Getting Started in the Church History Catalog

5 March 2019

In this article learn the basics of using the library catalog to search for historical images, records, collections, and digital content. It includes advice about searching, navigation, registration, the use of library materials, and how to find help when using the catalog.

The Library

The Church History Library provides archival storage and public access for materials that chronicle the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1830 to the present day. The library collects materials produced by or containing information about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members. These materials come from different sources and represent numerous points of view. Neither the Church nor the library endorses every item in our collection. Our staff of professional librarians, archivists, and historians continue to acquire and describe the materials in our collection and to provide you with digital access to as much material as possible.

Types of Records

The library contains many different types of records, from printed or published materials such as books and newspapers to unique archival materials such as personal journals and photographs. All the materials found in the library are related in some way to the history of the restored Church of Jesus Christ.


A collection is a compilation of multiple items that were assembled by one or more creators, and it may contain many different formats.

Searching Tips

Begin your search broadly with a key word or phrase. Use the filters on the left side of the page to narrow down the results displayed. The filters will help you focus on your specific research question or interest.


Click the title or thumbnail to see more details about a collection you have found in your search. Often there are collections in the library that contain many items, and some items may not be fully described. In many cases archivists and historians have created a general table of contents, called a finding aid, to help you find what you are looking for in a large collection.


We highly suggest that all users register with a Church Account in our library system. Church membership is not required to register for a Church Account. Registration will allow you to view physical materials in the library reading room or digital images that may be protected by copyright. Registration is free and will give you the most access to our online resources.

Digital Content

While we are working tirelessly to digitize the records in our collection, there are many records that remain non-digital. The catalog clearly states whether a record is available to view digitally online or whether a physical version of the material must be viewed in the library. Some of our audiovisual materials have not been transferred to a digital format, meaning that they are available only on VHS, audiocassette tape, DVD, and so on.

Help and FAQs

We are here to help you find sources in our archives that will help in your research. Each page contains help links with answers to “Frequently Asked Questions.” Look for the “Tell me more” link found throughout the catalog, which will better explain specific terminology and library policies. If you have specific research questions or need additional guidance, consider reaching out to our professional consultation staff, who are trained to help guide you in your research and answer questions about using library collections. They can be reached through the “Ask Us” link found on every page.