FamilySearch Indexing Media Brief

FamilySearch to Make Millions of Obituaries Searchable Online

Tens of Thousands of Additional Indexers Needed to Help Create an Every-Name Index to Millions of Obituaries

FamilySearch is working with partners and the larger genealogical community to collect, digitize, and index millions of obituaries from the United States (with other nations to follow). This huge undertaking will ultimately make hundreds of millions of names and family relationships freely available for online research.

In its kickoff announcement at RootsTech 2014, FamilySearch will utilize a well-known pirate theme of “dead men tell no tales…” and add, “…but their obituaries do!” drawing attention to the fact that obituaries tell the stories of people’s lives long after they are deceased. Carrying the theme further, attendees at the conference will be invited to volunteer and help unlock the “treasure trove” of precious family information contained in obituaries, which is currently “locked away” in static electronic images and newspapers.

An obituary is a unique story of one person’s life containing numerous names, dates, and places of key life events, relationships, and other biographical information. “Estimates claim over 500 million obituaries exist in the U.S. alone,” said Dennis Brimhall, FamilySearch CEO. “The average obituary can contain the names of about 10 family members of the deceased—parents, spouse, children, and other relatives. Making them easily searchable online can be an enormous future source for creating our family histories. The number of people who will benefit is incalculable. It could very well be the single largest preservation and access project of its kind, and will no doubt be one of the most used online collections worldwide as it grows.”

The success of the obituary campaign depends on volunteers. The information contained in obituaries requires native language skills and human judgment. The goal for this project in 2014 is 100 million names indexed, which will require tens of thousands of additional volunteers. Without volunteer indexers, these precious records will remain unavailable to family history researchers.

Those interested in helping to create this vast database to assist family history researchers for generations to come can learn more and sign up to be a volunteer indexer at A training video, indexing guide and clear project indexing instructions are available to help indexers get a quick start on this adventure.

New FamilySearch Indexing Program Coming This Year

Index From Your Internet Browswer, Including on Your Tablet Computer

The way we index historical documents is changing. FamilySearch indexing is currently developing an all-new program for volunteers to help make records searchable. The new browser-based indexing program will be introduced later this year and will be compatible with any tablet, desktop, or laptop computer that can access the Internet. The program will also be integrated with so the experience will be familiar to FamilySearch patrons.

What else is changing? New users will have an easier time getting started, and all users will find the help resources to be more accessible and complete. The program will make it simpler to find and learn about projects, with the ability to launch into a batch with a single click. And a new column-based entry option will be introduced, making it easier to index census and other tabular records.

Indexers will also be able to join multiple groups and enjoy a personalized My Indexing page, which will provide individual feedback, progress updates, and messages.

Want to learn more? Visit the FamilySearch indexing booth for a hands-on experience, or schedule a private interview with the indexing product manager (see details below).

Exclusive Interviews

  • “Captain Jack Starling” will be available for photos from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Thursday.
  • Scott Flinders, FamilySearch indexing product manager, will be available to discuss the new indexing program from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM on Thursday and Friday.

To schedule an appointment, talk to Katie Gale or, stop by the media hub.

Treasure Hunt at RootsTech

FamilySearch indexing is hosting a treasure hunt throughout the conference. Be ye at the ready:

  1. Take a picture with Captain Jack Starling.
  2. Upload the picture to your favorite social media sites.
  3. Tag the picture with the hashtags: #ahoy #FamilySearch #obits.
  4. Go to the FamilySearch indexing booth (#905), and show your post to claim your treasure.

About FamilySearch

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at or through over 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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