Making the most of the Church of The Latter Day Saints archives.
This is not about religion, but about how we as genealogists can cash in on the the largest collection of free family history,
Family tree and genealogy records in the world. When they claim that on the web site, they are not kidding, for the database is larger than the KGB, CIA and MI5 combined. The library itself is located at 35 North West Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84150-3400, and has 142,000 square feet on five air conditioned floors.
The church has a belief, that in heaven its members will meet all their ancestors, so they have to make sure they know who all these people are, sort of prepare to meet them. Regardless of your personal beliefs, as a genealogist, it is nice to cash in on the LDS theories. Thus, this amazing library had its beginnings in 1894. They have been very leading edge, with regards to storing the data.
In 1938, the library began to make use of a new records technology: microfilm. In that year, the Genealogical Society raised money to purchase records already on microfilm and in October 1938 purchased its own microfilm camera. The society's extensive microfilming program is renowned worldwide, and its microfilm collection (more than 2.4 million rolls in 2004) is now unsurpassed anywhere.
In 1944, the library contained 42,000 volumes and 2,000 rolls of microfilm. The records continued to grow, so in early 1961 they authorized the hiring of computer experts and purchase of a computer for the Genealogical Society. In late 1963 the Church completed construction of the Granite Mountain Records Vault, located in Little Cottonwood Canyon, about 25 miles southeast of Salt Lake City. This facility was literally tunnelled into the mountainside and provides a safe repository for camera masters of the precious microfilmed records.
To make the most of the library, you have to remove the records created by LDS members, they are very speculative at best, and do not always have sources to back up the information. Luckily, a chap called Hugh Walliss has created a Genealogical Web Sites guide.
The original manuscripts, and microfilm copies purchased by the LDS were all transcribed into the big computer, and each was given a batch code. These files do have holes within them, but are a great resource to finding your relatives. The LDS site will not allow you to search a surname, with date data; you have to put in a first name as well. Using the batch codes, you can extract every surname recorded in a parish, which narrows down the search somewhat. I advise a visit to see the original once data is found, as these records have been transcribed by another human being, and to err is human as they say.
In addition there is a really good link he has created, is the IGI Middle Name indexes, where if your relative has a strange middle name, you can track him or her with this neat site, which is organised into counties of England.
There is a link to Stoke Damerel (Devon) On Line Parish Clerk (OPC) site, if your folks were from Portsmouth (Devonport) and he has transcribed the Vaughan Wills proved in the Archdeaconry of Brecon 1575-1858, which covers south Wales.