The following article is reprinted with permission from Dick Eastman's Eastman's Online Genealogical Newsletter for July 5th, 2009:
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the Mormons), has gathered a huge amount of genealogical information. Their Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah is the largest such facility in the world, with millions of books and microfilmed records, as well as many on microfiche. There is no fee for searching any of the records available in the library. They are completely FREE for anyone to search.
Of course, not everyone lives near Salt Lake City, or can afford the time and money to travel there. For most of us, we can use a nearby "catalog office" that allows us to access most of the same information that is in Salt Lake City.
There is no charge to visit a local Family History Center. However, you will be asked to pay for any photocopies you make (usually about $.05 per page) and you are asked to pay for the postage for the microfilms you rent from the main library in Salt Lake City (typically $5.50 in the United States for a 30-day rental).
Many local Family History Centers have computer scanners so you can load up your thumb drive with images and take them home to view on your own computer. Most local centers also have a collection of the most frequently used microforms and sometimes they also have a large collection of genealogy books. Family History Centers are completely free for your use, as are their computers.
Both the Family History Library and the satellite Family History Centers also offer free access to gigantic databases and to a number of research web sites such as Ancestry and HeritageQuest Online.
The local Family History Centers can provide most of the resources of the huge Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Of course, a trip to a local center will probably be much more cost-effective than a trip to Salt Lake City! Many of the centers are located in Mormon churches. However, you will never be given any information about the Mormon religion nor will you be approached by Mormon missionaries, unless you ask. The local Centers welcome visitors of all faiths. In fact, history has shown that the local centers are more popular amongst non-Mormons than amongst those who belong to that faith.
You can find your nearest local Family History Center at http://www.familysearch.org/eng/Library/FHC/frameset_fhc.asp. "