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What is FamilySearch & What is an Affiliate Library? 


General Information

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogical organization in the world.  Many people use the FamilySearch website to locate resources and services to learn more about their family history.  Using the FamilySearch website is free and creating an online account allows access to much of its vast collection of information.    


Affiliate Libraries

Though FamilySearch offers access to millions of records, resources, and services for free, not everything is viewable to those using FamilySearch from home.  This is because of licensing limitations surrounding the use of some materials.  But libraries that become FamilySearch Affiliate Members can offer access to many more records, images, and indexes than would otherwise be available.   


The Library is now an Affiliate Library

All eight locations of the Dauphin County Library System recently became a FamilySearch Affiliate Library member.  This means those using our public computers or their personal devices connected to The Library’s WiFi can access many more FamilySearch resources—something not possible when using the FamilySearch website from home or from a location that isn’t an affiliated institution.   


How to Use FamilySearch When Visiting The Library

  • If using our public computers, you can access the FamilySearch site from an icon on the computer’s desktop or go to our Genealogy website and click on the FamilySearch link.  



  • If you bring your laptop or other personal device to any of our 8 locations, and connect to our Wi-Fi, you can access the FamilySearch website from our Genealogy website and click on the FamilySearch site. 


  • If you need help, please talk with one of our staff who will be happy to help.



How to Know When Resources are Restricted to Affiliate Libraries

Since not everything on FamilySearch can be viewed or used when at home, there are a couple of ways to know whether a record, image, or index is restricted for viewing at an Affiliate Library.  It used to be that all restricted records were identified by a key and camera image next to the item, like the one below. 



You will still see that icon on some records, however, in many cases, you will not see any indication that a record is restricted until you click on the item.  In this situation, a pop-up will appear that indicates where an image of the record can be viewed.  Here’s an example of what you might see. 


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If the message indicates, “Access the site at a FamilySearch Affiliate library,” then you know it can be viewed at any of our 8 locations.  Be sure to write down the information about the record, image, or index so you can find and view it when at The Library.   


Once at The Library, and after finding and viewing the information, be sure to either print the information, or save the information on your computer or to a device, such as a USB flash drive.  Otherwise, once you leave The Library, online access will again be restricted.    


Some Resources are Limited to Family History Centers — Though FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries are given access to more resources than one can access from home, some licensing agreements limit availability of information to only Family History Centers (sometimes called FamilySearch Centers).  The information pop-up mentioned above will indicate when a resource is only available from a Family History Center. 

Learn more about what a Family History Center is >