For those of you who are unfamiliar with FamilySearch Indexing, let me give you a little background. Genealogy (not geology) is a huge part of the Church's history and beliefs. Since the mid-1800s, the Church has made an ambitious effort to collect and categorize billions (with a b) of genealogical records from around the world. These records are available for anyone to view in the form of microfilm (little plastic rolls of images that can be magnified on a screen). However, there are a couple of problems with trying to research microfilm records: (1) you have to get a copy of the actual microfilm and use a microfilm reader, and (2) even when you have the film, you need to manually search through the microfilm for any records that may pertain to you. Searching through microfilm can be a painstaking (I like that word) and time-consuming process. Fortunately, that is where FamilySearch Indexing comes in!
|Microfilm readers: all the rage in 1933.|
For the past six years, hundreds of thousands of volunteers (both Mormon and non-Mormon alike) have been going through the Church's genealogical records and "indexing" the names from the records. "Indexing" is very simple: you download a screenshot of records (for example, one page of the 1930 U.S. Federal Census) through the Indexing software. Then, on a line-by-line basis, you "index" the names, ages, occupations, birth counties, etc. for each of the individuals on the page. Once you have completed the page, you submit it to be reviewed by an experienced indexer (called an "arbitrator", which coincidentally sounds like a type of vehicle that Luke Skywalker would fly).
|Indexing page example from the 1930s U.S. Federal Census.|
Since 2006 indexing volunteers have indexed more than 2.5 billion names, but there are still billions and billions more records to go. My local Church stake (a "stake" is a group of about 10 neighborhood congregations called "wards") of approximately 3,000 people has a goal for 2012 to index 2 million names! That is a crazy huge number for one stake, but we know it is possible. Last year we had a stake goal to index 750,000 names and we ended up indexing about 900,000. Anyone can sign up to be an indexer at the FamilySearch Indexing Volunteer website. You can index as much or as little as you would like, and there is no pressure to index more than you feel comfortable doing. Personally, I love indexing because it makes me feel like I am contributing to a good cause, even if I can only do it for 15 minutes at a time. And NOW as of two days ago, there is a brand-new Indexing iPhone app!
The great part about the app is that you can do one name anywhere anytime. Let's say you are in the Walmart checkout line on a Saturday night. You are at least five people back in line and the lady in front of you has 45 cans of vegetables that need to be individually scanned. So, you decide to pull out your iPhone to kill some time. Instead of playing Angry Birds, checking Facebook, or reading the Huffington Post while you wait, you could choose to index a name or two. Time will fly by, you will be a better person for your unselfish contribution of your time, and you'll be next in line at the register before you know it. Check out the app and give it a try--you won't regret it!
|Indexing record for Thomas Brown.|