Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Vault Vednesday: FamilySearch Open House

Cross section of a vault room
Empty vault
Tours included a film

This is another in a series highlighting the Granite Mountain Record Vault (GMRV) and the NGS Family History Conference coming to Salt Lake City, 28 April—1 May 2010.

Vault Rooms

Open house visitors were treated to views of the vault rooms. Each vault room was 27 feet wide and 15 feet tall. The tunnels were lined with heavy corrugated steel and concrete was pumped in to fill the space between the steel and the granite tunnel walls(photo top right).

Drop ceilings hid most of the curvature of the roof. Florescent lighting illuminated work areas. There are indications that vault rooms were empty at the time of the open house (photograph, middle right and subsequent newspaper stories).

In addition to the facilities, tours showed open house visitors a film explaining the purpose of the vault and scenes during vault construction (bottom right).

An apocryphal story states that early, impish employees snuck a firecracker into the vault and set it off. In these contained rooms, the sound of the blast must have been intense, reverberating and echoing in the confined space. Today such a prank would likely result in termination. Vault access is tightly controlled. Public tours are a thing of the past. Workers and private tour visitors are prohibited from taking photographs. Upon seeing these vault articles, FamilySearch officials warned off publication of some vault details that were present in the publications of FamilySearch, International back when it was known as the Genealogical Society of Utah.


2010 NGS Family History ConferenceNGS Conference: FamilySearch Tour

NGS conference attendees this year, in addition to the virtual vault tour and Church History Library tour, are invited to tour the FamilySearch Center in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building (JSMB). The center contains computers and ample personnel to help beginners begin the search for their roots and includes an activity center that will keep children of visitors busy while parents have an opportunity to explore their roots.

For non-beginners, the center has several draws. A recent facelift included installation of an immigration pier photo op, giving visitors an opportunity to generate a keepsake, putting themselves in the context of their immigrant ancestors. And the center offers discount coupons for dining in JSMB restaurants.

Groups can reserve instructional rooms equipped with individual computers and presentation equipment. My family has used these rooms several times for our bi-annual family history reunions.

The JSMB serves as the world headquarters for FamilySearch, International.

The Ancestry Insider arrives at Ellis Island with his trusty dog (or is that a rat?).

While in Salt Lake City for NGS, stop by the FamilySearch Center and get a picture of yourself arriving!

The Ancestry Insider arriving at Ellis Island

Early bird registration must be postmarked by 8 March 2010. There are just 27 days left.
Pre-registration must be postmarked by 12 April 2010. There are just 62 days left.
The conference begins 28 April 2010. There are just 78 days left.


      Dexter Ellis, "Inspection Tours Set for Records Vaults in Canyon," Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah), 30 November 1963, Church News section, p. 3, cols. 2-5; digital images (
.com/newspapers : accessed 25 December 2009). 
     "Church Invites Public To Visit Cottonwood Genealogy Vaults," Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah), 2 December 1963, p. B 5, cols. 6-8; digital images ( : accessed 25 December 2009). Also see “Deep Vaults to Protect Church Files,” Los Angeles Times, 2 December 1963, p. b15; and “Plan to Show Record Vault of Mormons,” Chicago Tribune, 2 December 1963, p. C16.
     "Vault Toured By Church, Civic Leaders," Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah), 3 December 1963, p. 12 B, col. 1; digital images ( : accessed 25 December 2009).
     The Genealogical Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Records Protection in an Uncertain World, 16 p. brochure ([Salt Lake City, Utah: self-published, 1973).
     Lynn Arave, “FamilySearch Unveils New Face and Products,” Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah), 1 October 2009; online archive ( : accessed 7 February 2010).


  1. The NGS Conference logo includes the flags of a number of countries, but it excludes CANADA which is the closest friend of the USA and which is the country likely to have most visitors attending the conference. This is an arrogant insult to your neighbors and friends. Do the conference organizers not have any sense ?

  2. Re: IanW's comment - Not to mention that there was historically a lot of migrations across the border, both ways...

  3. IanW,

    Thank you for your comments (and your persistence). While I don't know how NGS determined the countries to include in the logo, here's how you might find out. Leave a comment/question on the official NGS Conference blog. You can find it at

    I myself have Canadian ancestry. I have a long established policy of not descending from anyone across the big pond. Canada, obviously, does not violate that policy. :-)

    -- The Insider


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