Salt Lake City

Just shy of my seventieth birthday, I finally made it to Salt Lake City. I am a notoriously bad traveler (with a tendency toward such things as sciatica, migraines, and hives), but the occasion was the annual meeting of the American Society of Genealogists, and since this was the first meeting after my election as a Fellow last October it seemed rather rude not to show up.

I survived the trip and got to enjoy three mild, sunny October days in Salt Lake (the fourth day was cold and windy). I enjoyed meeting new colleagues and seeing old faces, some not seen in 30 or more years. Rachal Mills Lennon is our newest Fellow.

I managed to spend about six hours in the Family History Library (FHL), just enough time to learn that my ancestor John Williams of Monmouthshire, Wales, was apparently James Williams, though I’m still puzzling on that. I also found out more about their program of digitizing 2.4 million rolls of microfilm. There are, as best as I can gather, three ways records are currently available:

  • Records digitized from microfilm and available at the FHL and its 5,000 family history centers and affiliate libraries around the world (including NEHGS), as well as on the Internet at such sites as,,, and Not all of the digitized records are on all of these sites, and even when the same records are on multiple sites, each provider has its own presentation and search system, which makes it worthwhile to cross check providers. The microfilms have been retired and are no longer available to researchers.
  • Records digitized from microfilm and available at the FHL and its centers and affiliates, but not yet (or perhaps never to be) posted on the Internet. Some of these are restricted by copyright and other contractual agreements. These microfilms have also been retired and are not available to researchers.
  • Microfilms that have not yet been digitized. Some commonly-accessed microfilms are still available in the FHL reading rooms. Others have to be accessed from storage by request with advance notice. Once digitized, they will also be retired.

Salt Lake City is lovely and quiet. They actually have signs delineating “downtown” (perhaps five square blocks that are large but walkable even for this old lady; I got briefly disoriented by the grid pattern streets – South Temple, North Temple, West North Temple), but on a nice day the walk was pleasant. I did not get in to see the Temple nor any other historic sites on this trip. The best-kept secret, in my humble opinion, is Harmons grocery store (135 East 100 South) about four blocks from the FHL. This giant super store has everything, including convenience meals. If you have a fridge and microwave in your hotel room, you can easily feed yourself all week – of course, there are plenty of good restaurants around, too!

About Alicia Crane Williams

Alicia Crane Williams, FASG, Lead Genealogist of Early Families of New England Study Project, has compiled and edited numerous important genealogical publications including The Mayflower Descendant and the Alden Family “Silver Book” Five Generations project of the Mayflower Society. Most recently, she is the author of the 2017 edition of The Babson Genealogy, 1606-2017, Descendants of Thomas and Isabel Babson who first arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1637. Alicia has served as Historian of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, Assistant Historian General at the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, and as Genealogist of the Alden Kindred of America. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in History from Northeastern University.

18 thoughts on “Salt Lake City

  1. Being about your age I am sympathetic of your comments about travel. Glad you finally got to see “Mecca”.

    1. Pat, thanks. I was just thinking about my photo above. It is ten years old and I probably ought to get it updated, but I like it because it makes me look 60!

    1. Hi Judy,

      I braved the wild west in my youth when Mom and Dad took me all over the country (except Alaska and the Pacific Northwest) in the camper. Hated the traveling, but visited some lovely places.

  2. Harmons is nothing compared to Wegmans in the Rochester area. We are considered the greatest supermarket city in the United States. That’s supermarket now has spread to parts of New York and in Pennsylvania.

  3. Here is an example of Alicia’s comment about digitized records being different, both collections below have some of the same records, but not all. If you have ancestors in Quebec in the early 1800s, these church records are a gold mine for births, baptisms, marriages and deaths.

    On is this: Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection) 1621-1967 – They are searchable, but the quality of the images are not as good.

    On is this: Québec, registres des églises protestantes, 1763-1967 – These are not searchable, but each volume has an index at the front. It does take some time to go through them, but the images are very clear. It helps if you know the town, and year, because that is how the volumes are organized.

  4. I used to have layovers there when I flew for the airlines and always took advantage of the time in the library. I found a will there that helped prove a connection to my Stephen Hopkins line several years before the wills were released online.
    I agree it is a great city to walk around. Sorry you missed the Tabernacle.
    The surrounding mountain views are spectacular, aren’t they!

    1. Yes, mountains lovely. Great views flying in and out of the Great Salt Lake. I got to see ground through Wyoming, Nebraska/South Dakota?, the Mississippi, into Michigan, and then it all got socked in with remnants of Nate, but enjoyed what I could see.

  5. Alicia Williams, In regards to our photos……..Mine is from 2001 taken by my 4 yr old grand daughter…….and I too like it, because is shows my good side.(lo) I have no intention of replacing it yet…….and a few years older than you…..happy you shared that personal tidbit!

  6. I went for the first and only time on the NEHGS trip a few years ago–really amazing. That is a fantastic grocery store, and the city itself was much more interesting than I thought it would be, though I was in the library as much as possible. I did splurge on restaurants–you have to relax after being hopped up on genealogy all day.

  7. Glad you finally got to the FHS. Did you see the ground floor interactive activities available? I hope that will help spark an interest in younger people to take up the hobby. Harmons was a blessing to me last summer, as I was able to work longer and not spend as much money the last time I was there.

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