FamilySearch Indexers Share their Stories

August 20, 2012  - by 

In our last newsletter we invited you to share your indexing experiences. Thank you to all who have contributed. We are inspired as we open our mail and read about why you index and the discoveries you’ve made in your own research. Here are some of our favorite comments:

Giving Back

“I have never understood regular family history work. I have tried many times, but it just doesn’t seem to stick in my head very well…. [Indexing] was a way I could help others and maybe even find a few people for our family!” ~ Paula

“I am not LDS, but I had the good fortune to be a volunteer in the [St David Arizona Family History Center in Benson, Arizona,] for a few years. It was there I began indexing and haven’t stopped, other than time out for back surgery. I really do enjoy the task and am fully aware of how much my individual efforts contribute to the store of information for researchers in the future.” ~ Donna

“I felt I needed to give back to others who had done so much to make it easier to do my genealogy, and indexing was helping others find their families. So I am still doing [my genealogy], as well as indexing to give you the chance to do yours.“ ~ Karen

Genealogical Finds

“I am indexing because I want to give back to [FamilySearch] for all of the wonderful information that I have found about my own roots over the past twenty years through the use of the filmstrips from Europe that were made available to me. I have learned through my genealogy work that our roots take us to many countries and not just the direct country from which we think we originated!” ~ Addie

“For five years I tried to discover what happened to Grandma Hannah and her daughter, Elizabeth. Last year, I checked and found someone had indexed the 1850 Quincy, Illinois, census and there they were! I want to give back the great blessing it was to me to find that record. That’s why I index!” ~ Maurine

Motivation to Get Started

“As summer vacation was approaching for my school kids, I decided that since they would have some time on their hands, I would get them excited about something other than TV and video games. I gathered a group of kids together (ages ranging from 10–17), and issued an indexing challenge! The first team of two indexers to reach 2,500 names would get taken out to eat at a fancy restaurant! Well, those tech-savvy kids got busy and between the eight of them, indexed 4,800 names in three and a half days! Callie and Carter were the first team to reach the 2,500-name goal, and so they won the fabulous dinner out! All of the kids got to come to a banana split party at our house for participating. All eight kids now have a great new hobby!” ~ Jennifer

“I started indexing in earnest when I found I was going to deal with my third round of cancer in two years. Now I am now taking chemo treatments for cancer spots in my left lung. I have indexed over 3,000 names since I started in March. I index while waiting for my rides; I index while watching my favorite shows and my favorite baseball team (the Giants); and I index just for fun. I know for a fact I am being blessed because of this wonderful and fun opportunity!!!” ~ Diane

Indexing as a Matchmaker?

“On March 23rd a 68-year-old male in Palmyra, New York, and a 70-year-old female in Lake City, Florida, met [online]. We started talking on Skype. We started indexing as we talked for hours at a time. On April 10 we got engaged. We got married on June 2nd. During our talks we were able to complete over 14,000 names and got to know each other.” ~ Claude and Carolyn


We hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into our inbox. What a pleasure it is to work with so many talented and dedicated people as we make billions of records searchable for each other. Keep up the good work, and keep sending your stories to us at

Watch for more stories from indexers like you in future newsletters.

This article was written by Debbie McPheters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. I have been working on my family history and came into a lull, when I started indexing hoping to possibly find ancestors. I became very interested in finding other histories and needless to say, did not find any of mine, but hope I have helped others. In doing so, Father has blessed me with other information that I have been looking for

  2. Indexing Texas Death Certificates was very eye-opening for me. Just the amount of childbirth related deaths was overwhelming. My Grandma used to get worried any time one of us went into labor, and now I can understand why a little better. It was a very possible reality back in her day. Also, she used to worry about my kids going out and getting pneumonia. I used to think that she was just fussy/ Mind you I loved her and never told her that, but looking through those death records, a lot of people did die from pneumonia. I miss my Grandma <3

    1. This story brought a tear to my eyes.

      I have not indexed yet, but really do want to start eventually.

      I love the stories behind the history. We learn so much from our past.

  3. It was fun looking at the 1940 census, to find out where my dad, his sister and her family, and their brother were living at in 1940. My dad and his sister and her family were living on a farm just east of a farm that my dad later bought in 1946; he lived on the farm he bought in 1946 until about two weeks before he died in 2003, and his sister and her family sold their farm (date unknown) and moved away; their brother was stationed in Honolulu in 1940, as he was in the army. I also found where my mom, her parents and some of her siblings were living at in 1940; plus, I saw the names of several people who were my neighbors and friends and where they were living in 1940. Can’t wait to do the 1950 census in ten years.

  4. One of the blessings of the 1940 census was finding my Mother was the census taker. I did not know she had ever done that. Seeing her handwriting many years after her death was more exciting then finding myself at age one on that census.

