Paying it forward

WWINDEX_Poster2Have you ever searched for information about an ancestor? Did you find what you were looking for? Were you, as a result, able to answer a nagging question about your family’s history?

Do you have an hour or two to spare beginning later this weekend?

If so, you may want to “pay forward” your experience by participating in the Worldwide Indexing Event, hosted by FamilySearch.org. The goal of the event is to get 50,000 indexers and arbitrators to submit at least one batch during a 24-hour period. The participation period begins Sunday, July 20th at 00:00 coordinated universal time (UTC) and continues until 23:59 UTC on Monday, July 21st. My start time (U.S. Eastern Daylight time) is 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 20th. Start times for other time zones are available on the Facebook event page.

Indexing is the process of entering information from images of vital records (birth, death, marriage), government documents (censuses, draft registration cards), newspaper reports (obituaries), etc., into an online database. Once indexed, the search terms and the underlying documents become available to people searching for information about their ancestors.

Participation is fairly simple. You will have to download and install the indexing program and either register for a new account or sign in with an existing FamilySearch or LDS account. Details, introductory videos, a “test drive,” and other information is available here.

I wanted to try it out beforehand, so I signed up early Thursday evening and was soon fully engaged in entering names and dates for 1960s era birth records from the Philippines. It takes patience and attention to detail, especially for sometimes difficult-to-read handwritten records, but it is also interesting to see how Filipino naming conventions differ from what I’m used to in the U.S. The biggest payoff, of course, is knowing that someone, somewhere might be able to learn something more about a family member because the details of a birth certificate are now searchable. I have since indexed four 15 record batches. Data entry and a pre-submission quality check took about an hour per batch.

I’ll be there! Will you join me?

2 thoughts on “Paying it forward

  1. Wanda, this really is a project that has you written all over it. I don’t believe your own personal interest would be a factor, this really does sound like something you would be complied to do. Having said that, it kinda interests me, just seeing the old records, and maybe helping some unknown person chase down a relative would be unique. But I am afraid I would be like one of the government officials at Ellis Island, the person would say their name was (whatever I couldn’t pronounce or spell) and I would write Brown on the form, and that wouldn’t do. Please take care, and have fun. Bill

  2. How cool is that? I personally have never been involved in family history searches but I can understand and appreciate the effort that it takes to index al these records. I know how much I appreciate the ease at which information is now at our fingertips (“just Google it!”) – and need to stop and think about how grateful I am for all those who readily share their expertise online.

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