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Shhh! It’s a Secret!

As a genealogist, do you do most of your research online? I have to admit that I tend to concentrate on sources that are online and don’t take the time to see what I’m missing by relying on online sources.

Since I happen to live a few hours from the Midwest Genealogy Center and since my husband is also hooked on the genealogy habit, we try to visit this fabulous genealogy library at least once a year. Usually, my pre-trip plans center around creating a list of localities I want to research and not a specific list of sources.

This time, I had a book that I wanted to find: Descendants of Alexander and Mary McPheeters Crawford. According to WorldCat, this book was supposed be in the collection at the Midwest Genealogy Center. However, it wasn’t listed in their catalog. Thus, I knew I would need to ask for help to verify that they did not have the book.

I am SO GLAD I asked for help! The librarian verified that the print copy of the book was missing. However, she didn’t stop there. In our conversation, I told her that there was a copy on microfiche at the Family History Library. She immediately looked the book up on FamilySearch and then with some computer magic, told me they had the book on microfiche!

Not only did they have this book, but they had drawers full of microfiche and microfilm from the Family History Library.

When the Family History Library stopped their loan program, they ended up with a lot of rolls of microfilm and a lot of microfiche that had been used in that program. Since this media duplicated what was in the Salt Lake library, they offered it to genealogy collections. And the Midwest Genealogy Center accepted all of this film.

The Midwest Genealogy Center does not have a copy of all of the film collection of the Family History Library — but they have a lot! Since some of the resources on FamilySearch have not been digitized and others are only available at a Family History Center, this collection of film and fiche will be very helpful to genealogists using the Midwest Genealogy Center.

To figure out whether the Midwest Genealogy Center has a desired resource, one must do a little of preparatory work. First, one has to locate the FILM number for the resource on the FamilySearch website.

The next step is to see of Midwest Genealogy Center has that particular film.

  • On the Browse Resources page, scroll down a bit to locate the heading MGC Microforms Holding Guide
  • Click on MGC Microfoms Holding Guide to expand the menu
  • Locate Family History Library Microfilm on Indefinite Loan to MGC and click to open the PDF file
  • The PDF is just a list of numbers — the FILM NUMBERS
  • This is where one needs the film number from the FamilySearch website. Search the PDF file for the film number.
  • Since my film number (6110842) was on the list, that meant that the microfiche of the book was in the Midwest Genealogy Center.

Midwest Genealogy Center has a room devoted to microfilm. Until yesterday, I assumed that a large share of this microfilm was the census microfilm that I used when first starting my genealogy research. Now, I know that there’s a who lot more hidden in these large cabinets of microfilm.

I had also assumed that the microfiche collection of the MGC were the UMI collection of genealogy resources. I had used some of this collection in the past, but was not aware of the quantity of resources available. 

In addition to the UMI microfiche, MGC has a collection of microfiche from the Family History Library. It was in these cabinets that I found the microfiche of the Crawford book.

Not only does the MGC have all of these resources, they have a wonderful room fully equipped with the technology to not only read the microfilm/microfiche but to also create a digital copy of the images.

Even though I’ve used this wonderful genealogy library several times over the past few years, I was not aware of all of these wonderful resources. 

Now, the secret is out! 

I wonder what secrets are hidden in other libraries. Let’s work together to discover and expose these wonderful gems in the collections of our libraries, historical societies, genealogy societies and archives!