Obituaries + Volunteers = A Treasure Trove of Searchable Stories

Obits

FamilySearch has declared 2014 the “Year of the Obituary” and is working with partners and the larger genealogy community to collect and digitize millions of obituaries from the United States, with other countries soon to follow. The goal for this year is to index 100 million names from these historical documents, including the name of the deceased, relatives, and all other individuals found in each document.

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This massive collection of obituaries will add a fabulous new dimension to online family history research. Obituaries are a "treasure trove" of valuable genealogical information. Each is a unique story of a person’s life. Many obituaries include a photo of the person along with the names of generations of family members.

The success of this indexing campaign depends on volunteers.

Tens of thousands of additional volunteers are needed to keep up with the volume of obituary indexing projects coming this year. This represents an excellent opportunity for societies, archives, schools, and churches to participate in a meaningful act of service that will pay big dividends for generations to come.

Many indexers will enjoy indexing obituaries because they are so interesting to read and are virtually all typewritten. However, each obituary is as unique as the deceased person it portrays, and this uniqueness can make obituaries deceptively tricky to index correctly. Good judgment and a willingness to closely follow the instructions are crucial.

Volunteers are encouraged to start immediately. The quirks of the project may take some getting used to, but help resources are readily available, including:

If you haven’t indexed before, get started today by following these steps:

  1. Go to familysearch.org/indexing and click Get Started.
  2. Follow the download instructions.
  3. Open the indexing program using the new indexing icon on your desktop.
  4. Sign in with your FamilySearch or LDS Account.
  5. Enter your profile information.
  6. Read and agree to the license agreement.
  7. Click Download Batch.
  8. Select a project to index.

To download a set (or batch) of obituaries to index, do the following:

  1. While in the indexing program, click the Download Batch button.
  2. Select Show all projects.
  3. Scroll down to US indexing projects, and select a project that includes the word "Obituaries."
  4. Click OK.
  5. A message will pop up offering help. Use the help resources as needed, and then click Close to begin indexing the batch.

Although 2014 is the “Year of the Obituary,” this collection will likely require several years to fully index. Working together we will unlock this treasure trove of fascinating information for researchers everywhere.

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