A Call to Arms (and Hands and Fingers!)

May 27, 2015  - by 

A call to arms, hands, and fingers
Article Summary:

  • The need for indexed records in non-English languages has grown significantly.
  • Stake indexing directors in English-speaking stakes are requested to help in several ways.
  • FamilySearch announces a new non-English indexing initiative for English and non-English speakers.
  • New projects and training materials will soon be available in French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.


Dear Stake Indexing Director,

FamilySearch.org offers well over three billion searchable records to help English-speaking Church members find their ancestors. This bountiful supply of family records is helping to fuel an unprecedented increase in family history and temple work in English-speaking countries.

Would it surprise you to know that this is more than 20 times the number of searchable records available on FamilySearch.org for all other languages combined?! In some languages and for many countries, there are no searchable records on FamilySearch.org at all.

Can anything be done to help our brothers and sisters around the world receive more indexed records so they can more easily find their ancestors and take their names to the temple? More important, is there anything you can do to help make this blessing available to Church members in other countries? The answer to both questions is a resounding “YES!”

Computers, the Internet, and indexed records are gifts from our Heavenly Father, given to hasten His work in our day. Where these tools are readily available, the work is increasing accordingly. Where they are not readily available, the work is severely hindered despite valiant and diligent efforts on the part of Church leaders and members.

There Is Something We Can Do

In pioneer times, those who lacked the means to emigrate were blessed by a revolving trust known as the Perpetual Emigration Fund. Endowed by those with means and perpetuated by those who, in gratitude, repaid what they could to help other needy immigrants, the fund ultimately enabled thousands of people to gather to Salt Lake City, Utah.

In our day, a similar fund provides loans that allow eligible individuals to receive an education. The Perpetual Education Fund has given thousands the means they need to learn and then earn their way to a higher standard of living. These inspired examples of creative problem-solving show what is possible when one group is blessed with an abundance and a sincere desire to help.

If we view the lack of searchable records as a form of poverty, it is easy to see how those who have been blessed with an abundance of technology and non-English language skills can make a powerful contribution to helping their brothers and sisters in need.

How You Can Help

There are undoubtedly those in your stake who speak a non-English language with native proficiency. These individuals may be indexing already. If so, please encourage them to continue indexing as much as possible in their native language. If you know of people in your stake with native language skills who are not indexing, please do all you can to encourage them to begin indexing.

In addition, we ask that you do the following:

  1. Please make your stake leaders aware of the need for indexed records in non-English languages so they can encourage members with skills in other languages to consider indexing. Then help these members become productive indexers.
  2. Consider other members who have had significant training in a second language. Returned missionaries are prime examples of individuals who may possess the necessary skills or who can develop the necessary skills to index effectively in a non-English language. Please ask your stake leaders to include this group among those who should be considered for a special invitation to index.
  3. New training materials will soon be available for members who lack skills in non-English languages. Inform your priesthood leaders of this training, and encourage them to invite any who are willing to learn how to index specific types of records in another language. (See below for more details.)
  4. Encourage your English-speaking volunteers who are not comfortable indexing or learning to index in other languages to continue indexing and arbitrating English records. The need for English records is not diminished by the increasing need for records in other languages.

In Wisdom and in Order

King Benjamin counseled that giving should be done “in wisdom and in order,” saying, “It is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength” (Mosiah 4:27). Rather than an “all hands on deck” request for non-English indexing help, a more prudent call is for “the right hands.” Please understand that volunteers who are willing are not enough—these must be willing volunteers with sufficient language skills or those who have received the right kind of training.

To accomplish this work in an orderly fashion, FamilySearch is targeting Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Italian in 2015 and, in June, will launch specially identified beginning indexing projects in each of these languages, along with specially prepared training materials. These materials will be available to stake indexing directors shortly after the stake indexing director webinar on June 16.

For Those Willing to Learn to Index in a Non-English Language

FamilySearch has a long recommended that indexers work only in their native language or in languages in which they have near-native proficiency. An exception to this policy exists in cases where individuals have had special training from FamilySearch that qualifies them to index limited types of records in a language they do not generally speak or read. This is the case for a number of people who have been trained to index post-1875 Italian birth and death records. If you have volunteers who are involved in this effort or others like it, please encourage them to continue.

For others who are willing to learn how to index non-English records, FamilySearch indexing is pleased to announce an expansion of its language training program. Beginning in August 2015, formal training from FamilySearch representatives will be available to help English-speaking volunteers learn how to index specific types of records in French, Spanish, and Portuguese, in addition to the existing Italian training program. Trainers and training locations will be announced later. Please work with your priesthood leaders to invite all who are willing to receive this training.

If you have language experts in your stake who can be called to assist in this work, you are welcome to use the materials to establish your own training program at any time. As always, basic indexing instructions and project instructions are to be closely followed, and stake or ward indexing leaders should stay in regular touch with volunteers to ensure the quality of their work.

Thank you for your continuing efforts to hasten this part of the Lord’s work! Additional communication will soon be provided on this subject through the SID newsletter and in the upcoming SID webinar. With the Lord’s help, your efforts, and those of your volunteers, lives will be blessed, and the pace of the work will hasten significantly around the world and on both sides of the veil!

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  1. Is the language training online? I help teach indexing in a district far from Salt Lake City’s resources. Will it work here too?

  2. The first request is to “Please make your stake leaders aware of the need for indexed records in non-English languages so they can encourage members with skills in other languages to consider indexing.” The difficulty with this is that we cannot “identify members with skills in foreign languages.” I am a ward clerk and the membership system has the information needed, but there is no way to extract it into a list. What is needed is a way to list all members in a stake who went to a foreign mission or were born in a foreign country.

  3. My German is rusty – is there helps for me to be a part of this?
    also, I am fluent in Japanese, but I read only Romaji and not Kanji. Are the records in Romaji? If so then I can help there.

  4. Is there any reason why those that are from another country could not be called as second language family indexing leader. This could help to get others to index in a second language. I would love to learn a second language. Anything to help the Lords work to move forward. Please consider this suggestion and check it out for using to help the work move forward.

  5. Why can I not print this article? I would like to share it with our Stake President and other leaders but it will not print. HELP!!!

    1. Stephania, at the bottom of the article before the comments there is a blue button that says “Print Article”. Click on that and your print menu should come up!

  6. I want to learn to index in French. I know some French from college classes. I was unable to make it to your Nov. 29 training session. Will there be another session? I really want to do this.


  7. For many years I indexed and arbitrated Spanish records very successfully. After a move, I am now ready to continue but I see that things have changed substantially. I am able to understand some Spanish, but not the instructions. Are there projects that I may take on with English instructions as there once was.

  8. Would like to attend class in Spanish, however this week January 8, already have a commitment. Is it online, also? I can make arrangements to attend February class, if I haven’t missed the first part/lesson.

  9. I speak Portuguese and English. I am already working on Portuguese index. My ancestors are from Italy. I tried, and I was able to index some Italian records. Can I have the link for Italian Index’s material? Thank you

  10. I always index and review lots in Spanish. And I’ll continue doing it. Thank you for inviting me to participate in that training, but at that time I cannot attend. Count on my help in the Spanish language.