What is indexing?
Indexing is the process of creating indexes for record collections. Having indexes allows researchers to more quickly find records for specific individuals; without them, researchers might have to look through hundreds or thousands of records to locate an individual record.
In FamilySearch indexing, volunteers copy family history information from digital images of documents. The indexing process is simple.
- Genealogical documents from around the world are converted into digital images and stored on the FamilySearch system.
- Each document is divided into small batches of about 20-50 names.
- An indexer downloads the images to his or her computer and enters the requested information.
- Each batch of documents is indexed by two different people to ensure accuracy. We refer to the two indexers as the A indexer and the B indexer.
- If information from the A indexer does not agree with information from the B indexer, then someone called an arbitrator reviews both versions, compares them with the original document, and makes the needed changes.
- Everyone gets free access to the indexes at www.familysearch.org.
The adults competed against the youth to see who could index the most names. I kind of like a challenge. I'm slightly competitive. I had a laptop that was already loaded with the necessary indexing program. And I'm a pretty fast data enterer. So even though I had no idea what was a reasonable number of names to expect to finish within a month, I randomly chose 3000. By the end of August, I had indexed 2900 names.
The challenge ended with a Ward Ice Cream Social where the winners would be announced and the non-winners would get to be the ice cream servers. The youth won. I was fine with that. The youth should always win stuff like that. They're awesome. And I knew they had actually done a lot of work. But the surprise came when the winners of each auxiliary were also announced. The EQ winner had indexed 500 names. The HP winner did 300. The YM winner was untouchable with 5000 names! Spell Girl was the winner for the YW and she had done 350. So, as they got ready to announce the RS winner, I secretly got ready to get up and claim my candy bar and bear my testimony of all the things I had learned during the month of August. Imagine my shock when another woman's name was announced. Cathe Becker had indexed 3900 names! I am completely embarrassed to admit that for a few minutes I was dejected, discouraged, disappointed...and not at all interested in ice cream. What a brat, huh?
And I hadn't planned on telling you that whole story until this afternoon when my friend, Renae, posted this on her blog.
"There are many of the sisters whose labors are not known beyond their own dwellings and perhaps not appreciated there, but what difference does that make? If your labors are acceptable to God, however simple the duties, if faithfully performed, you should never be discouraged." Eliza R. SnowApparently I hadn't learned everything I needed to from last night's experience. This lesson wasn't just about "checking my pride at the door." It was about having a better perspective. And it was about feeling joy and satisfaction "in my labors" even if I don't get a candy bar for doing it. 2900 names is still an amazing accomplishment. It's 2900 more than I've ever done in my life. And it doesn't matter if the ward knows how many names I did. I still did them.
So after reading that quote this afternoon, here are the things I really learned...
I started the Indexing Challenge because I wanted to win it. But I kept doing it because it was fascinating. Looking at names of people who came from Scotland and Italy on a boat in the 1800s with their entire families just to start a new life was inspiring and uplifting. So many times, I stopped and wondered about those people, and what they had done in the years after arriving in the United States.
Because I was indexing, I had a greater desire to do my own family history work. I was drawn to familysearch.org and then to ancestry.com. And it all ties together. As I was looking up my own family names, I found census records and passenger lists that looked just like the ones I had indexed. Only these were names I recognized, and I knew what had happened to them in the years following.
In the month of August, not only did I index 2900 names of people I am not related to, but I also added hundreds of names to my family tree and took 24 of those to the Dallas Temple. I'm pretty sure the lasting effects of that satisfaction are better than whatever I would have gotten from the candy bar and five minutes with a microphone.
Thank you so much, Renae, for helping me realize how grateful I am for my labors, the ones that are noticed and the ones that aren't.