Wednesday, September 8, 2010

FamilySearch, Football and Milestones

This past week, I indexed my 11,000th name at FamilySearch Indexing. Add that to the amount of names I’ve arbitrated and the total is just shy of 34,000 names. I am proud of the accomplishment despite the fact that it generates sweeping revelations about my social life.

How did I get to this milestone? Football. I watch football all weekend long. College or pro, it doesn't matter. While I am watching all this football, I download some batches and key like a fiend. This is because my favorite football teams are hard to watch. It’s better to keep my eyes on the computer. If my teams do poorly, my indexing stats go up.

Are you considering learning how to index, but not sure where to start? First you need to sign up at the FamilySearch Indexing page if you don’t already have an account with them. It is free and you do not need to be a member of the LDS church (I am not). You also have to download something, but the instructions are easy to follow.

FamilySearch produced a nice presentation that shows what you will be doing. Click here and watch the Indexing tutorial. 

Then you will download a “batch” of names. The number of names in a batch depends on the records you are indexing. I like to do U.S. census pages, so my batches are 1 census sheet, which holds 50 names. I've also done batches of 10 death certificates. There are more challenging batches too, such as records in other languages and early historical items where the handwriting is more difficult to read. If you are bilingual, you would really be an asset to FamilySearch Indexing.

The first batch I ever did took some time to figure out. But you know what? I got through it and asked for a second one. It took less time. It gets easier. If you've ever seen a spreadsheet, you'll recognize the format for indexing names.

Though the task is repetitive, I never get bored. For a time, I indexed death certificates. No two were the same and each one made me think about the person and his or her story. I wanted to get the information down correctly so these folks wouldn’t be forgotten and others could find them.

I really enjoy indexing U.S. census records. There’s a method to my madness and I can get through them in a clip. Like the death certificates, I also study the names on the records and wonder what their stories are. Only a genealogist would get emotionally attached to records, right?

One thing that surprised me about indexing is how it helped me become a better reader of handwriting. Another surprise is how much I use my high school Spanish to index certain names, especially now because I am indexing Texas records.

About six months ago, FamilySearch asked me to be an arbitrator for their indexing projects. What’s that, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you in part 2.

[Note: FamilySearch did not compensate me for this post. I’m just a chick with an affinity for data entry and mediocre football teams.]


  1. LOL. "Only a genealogist would get emotionally attached to records..." My name is Caroline Pointer and I get emotionally attached to records, especially death certificates. The stories they tell, right? Glad to know I'm not the only one. Antique stores with a lot of ephemera are bad for me too.


  2. Kudos to you. Can you choose what you want to index? I am interested in particular Italian towns, for example. Anyway, I know what you mean about getting emotional, even when helping people who aren't my family.

  3. Good question, Astrid. Can you choose what you want to index? The answer is yes and no. You can choose from the types of records currently being indexed at FamilySearch. However, you can't just choose a town out of the blue.

    Today, for example, you could index records from Trento, Italy: baptisms 1784-1924. When that record group is done, you might find something else from Italy. It depends on what comes next down the FamilySearch pipeline.

    There are lots of countries listed in the indexing section now. Also all kinds of records: birth, marriage, death, census, you name it.

  4. Great article! Check out the places all those resources can be accessed. Take a sneak peek!

    Click a geographical area to see available resources.



  5. Thanks for helping push me over the hump to get started, Amy! I posted about my first experience at the blog - .

  6. I too am at the 30,000 mark for indexing and arbitration. I love the work also. And do get emotionally attached. I like you especially enjoy the death records and feel the pain, when it is someone young or a tragic death. The blessings are immeasurable from doing this work and I feel the presence of those passed on helping me to get the names and dates right. They care, so I care.

  7. Thanks for commenting on my blog Amy!

    I've had a bit of a break from blogging and FamilySearch indexing lately but am glad to be getting back to both and it's nice to connect with like-minded people.

    I've a way to go to reach your numbers but am glad to be contributing and would again encourage other genealogists to give FamilySearch indexing a try. It's actually pretty good fun!