Yesterday, the following invitation was made to all Church employees. I thought it was worth passing along:
You may have already heard the news.
Last year was an exciting year for FamilySearch indexing. In 2010, more than 127,000 volunteers worked together to index nearly 200 million records. Their dedicated work has opened archives and record collections on an unprecedented scale. Records that were once difficult to see or even find are now available on any home computer with Internet access.
While these numbers are impressive, they’re not the real story. Every single record documents an important event, a moment, maybe even a lifetime, of meaning to real people—a birth, a marriage, a death. Some of these people, perhaps, were your family, your very own ancestors!
As exciting as it was, last year’s achievement isn’t enough. At the rate of 200 million records a year, it would take over 100 years to index the estimated 2.5 million rolls of microfilm in the Church’s Granite Mountain Records Vault—not to mention the 100 million new digital images added to the collection each year. Clearly, many more volunteers are needed to move this essential work forward.
FamilySearch Indexing Simplifies Family Research
Just a few decades ago, family history research was often complex, requiring much time and other resources to locate, access, and search records carefully. Many record collections were simply unavailable.
Today, using digital images downloaded to personal computers, volunteers from all over the world collaborate to create indexes of record collections. Records are indexed in small batches that take relatively brief amounts of time, so, in a spare half hour here and there, volunteers complete a monumental work in a few days or weeks.
Enthusiastic about a recent project, Jan Davenport, former president of the Arkansas Genealogical Society, exclaimed, “This project would be impossible without the help of FamilySearch. [We had] 120 years of marriages for 75 counties. It would take a hundred years for a few volunteers to do.” FamilySearch indexers completed the project Davenport mentioned in just three years, while working on many other projects at the same time. As a result of their collaborative efforts, these and other indexes provide easy worldwide access to historical collections, often in searches that take only seconds.
How to Help
To begin indexing, go to http://indexing.familysearch.org and click on the blue Test Drive link on the right side of the page. Once you've finished the Test Drive, which allows users to practice indexing a record, click Done. Then click on the Get Started link. Follow the instructions to install the indexing program. Then click on the indexing icon on your desktop and login, using your LDS Account. You will begin with a few short, simple projects to help you learn the process. When you’re ready to move on, you can choose from a number of projects from around the world, according to your interests and language abilities.
A typical batch doesn’t take long to do—usually 30 minutes or less. If you can’t finish the batch in the time you have, you can always close the program and finish later. Your work is saved automatically. If you don’t have time to complete the batch in a week or so, then someone else will finish it for you. There’s no need to worry. Each person just does what he or she can.
These records help people across the world do their family history; they can also help you. By participating in FamilySearch indexing for just a few minutes each day or week, you make a significant contribution. You may find, as others have, that indexing a little bit each week brings unique power and focus to your life. You may find yourself on an exciting adventure as you glimpse details from the lives of real people from different places and times. You may also find, in newly available collections, records that help you take the next step in discovering your own family history.