The Importance of Index Reviewing

January 6, 2020  - by 

Searchable records are a huge part of what makes family history research possible. A lot happens to a record from the time it is found in the basement of an old municipal building or some other place to the moment it is published online for you to find. Indexing is one of those very important steps, but what comes next is equally important.

Reviewing is the quality check that takes place after a record is indexed. Batches of indexed records must go through this step before they can be published.

The Reviewer behind the Index

Reviewing is an essential step in making records searchable on—and it’s possible only because of the indexing reviewers. Three reviewers from around the world shared with us some of the reasons they participate in this great effort.*

 Mauro Favilli, Yvonne Graves, and Janaina Nunes de Oliveira
Mauro Favilli (left) is from Pescara, Italy. Yvonne Graves (center) is from Maryland, United States. Janaina Nunes de Oliveira (right) is from Piauí, Brazil.

Why do you think index reviewing is important?

Mauro: Accuracy and fussiness are fundamental skills of those who work to make the memory of our ancestors available to the world. Any error should be corrected and every detail considered. The good reviewer checks the annotations in the margin of the records and the adjustments at the bottom and tries to learn the handwriting style of those who drafted the documents.

Janaina: In Mosiah 2:17, it says that when we are serving our neighbor, we are only serving our God. For me, reviewing indexes is a work of salvation and shows love for our neighbor, making it so we can be closer to the Savior.

Yvonne: I think reviewing is important because you want these records to be as accurate as possible.

Why do you choose to review?

Mauro: I really care about the accuracy of the information. When I am able to review documents of cities and regions where I was born or lived, I feel comfortable in knowing the places, families, municipalities, or hamlets that made up the territory. I think it is right to restore dignity and consideration to those who sometimes have not had them in life—abandoned orphans, soldiers who died in war, immigrants, or people who lived in poverty—and find the place and the consideration those people deserve.

Janaina: I choose to review because there are many more indexers than reviewers. As reviewers, we have the chance to increase the number of searchable records, helping more people to be able to find their ancestors. The review is a collective effort to help all of Heavenly Father’s children.

Yvonne: Over the years, I’ve enjoyed indexing and just thought I’d give reviewing a try. Now I like that as well as the indexing.

What blessings or benefits have you seen from reviewing?

A mother helps her child on the computer

Mauro: Innumerable blessings. I feel the flow of history. I live lives that are not mine. I become aware of otherwise unimaginable realities.

Janaina: Indexing review is a sanctification process. Also, as it says in Doctrine and Covenants 88:73, “Behold, I will hasten my work in its time.” I am helping in a work that magnifies me, increases my decision-making capacity, and brings me closer to my Savior.

Yvonne: I like knowing that I’m helping somebody out there.

Do you have any positive or uplifting experiences with reviewing or FamilySearch that you would like to share?

Mauro: In one case, after having indexed or reviewed 27,000 documents, I was able to find one of my ancestors who had escaped my memory. Paolo Andreucci, my ancestor, now has a family in heaven to which he will soon be sealed.

Fortaleza Brazil Temple

Janaina: Besides finding most of my ancestors through this wonderful system called FamilySearch, I also have the spirit of the Lord closest to me, and I can help other people to find their ancestors. I recently had a very uplifting experience. I wanted to go to the Fortaleza Brazil Temple on September 20, 2019, but I didn’t have ancestor names to submit. Then I remembered that I could use the FamilySearch system to try find any name, and suddenly I found a lot of them! I felt such a joy because I know my Savior lives and loves us so much. He knows that every day I try to do my best.

Yvonne: One of my favorite records to index or review are the draft records. I call these records my soldier boys.

Who Can Review?

Volunteers are granted the ability to review batches once they have indexed 1,000 records on the web indexing system. This requirement is intended to give volunteers time to become familiar with web indexing and many types of projects before they begin reviewing.

Once volunteers have review rights, they are encouraged to do both activities, indexing and reviewing. Both activities are vital to publishing these records and making them searchable.

*Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

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  1. I like reviewing because I am a slow typist. I am more productive reviewing than indexing. Also, because I am older and know script I am a good reviewer for people that are less familiar with it.

  2. I have loved indexing and arbitration (now reviewing) for years. there is a great challenge and reward to make each record as correct as possible.

  3. I had to stop indexing after completing a few hundred records. I was frustrated! I had no way to communicate my very detailed analysis on a few difficult records in almost every batch. I couldn’t communicate with the other indexer or reviewer so they would know of my exhaustive search for some fields in hard to read records in almost every batch. I often spent many hours on a single field or two of hard to read records so I knew 100% that what I was submitting was totally correct. When I was stumped, I would search, and many internet databases until I found the questionable information before submitting the batch. It would be easy for the reviewer to side with the other indexer and totally nullify my exhaustive research.

    Please modify the Indexing program so indexers can cite sources on hard to read fields and records and communicate that exhaustive research to the Reviewer.

    1. We are having indepth discussions on this very topic with many of our most experienced indexers. This is an excellent suggestion and we are looking at it very seriously. The decision to add this feature or not will be based on determining the expected usage of the feature and the expected value overall. Your comment has sparked a vigorous discussion. Thank you so much for the excellent work you are doing.

  4. I personally love reviewing. We are all human and make mistakes and two or more sets of eyes are better than one. The only criticism I have is that reviewers sometimes also make mistakes, such as assuming that a real town name does not exist. I ran into that with Cape May Court House which does not sound as though it is a city, but is. The reviewer changed it to Cape May. Sometimes it pays to Google just to be on the safe side.

    1. I have been using Google for years to help verify information being indexed/reviewed. I have used Google ONLY AS A TOOL. Many a time, the recorded information may have been misspelled or mis-dated and I’ve corrected these errors, but I have to step back and remember the instructions for this batch which says – Do not correct or assume ….. index and/or review what is on the document and let the family member looking for this information/family member make that decision. I have to daily remind myself that “I am only transferring the written information to make it READABLE to the best I am able.

  5. Is there a tutorial so I know I have checked all the boxes in reviewing? I think the web indexing is different than the old way.

    1. Once you complete over 1000 indexed records you will begin seeing the Review button when you look for a batch to index or review. Has this not been happening?