Sunday, September 2, 2007

What's Happening at FamilySearch Indexing?

Most readers know that the LDS FamilySearch organization is digitizing images from microforms in the Family History Library collection and is indexing them in a project called FamilySearch Indexing. The goal is to digitize and index all of the microforms (over 2 million microfilms and over 1 million microfiches) and provide them for FREE at the web site.

The indexing effort is being performed by volunteers who sign up, receive training and indexing software, and commit to doing some indexing on a regular basis. Some of the indexing of specific records is being done by members of genealogical societies. The indexing procedure requires two separate indexers to evaluate each record, and if they agree then the record is accepted. If they disagree, an arbiter makes the final acceptance decision.

Some databases have already been completed - they can be found on the FamilySearch Records Search Project here. You do have to register in order to access these records.

The databases currently being indexed can be found here. The databases that will soon be started are here. As you can see, the major emphasis is on the 1900 United States census at this time. Several genealogy societies are indexing records specific to their local or regional interests.

This indexing effort will take a long time. The more volunteers there are, the less time it will take. The goal is to index census, military, vital, immigration, naturalization, church, probate, land, Bible, tax and other records and link the index to the record image. This is a very ambitious, and worthwhile, effort.

If you are one of the indexers, I applaud your efforts. Please keep them going! If you want to help, they still need volunteers to help - you can volunteer here. You do not have to be an LDS member to volunteer and do the indexing work.

Do you want to keep up-to-date on what is happening with FamilySearch? Check out the FamilySearch Labs web site at This site has links to their four current projects in work -- Record Search , Indexing, Pedigree Viewer and Life Browser.

The promise of these projects is extremely high. I applaud the vision, goals and results of the FamilySearch staff and leadership, especially the intent to make these records available for FREE to researchers like me. I do look forward to using each of the projects in my future genealogy research and practice.

UPDATED 9/3, 9 AM: A commenter asked why FamilySearch is indexing the 1900 census when it's already available on Ancestry and HQO. The big-picture answer is that they want a complete index of all census records available to all genealogy researchers. The LDS goal appears to be for FamilySearch to be the genealogy web site with the most resources available to everybody for free. I think they will achieve it, but it will take some time.

Another commenter noted that the image they saw on FamilySearch was much better than the corresponding image on Ancestry and HQO. You can do a lot of improvement with image enhancement now than you could 5 or 10 years ago.


Anonymous said...

Why is Family Search spending all this valuable volunteer time indexing the 1900 census when it has already been done at least twice, by HeritageQuest and Ancestry?

Unknown said...

I applaud the LDS for doing this... just this week on a list I subscribe to someone was having difficulty reading names that had be "taped" over on the page - both Ancestry and Heritage Quest images were too dark to even hazard a guess... I decided to try the new FamilySearch images I have access to in Beta... and the image was CRYSTAL clear... I mean it was TERRIFIC!!

For these names Ancestry indexers could not read the names themselves much less index them... and Heritage Quest only indexed head of household.