Family History Research GuideOnline Sources

Online Sources

Family History Research Guide

Church Periodicals

The Church History Library has digitized many early periodicals published by the Church. Often, these early publications contain information on specific individuals.

Saints By Sea

Outward Bound, The Goconda, Leaving Liverpool, January 17th 1853 by George Ottinger.

The Saints By Sea database indexes Latter-day Saint emigration records and ship rosters from 1840 to 1932. It contains travelers' biographical and historical information, including their names, ages, origins, and their ports of departure and arrival; the known number of Latter-day Saints aboard the various ships; and the names of their company leaders. It also includes narrative accounts of ships' voyages and links to scholarly articles about the Latter-day Saint migration experience. This database is hosted by Brigham Young University.

Pioneer Database

Down-and-back wagon train headed through Echo Canyon on its way east to meet Mormon emigrants at the Missouri River and transport them to Utah, circa 1866. Photograph by Charles W. Carter.

The Pioneer Database is the most complete listing of individual pioneers and pioneer companies that traveled to Utah from 1847 through 1868. It lists approximately 60,000 of the estimated 70,000–75,000 individuals who crossed the plains, containing biographical information, dates, and personal accounts (when available). New information is added as it is discovered.

Missionary Database

Elder Cyrus LeRoy Greaves of Preston, Idaho, was called to serve in the Eastern States Mission from 1904 to 1906. His acceptance reply was sent from Cardston, Alberta, Canada, to President Joseph F. Smith.

The Missionary Database contains details about the service of approximately 40,000 Latter-day Saint missionaries who served throughout the century following the organization of the Church. Individual missionaries' pages contain personal information, where and when they served, and photographs (when available). Missionaries' profiles may also contain links to digitized journals, letters, and so forth made available by the Church History Library, the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University, and FamilySearch.

Mormons and Their Neighbors

Mormons and Their Neighbors is an index listing more than 100,000 life sketches published in over 200 local and regional history books relating to Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Southern California, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, northern Mexico, and southwestern Canada. The people indexed lived primarily between 1820 and 1981, and many non-Latter-day Saint pioneers and settlers are included as well. Index entries state whether a photograph accompanies the person’s life sketch and where to find the source publication. This digital index is hosted by the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University. (Many of the publications in the index can be found there or at the Church History Library.)

Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia

The four volumes of the Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia.

Compiled by Andrew Jenson, this four-volume set includes a large collection of life sketches and photographs of early Church members. The volumes include a few selected entries about women in the early Church. The first volume was published in 1901 and the last in 1936. The index found in volume 4 covers the entire set. Digitized copies are hosted by the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University.

Encyclopedic History of the Church

Compiled by Andrew Jenson and published in 1941, this volume contains brief histories of branches, wards, stakes, conferences, districts, missions, selected localities, and Church publications, as well as entries on miscellaneous subjects. These entries frequently name specific people, especially if they occupied a leadership position in a given unit; thus, if you know that an ancestor lived in a specific Church unit, its entry may mention them. Entries on local units also often include information on the area's settlement. A digitized copy is hosted by the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University.

Church Chronology

Compiled by Andrew Jenson, this volume gives brief chronological entries of Church-related historical events from 1805 through 1898. Names of early Latter-day Saints frequently appear; however, since the entries are usually short, additional research will likely be needed once a name is found. The digital copy is hosted on the Internet Archive.

Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah

Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah, Letter to President Brigham Young from Sarah Cooper of Richmond, Utah, in 1866, asking for money to help members of her family immigrate.

Compiled by Frank Esshom and published in 1913, this volume contains about 5,900 photographs and 5,700 brief life sketches of pioneers and settlers in early Utah and the Intermountain West. This digital copy is hosted on the Internet Archive.

Brigham Young Office Files

This collection includes approximately 15,000 letters from Church members and others who were seeking personal guidance, spiritual advice, financial help, Latter-day Saint literature, and autographs from President Brigham Young. Most of these letters are searchable by name, location, or topic. To search them, enter the collection’s call number (CR 1234 1) into the Church History Catalog search bar followed by your search terms (for example, "John Smith"). For Brigham Young's replies to letters he received, consult the letterbooks series in the collection. (Note that outgoing letters contained in the letterbooks series have not yet been indexed.)

Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Journal History is a daily history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1830 to 2008. It is a scrapbook created from newspapers, meeting minutes, diary entries, and other sources. Individual members are frequently mentioned. Parts of the Journal History have been indexed, and it is available online through 1923. The link above connects to the research guide on the Journal History, which provides more specific information and help in navigating the collection.

Seventies’ Autobiographies

This is a compilation of brief autobiographies written by Nauvoo-era members of the Quorums of Seventies. It contains basic biographical information as well as stories and personal remembrances gathered from Seventies Records, 1844-1975 (CR 499). This is not a complete record, as many Seventies did not comply with the request of their quorum leaders to submit a profile. It is available at the reference desk; ask a staff member for assistance. Bear in mind that these autobiographies are from the era when Quorums of Seventies were organized at the local level, not Churchwide, as is done today.