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Discover your Ancestors & Preserve your Memories

Published online: Oct 09, 2023 Lifestyle Susan Stucki
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Ever wonder about your ancestors? Who are they and what is their story? Answers to those questions can be discovered at the newly updated community FamilySearch Center which was created for use by the entire community–and it is absolutely free.

October, the official Family History Month, is a great time to begin or continue your journey into connecting with your past.

Mary Flegel, a volunteer at the Idaho Falls FamilySearch Center, reveals more about this unique service. She shared the following story about a couple visiting the area who came to the center:

This couple was able to locate a grandfather who had always been a mystery and, along with finding the grandfather, they tapped into a lineage back to the King Henry III era in England,” Mary said. “Their story is the story of many people who visit the center knowing very little about their ancestors but having a desire to learn more.

Not everyone who enters our doors is a novice at finding their ancestors. Some have become regulars. They come in with specific questions about their current family history project and desire access to those who can answer those questions.

Others come because they are not yet comfortable with using the website, and they seek guidance from one of the experts until they feel they have mastered the process. Still others come to use programs and equipment offered at the center that they cannot access at home.

The center has three major functions. The first is using FamilySearch and other computer programs that provide help in our search for ancestors. Some of these programs charge a member fee, but anyone who comes in our doors may use them without charge. Two examples of these free websites are Ancestry.com and Fold3, the National Archive program of American military service.

Recently, I was able to gather information about an ancestor who had immigrated from Ireland prior to the Revolutionary War. I found him as a lieutenant in that war where he was actively engaged in helping to preserve the new nation that he loved. He was wounded, captured twice and was discussed in battle reports sent to General George Washington. He spent some time in a British prison at Long Island, New York, but he lived to marry and raise a family in Pennsylvania. I was able to write a biography of his life using FamilySearch, Ancestry, and Fold3 to collect relevant sources and details.

Another service popular with the community is our technology that allows our visitors to preserve their family heritage. Our computer specialist explains: “We have the ability to convert physical items like photos, old 8mm movie film, audio recordings, slides & negatives, and digital tapes such as VHS, MiniDV, and other formats. Using available software, these digital files can be edited to improve image quality, or in the case of audio and video recordings, edited into smaller and shareable digital clips. Home movies on DVD can be copied from the disk to an .mp4 movie file.  Most FamilySearch Centers do not offer the scope or availability of equipment that is available at our center.”

There is no charge for these services.

A third facet of what we offer here at the center is a variety of classes offered to the public at no charge. Visit the Idaho Falls FamilySearch page at www.familysearch.org for more information about researching your ancestors, preserving a digital heritage of your family, or selecting classes.

Many people in the community come to the center to find an ancestor, or to use our preservation equipment. It has been an exciting and welcome opportunity to share what we have with the community.

The use of all our computers and the personal help provided by our volunteers are free to the public. The FamilySearch Center is a gift to the community, and we welcome everyone.

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