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An invitation . . . with some incentive attached

March 21, 2012

So what’s the big deal about FamilySearch Indexing?  I’ve been talking about it a lot lately.

Think about the indexes in books.  If you had a 1000-page book, but no index to tell you which page might contain the information you were seeking, it would be very difficult to find what you were looking for.  Likewise, doing family history research in historical records with no indexes can be a very time-consuming process.  I’ve spent many hours at the Family History Library here in Salt Lake City, poring over microfilm images looking for the records of my family members.  Sometimes an individual roll of microfilm will have an index, but I still have to sit there and handcrank the microfilm reader to get to the correct page.  And then there’s the rewinding of each and every film when I’m finished.

Since family history is one of my passions, I realize that I’m very lucky to live in such close proximity to the Family History Library with its 2.4 million+ rolls of microfilmed records to search in the first place.  What really excites me now, however, is the new opportunity to search many of those records from home while at my computer. FamilySearch is currently working on digitizing all of the Library’s microfilm rolls and publishing the images at  It’s a huge project but it’s moving forward.  While technology currently makes it possible to turn a roll of microfilm into a set of digitized images in about 4 minutes, extracting the names out of those images to create a searchable index takes time, mainly from volunteers the world over who have chosen to give a little bit of their time to FamilySearch Indexing.

Here’s a cool graphic from FamilySearch that explains it all:

Notice that number 1 at the bottom?  YOU can make a difference by getting involved with indexing.  A and I have been indexing together since Rootstech in February and we’ve already done over 1600 names.  (When we get tired of reading old handwriting, we check out the batches of Ireland Calendar of Wills and Administrations–they’re all typed!)  It’s such a great feeling to find my own family names when I head to FamilySearch, but it’s also satisfying to know that by indexing, we’re doing something worthwhile that will eventually help others be able to find their family records.

Next month FamilySearch is partnering with and for one of the largest indexing projects ever, the 1940 US Census.  Once again, I’m inviting you to get involved and giving you some incentive by telling you about this week’s contest for YOU at the 1940 US Census Community Project as we get ready for the release of the 1940 US Census in just 12 days.  There are three things you have to do to enter:

  1. Visit the Games and Prizes page first to opt in this and all future contests
  2. Download the indexing software HERE
  3. Complete the 1940 US Census simulation batch by March 30, 2012

Once you’ve downloaded the software, there is a “Download Batch” button to press which brings up all the possible indexing projects (which I find fascinating to read through!)  Scroll through them until you find the *SIMULATION* 1940 US Census to download.  The simulated census image will appear on the top of your screen and you just type the information you see into the correct boxes on the bottom of your screen.  It’s really that simple.

Complete the simulation batch and you’re entered to win one of two $50 Visa gift cards or you may get really lucky and win the $100 Visa gift card!  Check out the full details about how to enter in this 1940 US Census blog post.  Don’t forget to visit the Games and Prizes page to opt in to this and all future games and contests.  There will be more coming!

Disclaimer: Yes, there’s incentive for me too–as part of ambassador program this blog post enters me into a drawing for an Amazon Kindle Fire.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mama Rachel permalink
    March 21, 2012 10:52 am

    Oo! I love indexing! And I soooo want to get involved with the 1940 census. I’ve done some family history work using censuses with my mom, and I sure appreciate them for the information, but also for the stories they tell us about our ancestors. (Things like nick-names and grandkids living with grandparents have been huge things to sort through!)

    THANK YOU! I am so going to do this!

  2. March 21, 2012 3:25 pm

    Great post. Indexing is wonderful. Just this week I indexed a set of death records from Texas. They were all young men who had died all over the world in WWII. The places where they had died were legendary: Iwo Jima, St. Lo, Battle of the Bulge and so on. Most of these men never married. How important it is that we remember them!

  3. March 21, 2012 9:13 pm

    I’m in!:)

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