Sunday, July 29, 2012

Church Record Sunday: Church History Library Catalog Online (LDS)

Back in January, I was in Salt Lake City attending SLIG. While there I took advantage of being able to go research at the Family History Library and the Church History Library. At that time I said to one of the librarians at the Church History Library, "when is your catalog going to be available online?" So you can imagine I was pretty excited to see the recent addition of the online catalog.

The Church History Library has quite a bit of resources that are vital to not just the study of the historical Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but to the history of some communities and genealogy. If you have an ancestor who was Mormon, you should search this catalog for possible items not found at the Family History Library.

Screen shot taken 29 July 2012

The homepage for the catalog shows you some of the highlights of the collection (partially shown in  the screen shots above and below ). A keyword search is under the title "Church History Catalog." From the searches I did, it appears that the search engine does allow exact phrase searching by using quotes around  keywords. So "Moses G Wilson" instead of Moses G Wilson, thus narrowing my search to a relevant hit.

An important thing to remember in any research, even research looking at a specific religious group, is that in some cases non-members of that religious group may be mentioned in materials held by a religious archive. In this case, the above screen shot includes the resource Mormons and Neighbors. This work includes biographical sketches of people living in "northern Mexico, New Mexico, Arizona, southern California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and northwestern Canada." Non-Mormons are included in this work.

One of my reasons for going to the Church History Library in January was to find information on a man who was the 2nd husband of a 4th great-grandmother.  Married and living in Texas, Moses G Wilson had previously lived in Jackson County, Missouri. It was there that he was one of the leaders that persecuted and drove the Mormons from their homes.

A search found this one result. Now, from my experience researching at the Library in January I know there are other resources that mention Moses. I'm assuming that there might be some difference in this online version of the catalog and the one available at the Library. (However, this could also be because I haven't explored the catalog enough).

What I love about this version of the catalog is the suggested subject searches provided to the left of the results. This provides the researcher with more ideas for broadening a search.

Because this is a digitized book, I can access it from the catalog, just as one can do when searching on the Family History Library Catalog.

At the top right under the Libraries drop down menu you can narrow or broaden your search to include All Libraries, Church History Library, Family History Books, BYU Digital Collections, and Internet Archives. Internet Archives takes you to the website Internet Archive and a collection of over 12,000 items that are digitized from the Church History Library.

I'm so happy to see this addition to the tools we have for researching Mormon ancestors. Try it out and see what you can find from this historical resource.

As a side note, in case you're wondering what I was researching at the Library. Aside from Moses, I was looking into some genealogical materials for my maternal line as well as my continuing research on nineteenth century women's attitudes towards polygamy.

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