  5. I have been indexing since the time we used the old film strip machines. I try to do about 5 hours a day. I love it. I am 85 years old and can’t do many other thngs, because of my health. My goal is to do one half of a million names before I die. I have about 50,000 to do. I wasn’t able to serve a mission, so I have made this my mission. I am a wodow & feel this is the way to accomplish something each day. Edith Clegg, Spokane, WA

  6. Indexing 1940, Seattle, WA – In the Masonic Home For The Elderly, I ran across Leona Ricksecker, my piano teacher in Garfield, WA in 1937-1938. What a thrill. She was a special lady.

  7. I was indexing a 1939 passenger list from Brussels, Belgium. The last name was written so that I could not tell which was the surname and which was the given name. At the side, it said “Peruvian Minister”. So, I decided to Google it-tried 1939 peruvian minister and got nothing. So I put in the name that I had and Voila!! The name was written backwards for my indexing needs, BUT I found information on him that was in several books. He was at the US Embassy in Japan in Jan 1941 when he told an American Embassy man that he had heard that Japan was getting ready to attack the US if they didn’t leave them alone…more or less. The man told the head of the Embassy and they wired it back to Washington D.C. Washington decided that the information was not valid and decided to do nothing about it! Sometimes we find amazing things while indexing. These people were REAL and their lives were important in the whole scheme of things.

  8. I joined indexing in June 2010 @ the same time I have my calling as temple worker..I was set apart and was given a duty from 2pm to 10pm every Friday. I am doing indexing during Sunday after church service.The same year of my calling and as a volunteer indexer , my husband died of enlargement of the heart in August 10.It was so painful but I need to do my part as volunteer indexer.GOD was so good that he loves me so much,he never left me alone up to now. We at the Church of JESUS CHRIST of LATTER DAY SAINTS members were so lucky that we found the true church on earth. The only thing we can do is to embrace the commandments of GOD…hold tight to the Iron rod……I love indexing so much! Keep on indexing! Thanks to all of us here as indexer !

  9. I have been a volunteer indexer for this site since late last year. The first few months were really a struggle. I almost gave up on this endeavor; but I have a passion for records keeping, being a university librarian for 18 yrs. And so I persisted amidst difficulties and frustrations (though the invitation for volunteer indexers says : it is easy; (not really) I found it out. The rewards are so many; not only emotionally and intellectually; I have become better in deciphering hard to read handwriting.. it is so gratifying that i don’t have to struggle with it. The people, places, and events, touched my humanity, I never imagined. Lastly, it is very therapeutic, and very rewarding knowing I am part of this history making and preservation.

  10. I started German Extraction in 1981. Then I did Extraction on the Computer and was the Stake Computer director in the 1990’s. I started indexing as soon as it was possible to index from the internet and have been an arbitrator for most of that time. I love the work and have even found some of my families from Pennsylvania in the 1880 census. I have indexed or orbitrated over 700,000 names and I feel that it is something an old woman can do to contribute to the work. I love it.

  11. I have been indexing since about this time last year and have found it both rewarding and fascinating, as well. I did much withe the 1940 census as well, to help get that completed.

    My biggest issue (as is the case with many indexers) are many of the arbitrators, who do not bother to read or follow the rules for various projects, incorrectly update information that was indexed correctly to begin with, or don’t bother to verify that place-name spellings have been corrected, and simply put back what is on the document, even tho indexers have corrected the spelling.

    It is maddening and frustrating that so many in that position seem to lack basic common sense and the ability to read (or dont bother to read the project directions). I have read on other blogs that Indexers are opting to quit, due to their frustration of having their hard work butchered (and their results score being lowered due to this carelessness by the arbs.

    Hopefully, there will be a real shakedown, to get rid of arbitrators that cannot or will not do the proper job, and replace them with people who have at heart.

    1. As an indexer and arbitrator I feel a great deal of empathy with those whose best efforts were butchered by a careless arbitrator. But there are several opportunities to become trapped, and thus become a victim. One of them is assuming something that is not specifically shown in the record (as assuming the birth country is the same as the country of allegience). Don’t assume. Another is the spelling of names. If we’re doing place names, correcting the names (but not introducing what is possibly a new one) is permissable; if names of persons be very careful about changing what is written, because what is written is very likely what the person intended. Also expanding abbreviated names; places, yes. Names (as in Wm) no.
      Keep up the good work, and don’t worry too much about a low score. A hundred percent and two dollars will buy you a latte.

  12. I think this website has some really good information for everyone . The test of every religious, political, or educational system is the man that it forms. by Henri Frdric Amiel.

  13. As I understand this program, it looks like one doesn’t have to be a member of the church to become and indexer. Is this true? I just invited a family contact to become an indexer, she is not LDS. Hoping I didn’t send her on a wild goose chase.