots of useful material.
The National Archives and Records Administration facility here in Seattle, is a national resource.
A great example of how these resources are used is HistoryLink.org. Researchers working with HistoryLink.org’s site focus on materials found in all the above resources, and more. Are these resources available to researchers at an FHC? More likely than not, no. Are they better resources? More direct, original, and primary? Yes.
The librarians and collections curators at these research facilities are far more knowledgeable about their materials and other resources than the volunteers you find at the Family History Centers. These folks will help you decide what is appropriate material, given their area of expertise, and point you to other potential resources. I’ve never been able to get that kind of help from an FHC volunteer.
Will I miss the demise of a local FHC? No.