I didn’t do much, but

I made history button



…I did make a bit of history at the same time as I transcribed a bit of genealogical history. The adjacent badge confirms it!

I, along with 66,510 other genealogy enthusiasts, participated in a 24-hour effort (Sunday into Monday, U.S. time) to index vital details from images of documents such as birth certificates, censuses, and obituaries.  The goal—well surpassed—was 50,000 indexers and arbitrators. Even more remarkable—some 5.7 million records were indexed during the event! I couldn’t participate Sunday evening because of server overloads, but I was able to submit a batch early Monday morning. Once that was done, I was happy to back off and let others attempt server access and batch submission on the way to meeting the 50,000-participant goal.

Before and during the event, I indexed several batches of 1960s-era birth records from the Philippines—one thing I noticed was that almost every child’s middle name was his or her mother’s maiden name. That is, first of all, very different from familiar-to-me U.S. naming conventions, but it is HUGE from a genealogical perspective because those babies’ descendants will be able to rule out all other maiden name possibilities as they research their family’s roots.

I also indexed a set of fairly recent obituary notices. It was interesting to see how newspapers treat the surnames of the deceased’s descendants. For example, they rarely list the maiden name of the daughters of the deceased, and when the spouses of either male or female descendants of the deceased are listed, it is usually without surname.

For obituaries, it was recommended that we proceed line-by-line through the newspaper notice, adding each person to the online database as accurately and completely as possible but, at the same time, avoiding assumptions about surnames, relationships, etc. The longest obituary I transcribed resulted in one record for the deceased and 11 more for the spouse, the couple’s children and their spouses, and other named relatives and non-relatives. Having indexed that record, I offer a high-five (and sincere thanks) to the indexer who might someday tackle either of my parent’s obituary notices: with ten children, their spouses and children, and miscellaneous others, they will try the patience of the most enthusiastic indexer!

6 thoughts on “I didn’t do much, but

  1. Wanda, this is fascinating! What a fantastic project to be a part of. I’m another one who had no idea how big projects like this are undertaken and I am hugely tempted to do a bit more reading round the whole idea. I’d love to take part in something like this.

  2. Knowing how hard it can be to discover a female ancestor’s maiden name, that Philippines’ naming convention sounds like a blessing to future genealogists. And so is your contribution to indexing those records. It might seem like “little” but it will be huge to someone, I have no doubt.

  3. What an amazing event to be part of, I had no idea these things existed! I like the idea of the ‘pay it forward’ to the future indexer of your family!

  4. What an interesting project to participate in! I’ve often wondered who sits down and enters all this information…now I know! Your very special to take the time to help with this massive project! The Philippines maiden name was interesting…I would have been Catherine Culps Hardin…not so sure I like that!

  5. Wanda, this is by far one of the coolest things I’ve heard you write about. And knowing how sincerely you tackle any project, I can see you painstakingly reviewing your work, ensuring spelling, and how precise you would be before submitting your work. Smiling, I can also imagine the glee you felt when you realized the naming patterns of those in the Philippines. It’s almost like you are indeed constantly finding the needle in the haystack. I am glad you got so much joy from it. Take care, Bill xoxo

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