As an avid genealogist, I spend a lot of time looking for family history information on the Internet. I had been looking for the names of three of my husband’s four sets of great-grandparents for about ten years. One day at church, a friend mentioned newly updated digital records on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ free site, familysearch.org. Later that day, I typed the information I had on one of Anthony’s grandparents into the FamilySearch and Voila! Birth and death certificates and marriage records of unknown ancestors appeared! In 3 hours, I found 10 generations on two of his family lines, and we found ancestors for another line through the 1600’s! Indexing made this digital treasure trove possible for me!
What is Indexing?
Indexing is the process of reading digitized versions of physical records — such as census, vital, probate and church records — and typing the information they contain into an online searchable database. Through this work, indexing volunteers make it possible for members and other family history researchers to easily locate their ancestors’ information on the Internet.
So, a volunteer, sitting at his or her computer, looked at a digital copy of a birth certificate, typed out the names and dates from the birth certificate into an easy to use program and hit save. At some later point, a second person verified the inputted information’s accuracy and the information published, so that when I searched for that person, his name, and the digital copy of his birth certificate popped up.
One of the great things about indexing is a view into the past. Ships’ passenger lists especially intrigue me. People from multiple origins converged onto a single ship. I love to read the small glimpses into their lives and backgrounds. Obituaries interest me, too. I love the quick biographies of the person’s family, interests, religious affiliations, and social involvement.
Who can Index?
Everyone is invited to index records! Indexing is easy enough for children to do. FamilySearch volunteers are available for questions via chat or telephone. I began indexing last year when our local congregations made a lofty goal to complete 2 million indexed names in 2013. I found I could index during a 15 minute break or even while watching television in the evenings. My personal indexing goals are tracked on my login and then the world’s efforts are tracked on https://familysearch.org/indexing/. Here are the indexing statistics as of April 7, 2014.
What are Indexing Projects?
Indexing projects are collections of scanned images that need to be transcribed. Projects are differentiated by language and image type. For example, I could choose to index a project containing German marriage records or Portuguese birth records or English obituary records. Each project is divided into manageable batches containing several records to index. After selecting a project, I choose the number of batches to download, index and then submit the records contained in each batch.
You can update your preferences to specific types of projects.
Benefits of Indexing
I loved helping our congregation surpass our 2013 goal, but one of the main reasons I started indexing was because of the amazing breakthrough I had on our family lines.
Another reason to index is for promised spiritual blessings.
Elder Richard G. Scott shared the following story and promised blessing,
“In the Russia Rostov-na-Donu Mission the youth were invited to each index 2,000 names and then qualify at least one name from their own families for temple ordinances. Those who accomplished this goal were invited to go on a long journey to the new Kyiv Ukraine Temple. One young man shared his experience: “I was spending a lot of time playing computer games. When I started indexing, I didn’t have time to play games. At first I thought, ‘Oh no! How can that be!’ When this project was over, I even lost interest in gaming. … Genealogical work is something that we can do here on earth, and it will remain in heaven.”
Together we can and will accomplish the required work…This work is a spiritual work, a monumental effort of cooperation on both sides of the veil, where help is given in both directions. Anywhere you are in the world, with prayer, faith, determination, diligence, and some sacrifice, you can make a powerful contribution. Begin now. I promise you that the Lord will help you find a way. And it will make you feel wonderful.
Elder David A. Bednar promised teenagers
“As you respond in faith to this invitation, your hearts shall turn to the fathers. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be implanted in your hearts. Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives.”
At one point, I didn’t want to index because I thought it would take away too much time from researching my own family. Whenever and however we serve the Lord, He always fills our cups to overflowing. In Luke 6:38, Jesus Christ promised that all efforts are beneficial,
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
Indexing is easy and fun with long-lasting results!
To find out more or to start indexing, go to FamilySearch.org/indexing.