Church History Catalog FAQs

    What can I find in the Church History Catalog?

    The catalog contains bibliographical information for items housed in Church History facilities, such as the Church History Library and the Matthew Cowley Pacific Church History Centre. Using the search features, you can find records specific to your research needs, view digital collections, and experience audiovisual material. You can also find tips for using and navigating the catalog features, informative research guides and research assistance, information about visiting the library, and featured collections.

    What features are available when I am logged in?

    Logging in to the catalog using your LDS Account gives you the ability to save and organize your favorite collections for easy access. You can also look at copyrighted items that are accessible only to registered users, or items that you have been granted approval to view. When you are at a Church History facility, such as the Church History Library, you must be logged in to request material to be viewed on-site.

    What is the difference between a library and an archive?

    Both libraries and archives maintain collections of material for public use. A library generally contains books and other printed materials. An archive contains both published and unpublished documents in multiple formats, like manuscripts, photographs, letters, diaries, audiovisual material, and so on. Archives frequently contain unique collections and rare items that may require special arrangements to view.

    Why are some features and functionality missing?

    If you have previously used the Church History Catalog, you may have noticed that some useful features are currently not available. These features are in development and will be ready in the near future. We are continually enhancing the catalog to better meet user needs. If you have comments on existing features, elements from the old catalog you would like to see in this update, or suggestions for improvement, please use the Feedback button found on every page.

    How is the Church History Library different from the Family History Library?

    The Church History Library collects materials specifically focused on the history of the Church and the significant religious experiences of its members, such as official Church records, original documents, and rare texts. The Family History Library collects and maintains biographical records focused on identifying individuals and discovering vital statistics. Once you find your ancestor at the Family History Library, come to the Church History Library to better understand their place in Church history.

    What are featured collections?

    Church History Library staff members select significant digitized collections to feature on the catalog home page. These featured collections represent the scope of material available at the library and are updated frequently.

    How do I search in the Church History Catalog?

    Enter your search term (name of a person, place, ward, and so on) into the search box under the Church History Catalog title. If you end up with a lot of results, you may want to narrow your search using the filters (see the next entry for how to use the filters). If your search gives you no results or unrelated results, then try alternate spellings or broaden your search. For example, if you are looking for an ancestor who lived in Tooele, Utah, and served in the Australian Mission, but you find no results when searching for his name, then you could search for records from Tooele or the Australian Mission and look for references to him in that material. Many of our records are not indexed or searchable by key word.

    You may also want to check out the “Getting Started” and “Effective Searching” articles found under “Using the Catalog” on the main page.

    How do I narrow my search results?

    You can narrow your search results using the filters on the left side of the page under “Narrow Your Search.” Each heading will allow you to narrow your search using a different type of information. For example, clicking an option under “Genre,” like Photographs, Journals, or Correspondence, will limit your search results by item type. Using filters will narrow your search results to a particular category of items in the Church History Catalog and help you to more easily find materials that will assist in your research.

    What is a “call number”?

    A call number is an address for locating material housed in the Church History Library. It indicates where the item is found and, in some cases, what type of item it is. The library uses the standard Dewey Decimal System for most published items and a modified version for books on topics relating to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For archival items, call numbers include two letters, indicating material type, followed by numbers.

    What is the difference between an item and a collection?

    An item is an individual object such as a DVD, book, or letter. A collection is a group of items organized and assembled in a way that identifies the connections between them. For example, the Church History Library has a collection of materials from Wilford Woodruff (MS 1352). The collection contains journals, correspondence, and other papers created by Woodruff and those close to him. Each of those journals, letters, and so on is an item within the collection. The items are connected by Woodruff and his involvement in creating or receiving them. Some collections may contain only a single item, but not all items are part of a collection (such as books and pamphlets).

    What is the difference between “digital” and “non-digital”?

    When something is labeled as “digital” in the Church History Catalog, it means that the item is available for you to view online. When something is labeled as “non-digital,” then it is not available to view online and is only available at the location where the item or collection is stored. Not all items labeled “electronic record” are available to view online. Some items are labeled as “limited access” and are not available to view without special permission. See the next entry for information about accessing these items.

