Thirsty for International Records? Help Is on Its Way!

September 4, 2015  - by 

You’ve all seen pictures of the man in tattered clothes, crawling across the hot desert sands with the sun beating down and buzzards circling overhead. Contrast that scene with the man in Bermuda shorts, lounging under the shade of a cabana, sipping ice-cold lemonade.

Which situation most resembles your experience with family history? Are you like the lemonade-sipping researcher who has so many records to search and so many avenues of information to pursue that you can’t decide where to start? Or are you more like the parched desert dweller who is dying for any drop of information about your ancestors you can find?

If your ancestors lived in an English-speaking country, chances are you are enjoying a wealth (perhaps better described as a flood) of life-enriching information about your ancestors on If your ancestors are from anywhere else in the world, FamilySearch recognizes that your chance of finding them is more like trying to locate water in the Sahara.

FamilySearch has long-promoted the idea that everyone deserves to be remembered. A corollary is the belief that everyone living deserves to find their ancestors. Would it surprise you to know that currently offers 20 times more searchable records in English than in all other languages combined? Is it any wonder then why we are being so vocal about the need for indexers and arbitrators in non-English languages?

The recent worldwide indexing event was all about raising awareness of the need for indexers and arbitrators in all languages, with a special emphasis on French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish in 2015. We want to “fuel the find” for people everywhere. To this end, we are redoubling our other recruiting efforts to find volunteers with fluency in non-English languages living in the United States and other English-speaking countries.

To help these individuals get started and ensure the quality of the indexed records, we are posting special introductory indexing projects and are providing special training guides, videos, and training webinars. We are also inviting and training others who speak only English but who are willing to learn to index specific types of records in a second language. In addition, FamilySearch is evaluating its processes to determine how we can provide more non-English indexing projects and publish volunteers’ work online in a more timely fashion to better recognize and reward them for their efforts. 

This is not a temporary campaign. This is the new core of the indexing program going forward, and we need your help to be successful. We urge you to consider what you can do to contribute to this effort. If you are a native speaker of a non-English language, please begin or continue to index and arbitrate in your language. If you know others, or are a leader of others, who are fluent in a non-English language, please do all you can to persuade them to help index and arbitrate in their native language. And don’t forget that as we increase indexing in languages other than English, the need for arbitration help will also continue to grow. For more information, please click here. If you have feedback, please send it to

Working together, we will make it possible for everyone to experience the life-changing joy of finding their ancestors!

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  1. I would suggest that the Church push to get Spanish-speaking wards/branches in places like Utah and California to have monthly indexing events where they try to get as many people as possible (or as computer resources allow) together to index a certain number of records. This should be an ongoing thing that becomes a regular feature in those wards. Also get the Spanish-speaking youth to have regular indexing events. That would make a huge difference in the number of Spanish-language records on FamilySearch.

  2. I applaud your efforts to get more non-English speakers to do indexing in languages other than English. However, by restricting your solicitations to only those “fluent” in a foreign language you may be doing yourself and others a disservice. Many years ago I served 2 years as a missionary in Mexico and even with all the opportunities I had to learn to speak Spanish I would by no means classify myself as “fluent” – even back then. But yet, I am confident that I could probably do indexing now in Spanish with some training. So, I would suggest possibly broadening your parameters in soliciting those to index in non-English languages – and not limit it to only native speakers, or those fluent in the tongue.