The year is 1863. An excited young couple stands at the head of the aisle in a small church, ready to begin their life together as a new family. Records documenting their marriage, the births of their children, and eventually their passing will become future clues to the stories of their lives. This couple may be among your ancestors who haven’t been found yet.
Now the year is 2013. Years have passed since you first started looking for traces of this couple, but you have repeatedly come up empty-handed. Their records are not yet searchable. All that can change with help from indexers and arbitrators like you. Your dedication may provide the clue that leads researchers to other records and stories in their family trees.
The World’s Ancestors Are Waiting
Arbitration is an essential step in the indexing process because records can’t be published until they’re arbitrated.
You’re probably not aware, but right now, FamilySearch indexing is behind in arbitration by nearly four million images. That represents some 10 million individuals whose names cannot be published, individuals like the couple described above who are waiting to be found and remembered. The need for arbitrators has never been greater, and you can help!
The Key to Unlocking Our Ancestors’ Stories
As you may know, two people index every historic image. When the two agree, no additional work is necessary, and the index can go straight to publication. However, in the majority of cases, the two indexers give slightly different answers on one or more parts of a batch, so a third person is needed to review the answers and choose between them. This third person is an arbitrator.
Traditionally, arbitrators are people who have indexed at least 200 batches or 2,000 names with high accuracy. Arbitrators must also pay attention to detail, including knowing and understanding the instructions for the projects they are helping with. These requirements help ensure arbitrators are experienced enough to read records, interpret old handwriting, and make hard choices between two good indexes.
How You Can Help
If you are currently arbitrating, keep up the good work! If you are an arbitrator but haven’t arbitrated in a while, refresh your memory with the arbitration tutorial, review the project instructions and basic indexing guidelines, and come back.
What if you’re not an arbitrator but want to learn more? View this document on becoming an arbitrator. If you decide you are interested, you need to have indexed at least 2,000 records to qualify and understand the project instructions for every project you plan to help arbitrate. If you think you have the skills to provide some arbitration help in your spare time, please see your stake indexing director or group administrator today. If you don’t have a stake indexing director or group administrator, contact FamilySearch support to discuss your qualifications.
Remember, every name that gets published represents another chance for someone to find and connect with an ancestor—maybe even for you to find one of your own. As an arbitrator, you hold the key to making that possible.