Emily W. Jensen: Indexing the world’s historic and genealogical records

Published: Saturday, March 26 2011 6:30 a.m. MDT

A record of records was set. More than 1.7 million records were indexed and 700,000 records were arbitrated in the FamilySearch Indexing program last Monday, March 21, the highest number ever in a single day.

This and other impressive genealogical statistics were announced at the second ever FamilySearch bloginar, "Indexing the World’s Historic Records: The Global Phenomenon Continues” on Thursday, March 24.

“This just wouldn’t be possible without volunteers,” said Katie Gale, FamilySearch indexing workforce communications manager.

She also said approximately 550 volunteers sign up each day. This explosion of growth is actually one of FamilySearch's greatest challenges because it requires more upgrades to keep up with demand, but Gale said that this is a challenge for which they are grateful.

Scott Flinders, FamilySearch product manager, outlined some of the upcoming enhancements. Within the next few weeks, a beta version of indexing.familysearch.org is set to be released, with upgrades that include a “My Accuracy” program that helps users determine their accuracy of inputted records as well as a new indexing program that incorporates a new linking tool. Other upgrades include an RSS Feed and an “Invite a Friend” button to share the joy of indexing.

“We hope to soon have mobile applications so that users can do indexing right from their phones,” Flinders said. They are also exploring a Facebook application that would similarly allow users to index within Facebook. And FamilySearch includes a Facebook page where users can get project updates and participate in discussion boards.

Jim Ericson, product marketing manager for FamilySearch, describes volunteers’ motivation:

  • Compelling projects in which they have a special interest
  • Enjoy interpreting handwriting and developing skills (or, as Ericson explained, these are people who become “addicted to genealogy.”)
  • Feel like they are doing something good for others and for genealogy
  • A productive use of time
  • See the results of their efforts — millions of new records published each week

    And with projects completed in 88 countries in a dozen languages (with Japanese soon to be added as No. 13) and not millions but billions of records available online, “with many of them indexed,” said Ericson.

    The indexing program at FamilySearch, is, as the site says, “Saving the records of our past.”

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