Joan lives in the United States. She has seven complete generations in her family tree and many other branches that extend even further. Lucky for her, most of her ancestors come from English-speaking countries. As a result, she has documented sources for most of her direct lines, and last week in just a couple of hours she added 30 new sources from record hints and added two new people to her family tree. She’s having a hard time keeping up with it all. Needless to say, Joan is really happy.
Now meet Ingrid.
Ingrid lives in Germany. Her family tree includes her parents and three of her four grandparents. No one seems to know anything about her paternal grandmother. Ingrid has never received a record hint for anyone in her family tree and can’t find anything new on any of her lines. She wants to know more about her family, but she is at a dead end. Ingrid is pretty discouraged.
Sadly, Ingrid is not alone. Last week, Francesca, who lives in Italy, tried searching for her ancestors as well. So did Maria, who lives in Honduras; Hiroko, from Japan; and brothers Jose and Pablo, from Mexico. All got the same result.
What’s Going on Here?
Of the more than 3.5 billion searchable records on FamilySearch.org, more than 90 percent are from English-speaking countries. To put that in perspective, searchable records in English outnumber the combined total of searchable records in all other languages 20 to 1.
Does Joan need more searchable records in her language? Sure she does. There are plenty more to be discovered and many more things to learn about her family. But compared to Ingrid, and Francesca, and Hiroko, and the others, Joan is living in the lap of luxury. Is this fair? Absolutely not. Can anything be done about it? Most definitely!
A Call to Arms (and Hands and Fingers!)
Indexed records are the key to helping people find their ancestors. Searching, record hints, and descendancy research all require indexed records.
FamilySearch indexing is launching a concerted effort aimed at narrowing the gap between the number of searchable records in English and those available in all other languages. Every volunteer and potential volunteer out there who is already fluent in a second language is needed to help index records in that language. Especially needed are volunteers who are comfortable working in French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.
The efforts of the faithful indexers from these countries must be joined by willing volunteers from the English-speaking world in order to move this effort forward at an acceptable pace.
To be very clear, FamilySearch is requesting help in the following priority order:
- From fluent, native speakers of non-English languages living either in their native country or in an English-speaking country.
- From those who have extensive training in a non-English language.
- From English speakers who are willing to learn how to index specific types of non-English records.
New Training for Those Who Speak Only English
FamilySearch has been careful in the past to encourage volunteers to work only in their native language, or in a language in which they have been specifically trained to index. That hasn’t changed, but we’ve found that English speakers can learn to index accurately in another language without actually becoming fluent in that language. And they have loved the challenge!
A very successful Italian indexing training initiative in the United States, conducted over the past 3 years, has more than doubled the worldwide number of individuals working on Italian records as well as the pace of Italian record publication. We believe the expansion of this effort to other languages will yield similar results for French, Portuguese, and Spanish, and then beyond as well.
New training guides and videos are available to help willing volunteers learn how to index specific types of records in these languages. We are also providing special training for group administrators to extend training to all interested volunteers. Contact your group administrator, or visit FamilySearch.org/indexing to learn more.
We urge you to accept the challenge, and join thousands of others as we work together to fill this critical need. Visit FamilySearch.org/indexing to learn more about how you can help put a smile on Ingrid’s face!