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Saturday, March 14, 2020

The Impact of Coronavirus COVID-19 on the Genealogical Community: March 14, 2020

As of the date of this post, the Coronavirus COVID-19 is now affecting 49 of the 50 U.S. States. Its worldwide impact is also dramatically affecting the genealogical community. Because of the demographic for those people most at risk from the Coronavirus and those who are most likely to be involved in genealogical activities coincide and the fact that I am squarely in both demographics, I have decided to write a series of posts about my own and my family's experiences with the pandemic. See Comments on the Contemporary. But I am also going to comment on genealogically specific impacts here on Genealogy's Star.

This past week has had an overwhelming number of news announcements that will directly affect genealogists. Here are most of the ones I am aware of.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the closure of all public buildings on or around the world-famous Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. See "Coronavirus: 10 church-owned buildings in and around Salt Lake’s Temple Square are closed ‘until further notice’." This closure includes the Salt Lake City, Utah Family History Library, a destination spot for genealogical researchers from all over the world. Here is the announcement from FamilySearch.
NOTICE: Temporary Family History Library Closure
Out of concern for the health and safety of our guests, volunteers, and staff, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City will temporarily close starting at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 13, 2020 until further notice. This closure is to support preventive efforts to control the spread of COVID-19. 
Regional FamilySearch centers and libraries have been asked to consider the direction of their local and government leaders, and then make informed decisions about temporary closures. If you plan to visit a FamilySearch center soon, please call ahead to ensure it is open at the regular times. (Included at the bottom of this post is a list of centers that are currently closed.) 
We appreciate your understanding and encourage you to use the vast genealogical resources available at to continue your family discoveries. During the time the Family History Library is closed, personal assistance will continue to be provided online through FamilySearch Community (see video) and Family History Library Classes and Webinars. 
We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this closure may cause. For the latest Family History Library status updates, please refer to the FamilySearch newsroom. 
David E. Rencher
Director of the Family History Library
At about the same time, all of the volunteer missionaries were also sent home until further notice from the Brigham Young University, Family History Library, the second-largest family history library in the world. As the notice indicates, many, if not most, of the local Family History Centers around the world may also be impacted and closed for an indefinite time. Note, that if you plan to visit a Family History Center, please call ahead to ensure it is open at all. Note that many of the regional FamilySearch Centers such as those in Riverton, Utah and St. George, Utah are also closed.

The closure of the BYU Family History Library directly impacted both my wife and me. We are essentially out of a job for the duration of the emergency. But, of course, I am still online all day, every day, and if you need help, you can email or contact me through any of the social networking sites.

Many other major libraries and a lot of smaller ones, especially those associated with colleges and universities, may also be affected.

For those who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Church has also partially closed all the temples around the world. See this article for a list of all the closures: "Updates on How COVID-19 Is Impacting Saints Worldwide."

1 comment:

  1. Meanwhile, people confined to their homes may spend more time on!