Indexing is More Important Now Than Ever Before

February 4, 2015  - by 

FamilySearch researchers are constantly looking for ways to improve the efficiency of the indexing process, and they are also discovering ways to make better use of indexing work that has already been performed. The results of their research should warm the heart of every person who has ever indexed or arbitrated a batch of records.

If you read the article titled, “Magnifying Volunteers’ Gifts: A Progress Report,” you would recognize some of the innovative ways FamilySearch is making indexing much more efficient. Now there are more exciting developments that make even better use of the records that have already been indexed.

Searching, Hinting, and Descendancy Research

Indexing makes records searchable. You already know that untold thousands of people benefit from what your good work is making possible. As one grateful family researcher put it, “An unindexed record is an unfindable record.” Well, thanks to you and hundreds of thousands of volunteers like you, the days of unindexed records are numbered.

But what if you could get the computer to do the searching for you? What if the computer was bringing your ancestors to you instead of you having to go out and find them yourself? That day is now here thanks to a marvelous new capability on FamilySearch called “hinting.”

Hinting is when the computer looks at the information in your family tree and compares it against the information in the FamilySearch database—all 3 billion+ records! When it finds a record that matches most or all of the information about an ancestor in your tree, it is posted as a “hint” to new information about that person.

Now, how does the computer know that a record is related to one of your ancestors? You guessed it—it’s because someone took the time to index that record!

Maybe you’ve also seen the new descendancy view of your family tree, where you can look at the descendants of your ancestors to find missing cousins. This powerful new feature makes it easy to find the names of relatives who have been lost or forgotten but who belong to your family and in your family tree.

And how is this happening? Again, indexing makes it possible!

Indexing is vital to the future of family history, but now it’s becoming really vital. Like seeds planted in good soil, your indexing efforts are multiplying, and the Internet is being flooded with freely searchable records as a result. Thank you for being one who is making such a huge difference to those who are looking to make those amazing connections to their past.

– Article by Michael Judson

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  1. As I’m working a lot with censuses from my village (Czech Republic) at the moment, I’m pretty sure I’m able to index all of them. Is it possible to index this way?

  2. I have finally the time to begin to help with indexing and I can’t seem to get going – I clicked on “indexing”-then getting started and everything froze up. I clicked on debug and now it’s still frozen. Should I click on “stop black boxing this source”??

    1. Carolyn, it may be beneficial to delete the temporary internet files and cookies on your web browser to help it work more quickly. I would also call or email FamilySearch Research Support at 18664061830 or They would know what the best solution is in that particular situation.

  3. Thank you for all that you do and are doing! I love indexing and the doors it continues to open for people all around the world.

  4. I have enjoyed being able to come and do family history work. I have gained a stronger testimony and gained a better understanding about the what heavenly father has given to us. Because of this i have seen the lord hand in my own life. I have gotten those blessing in doing this. i am so grateful for everything that have learn and going to learn. Continuing on with this will strengthen me and gain a stronger testimony! i am bless to be able to share my stories with you and with others and the example that i can be.