We hear the word “indexing” thrown around a lot when we’re talking about family history. In fact, in their presentation at RootsTech 2017, President and Sister Nelson challenged people to make a sacrifice of time to participate in temple and family history work, including indexing. They shared the experience of three young family members, Natalie, Logan, and Laura, who help their grandmother index 2,000 names every month.
With indexing you aren’t necessarily working with the records of your own ancestors, so why is it important?
There are still millions of records with valuable information that is difficult to access because the records have not yet been indexed. Finding an ancestor’s name in an unindexed record collection often means scanning through hundreds of images until you come across the right one, which can be frustrating and time consuming.
Indexing makes those records searchable. The process is simple: volunteers like you collect the information from the records, transcribe it, and enter it into the system. Once a record has been indexed, finding it is as simple as typing your ancestor’s name into FamilySearch.org.
And the best part about indexing? It can be done with whatever time you have. If you have only a few minutes on Sunday after church, start a batch, do what you can, and then save the rest for later. Little by little, your efforts, combined with those of thousands of other volunteers, will make new information available to fill in the gaps of our families’ histories.
Indexing can be an incredible help to those who are searching for their families in historical records. Of course, many people you do not know will be blessed by your efforts to index these documents, but even your own family can experience the great benefits of participating.
If your life has been blessed by sacrificing time to participate in temple and family history service, please share your story with us.
These families shared some of the ways that indexing has blessed their lives:
“My special needs daughter, Monica, was watching me index and asked to do the indexing. She reads at about a fourth-grade level and does not usually read cursive writing. But I thought, ‘Why not?’ So we tried the WWII draft registration cards. Most of them are printed large or are typewritten. She is spending more time out of her room with family. I watch her and occasionally help her read the ones that are cursive and poor penmanship. She even challenged the other ward members to index. She said, ‘If I can do it, there is no reason you can’t do indexing.’” —Linda (Emmett, Idaho)
“For my father’s birthday, he told his seven children not to give him presents. Instead, he asked that we all index as many records as possible in one month leading up to his birthday. We all got into it, and some friendly competition ensued, each of us vying to give our dad the ‘biggest’ gift. In total, we indexed thousands of names and got together via video chat on his birthday to share our results.” —Marc (Farmington, Utah)
“Indexing has created an exciting opportunity to bring our entire family of six together. It has helped me, my wife, and our four children become more interested and involved in family history in a unique way.
“In the beginning, I showed them all how to do it, and we would index together as a group. Soon after they felt comfortable indexing, my oldest kids (13 and 10) started working together and checking each other’s work (which I also check regularly). But they now have enough experience and confidence to index on their own. What’s even better, they look forward to doing it, not just when I ask them to! Most of the time when I get home on Sunday afternoons after being in church meetings all day, I am happy to find that my children have been indexing. My 8-year-old is also a quick learner and enjoys participating, with me at times and with my wife at other times. I especially love having my 6-year-old sit on my lap as I explain each record to her and help her get involved.
“I have also indexed with my wife, and we have helped each other through some pretty difficult marriage records. Neither of us could have completed some of those batches alone. When we complete each batch, it provides a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Indexing brings us together with a common goal of digitizing records to provide the groundwork for temple and family history work. We all like to share interesting records and help each other comprehend unclear handwriting.
“My first experience with indexing was during the 72-hour, worldwide indexing event in 2016. Now I feel a sense of urgency and responsibility to partake in this work and look forward to doing it more and more. Web indexing also allows me a lot more flexibility and ease—I can index on my Chromebook, a tablet, or any computer! It is easier than ever to get started and index.” —Austin (Falcon, Colorado)
“I started indexing in 1980, when there was no indexing online. I would leave my children in school, go to pick up my father, and then go to the family history center to do indexing. We worked there for four hours, three times a week. Love has been strengthened through the spiritual experiences of this work.
“Then came the grandchildren, and the experiences continued. My grandson asked if I had the Urim and Thummim to interpret such difficult records. I explained simply that this is a spiritual work, and if we do it with love, the Spirit helps us to understand and that those who are on the other side of the veil also help us to read and to know that we are really indexing correctly.
“How grateful I am for this privilege of being able to help my family on both sides of the veil with this wonderful work and to be able to leave this legacy of love to be followed.” —Irani (Brazil)