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The City Journals

Riverton FamilySearch Library expands genealogy classes

Oct 28, 2016 01:28PM ● By Tori LaRue

Riverton Family Search Library is offering free family history classes to the public. (Pixabay)

By Tori La Rue | [email protected] 

Riverton, Utah - The Riverton FamilySearch Library is expanding its outreach program by bringing their family history classes to senior centers and libraries in Murray, Riverton and Draper. 

“I was out there trying to find someone who would teach genealogy classes because there is a need and an interest for seniors to have this research,” said Maureen Gallagher, program coordinator for the Murray Heritage Center. “It took me quite a while because everyone wanted to charge for the classes, but then I was referred to the LDS church library. It’s been wonderful.” 

Upon hearing Gallagher’s request, The FamilySearch Library, a genealogy research center located at 3740 West Market Center Drive in Riverton and owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, created an outreach team to teach community members how to store, access and retrieve family trees, records and pictures for free. 

Instructors at the FamilySearch Library modified their original classes intended for an LDS audience by removing the church’s jargon to create a “nondenominational atmosphere” suitable for any community member, according to Glen Sisam, a FamilySearch outreach trainer. 

“We realized we should broaden our audience,” Sisam said. “There’s a huge surge of interest, and family history affects everyone in varying degrees, so we realized we needed to think outside of the box to take it to everyone.” 

The Heritage Center’s seven-member classes filled up during the more than 15 sessions offered beginning in January, so the FamilySearch Library partnered with the Draper Senior Center, Draper Library, Riverton Library and Riverton Senior Center to expand their outreach program. 

Draper Senior Center and Riverton Library classes began in October. Draper Library and Riverton Senior Center Classes begin in November. 

Riverton Library classes have since been cancelled for lack of attendance, but Sisam said he hopes to continue them in the future after more people catch wind of the outreach program. 

The genealogy courses are offered in beginning and intermediate levels, and Sisam said he believes even family history experts can learn from the workshops.

“I’ve been in family history work for a long time, and there have been more dramatic changes in three or four years than in my entire life,” Sisam said. “The internet is exploding with research opportunities.” 

FamilySearch’s programing offers the largest collection of genealogical and historical records in the world and connects users with its 80 partners, but it can be intimidating to use without some know-how, Sasim said. 

“It’s like drinking from a fire hose, but we can help with that,” he added. 

Unlike the classes at the FamilySearch center, which might have 50 participants, the outreach classes generally have between seven and 14 participants, allowing for individualized attention. Participants can come to the class one or two times and continue their genealogy study alone using the tools FamilySearch provides, or they can come again and again to seek input and instruction.  

FamilySearch applications allow users to build their own family trees, view family descendants, connect with living relatives and sync photos, journal entries and record documents. 

Gallagher said she believes FamilySearch’s outreach is a benefit to the community. 

“You might not know about your family, and this is a way to get someone in the shoes of their ancestors from the 1800s,” Gallagher said. “I think it is empowering. I think it is good for mental health and connects you to a bigger picture.” 

To find out places, dates and times of classes visit To suggest a new location for classes, contact Sasim at 801-205-3242.