    How do I ask for approval to view “limited access” items?

    If an item listed as “limited access” is essential to your research, please use the Ask Us button to submit your request. Include the title and call number of the item or collection, as well as what information you hope to find and how it will be helpful in your research. Your request will be reviewed, and you will be contacted for further details or when a decision has been made. Please be aware that it may take several weeks for us to review your request and respond.

    What is a collection?

    A collection is a compilation of multiple items that were assembled by one or more creators, and may contain many different formats. Click the title or thumbnail to see more details about a collection.

    What is the difference between “Browse Collection” and “About the Collection”?

    The Browse Collection tab displays an arranged view of the contents of the collection. The About the Collection tab displays general information about the collection and its contents. We will display available information about the author, date span, subjects, and summary of the collection on both pages.

    How do I view digital images or content?

    Click the image thumbnail or the Open in Viewer button to open the media viewer.

    How do I get a digital version of an item or collection?

    After clicking the download link, you will have the option to download the specific item displayed on the screen or all of the items in the thumbnail ribbon across the bottom of the screen. A list of available formats will be displayed, allowing you to select your preferred file format and size.

    Why do some collections or items require approval to access?

    Some materials are unavailable to view because of copyright, privacy, and other concerns. Please see our access policy for more information.

    How do I gain access to items labeled “limited access”?

    If an item listed as “limited access” is essential to your research, please use the Ask Us button to submit your request. Include the title and call number of the item or collection, as well as what information you hope to find and how it will be helpful in your research. Your request will be reviewed, and you will be contacted for further details or when a decision has been made. Please be aware that it may take several weeks for us to review your request and respond.

    Do I need to visit the Church History Library to view non-digital materials?

    Yes. If materials are not available to view online, you may be able to view them in the library reading room. Items labeled “limited access” need additional permission to view and will not be immediately available. If the material is held by another Church History facility, such as the Matthew Cowley Pacific Church History Centre in New Zealand, you will need to visit that center to view the material.

    Can non-digital materials be made available online?

    We accept suggestions for digitization of materials housed at the Church History Library. Click the Suggest Digitization button and complete the form. Because of the library’s ongoing efforts to digitize materials, your suggestion will be placed in a prioritized queue. We are unable to digitize some items because of copyright or other concerns (see the next entry for more information).

    Why aren’t more materials available online?

    We add hundreds of images to our online catalog every day. This is an ongoing effort. However, we are unable to make some digital images available online because of copyright, privacy, and other concerns. Please see our access policy for more information.

    What is “Everything in Collection”?

    The “Everything in Collection” feature is a tool for navigating the contents of a collection. It is an expandable list that displays groupings of materials in a collection. Selecting one of the options in the list will narrow the displayed results. Not all collections are grouped the same way. Some are organized alphabetically, some chronologically, and others topically or by material type.

    What is the difference between “arrangement view” and “gallery view”?

    Arrangement view allows you to see a list of all the parts of a collection, with more detail and digital images when available. Gallery view is available only for digital collections and allows you to scroll through thumbnails of all the images.

    How do I view documents or other content?

    View digital items by clicking the image or the Open in Viewer button. If an item is non-digital, use the Check Availability button to determine location, format, and availability. These items may be viewed only in the facility where they are stored.

    How do I use the media viewer?

    The media viewer has many tools to help you navigate and explore images as well as audio and video materials. Use the viewer navigation tool at the bottom of the page to advance through the available images, adjust them for easier viewing, and control audiovisual media. The thumbnail ribbon at the bottom of the page lets you view all the images at a glance and select a particular image. Specific information about the material is available on the right side of the screen below the download link.

    How can I download an item or set of items?

    After clicking the download link, you will have the option to download the specific item displayed on the screen or all of the items in the thumbnail ribbon across the bottom of the screen. A list of available formats will be displayed, allowing you to select your preferred file format and size.

    How can I seek permission to share or publish an item?

    To determine whether permission is needed to publish or share an item, check the Rights field in the General Information drop-down list. Click the Rights description for a link to find publishing guidelines for the rights statement listed. If the rights statement is not displayed for an item, refer to the general information in “About the Collection.”