Monday, April 9, 2012

Before Doing FamilySearch Indexing, RTFM

I admit to doing stupid doing FamilySearch Indexing without Reading the Fancy Manual (RTFM).  In Latin, legere stupri manual (LSM).

No one told me that there was a Manual.  Well, maybe they told me, but I sure don't recall seeing a link to it.  Frankly, I just jumped into FamilySearch Indexing because I wanted to help out with the 1940 U.S. Census.  Just DO I did.  And made some misteaks...

Let's back up:  I've been getting less than 100% ratings for my arbitrated FamilySearch Indexing on the 1940 U.s. Census.  There is a way to find out the errors I've made, but rather than do the wrong things over again I figured that I should RTFM.  So here I am...mea culpa!

On the FamilySearch Indexing program, the "Indexing Web Links" tab provides links to a number of articles and documents:

There are links on this Tab for Indexing Resources (Resource Guide, Indexing Tutorials, Ask a Question, FamilySearch Indexing Projects, and Partner Projects) and FamilySearch Websites (, FamilySearch Indexing, FamilySearch Record Search and FamilySearch Research Wiki).

The official, 124 page Resource Guide for FamilySearch Indexing is located at  Here's the first page of the document:

The Basic Indexing Guidelines are in Chapter 3, starting on page 59:

The sub-headings for this chapter include:

*  Type what you see
*  Type using lowercase letters
*  Adding diacritics or other characters
*  Clearing a field or record
*  Copying from a previous field and record (Ditto marks)

*  Correcting information that was recorded incorrectly
*  Entering corrected or crossed-out information
*  Indexing unreadable fields and records
*  Interpreting difficult handwriting
*  Marking blank fields and records

*  What are wavy lines and colored backgrounds?
*  Using a lookup list
*  Using auto-completion
*  Managing the field history
*  Using standard editing features
*  Short-cut keys and buttons

*  Indexing Names
***  Index the most complete name
***  Abbreviations
***  Maiden names
***  Name titles and terms
***  Name variations
***  Name prefixes
***  No middle name
***  No surname
***  Punctuation
***  Quotes and parentheses
***  Women with husband's name
***  Names of Catholic nuns and fathers
***  Names from other cultures
***  Two names on the same line
***  Two spouses or parents

*  Indexing Dates
***  Missing dates
***  Dates listed as numbers
***  Dual dates
***  Date ranges
***  Recent dates

*  Indexing Ages
***  Single age field for day, month, and year
***  Separate age field for day, month, and year
***  Year-only age field

*  Indexing Places
***  Place Names

*  Indexing Unusual Images
***  Blank images
***  Duplicate images
***  Unreadable images
***  Images with overlays
***  Part of the image is missing
***  Images with indexes
***  Images with other information

The other chapters cover what Indexing is, Adjusting the Indexing screen, getting help, getting training, arbitration, etc.

So - the Lesson Learned here is:  If you are going to do FamilySearch Indexing, then RTFM (or  legere stupri manual)!

Be honest - did you RTFM before starting FamilySearch Indexing?  

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver


Diana Ritchie said...

*FANCY* - now I know what the F stands mistake ;-) But then I work in aerospace and we have more,um, interesting "technical" language being used!!

I will admit I didn't read the manual - fancy or otherwise. But I did start indexing about a month prior and so read some of the help and I did watch the initial video.

My % isn't 100 - but then I'm not perfect on interpreting the handwriting sometimes...but I'm getting there!!

Celia Lewis said...

Hah! I always tell my class (genealogy beginners) to READ HELP or the manual or the FAQ or whatever the website says will be helpful to the searcher. So, of course I was perfect and read that #@!* manual first. But the truth is that some handwriting (or weird printing) is very challenging to read, even when checking several pages for examples of an ending "e" or a middle "d" etc.... so I'm happy to be getting 98-99% on many, and 100% on some.

Linda said...

I had actually read most of the guidelines and got a few 100%, but am mostly getting 98%...and one 92%!! When I go to review the "mistakes", I am finding that I am right about 99% of the ones marked as wrong!! It is quite frustrating. In those cases, I click the button asking them to review the entry again, but so far it doesn't appear that anyone has reviewed them!!

For example, I did a bunch of NH pages, there was a French Canadian Gagne family. I am 100% sure it was Gagne - I have LOTS of them in my tree and I live in an area in NH with lots of other French Canadians with that surname it is a very French name. (I am the town clerk and even checked in the motor vehicle system for other surnames that ended in "agne" there were none). The arbitrator decided that my answer was wrong and the family was instead incorrectly indexed as Sagne (I even checked the 1930 census, and the family was Gagne there).

I had another, where the woman was named Mildrew - clearly her name was Mildred, I checked this in the 1930 census too...But as per the instructions (write what you see), I wrote Mildrew. The arbitrator decided Mildred was the right answer. The W did not even come close to resembling a D.

I had another page where Married/Single/Widowed and White was written very lightly on the page for all 40 entries. I added M, S, etc for each. I had 15 of them marked wrong - the arbitrator decided that the answer "blank" was correct....

I have lots of other examples. I guess I should be happy with the 98%, but I spend so much time looking people up in other records to be as sure as possible that my entry is correct only to have it marked wrong... I was so frustrated that I took today off from indexing!