Diane Ellison, Courtesy FamilySearch International
A challenge by the Church’s FamilySearch International to establish a new record for the most volunteer indexing participants online in a single day met with success on July 22, as 66,511 volunteers went on the Internet to view images of historical records and transcribe the information for inclusion in the searchable database on FamilySearch.org.
The total went well beyond the previous one-day record of 49,025 volunteers, set in July 2012 at the height of the 1940 U.S. Census indexing effort.
In addition to the number of participants, what was dubbed the International Indexing Challenge also produced the second-highest combined (indexed or arbitrated) total of submitted records, reaching just over 5.7 million. (Each record is indexed twice by two volunteers and than reviewed by a third volunteer, known as an arbitrator, to ensure quality and accuracy.)
“FamilySearch indexing volunteers continue to astound with their dedication to indexing day in and day out and their ability to not only meet but far exceed every challenge set before them,” said Mike Judson, FamilySearch indexing workforce development manager. “In my mind, the best part of this success is how many people are going to be helped to find their ancestors because so many volunteers were willing to give their time to this great cause.”
That the indexers themselves have felt joy and motivation is reflected in success stories that have come to the Family History Department in the days since the record was set.
For example, this statement was posted in French on the FamilySearch French blog:
“I am the bishop of the Toulouse Capitole Ward. I have mobilized my ward for that event and enrolled as many youth as possible. We increased from six indexers to 49! Our ward has indexed more records in July than our whole stake did in 2013. We are indexing the project for Toulouse, our own city. This is a great chance, and I want our ward to accomplish 99 percent of the project. Our members, young and old, have participated with a happy heart. What a beautiful experience.”
Christopher Jones of Porthmadog, Wales, wrote:
“What a wonderful day this was! As a family we had such a wonderful experience participating in this great effort. We arranged our family home evening so that we could all index — two parents and seven children aged 18 to 5. We began by watching the two wonderful videos about why we index and how it helps to uncover and make available records of our ancestors. The younger children particularly enjoyed this presentation.
“We then set about logging in, and creating new accounts for those children that didn’t have one. Working on four computers, we each took turns indexing records, and helping the younger ones to read and identify names, and to enter their details. One son had already gotten a head start, indexing several hundred names the day before, and submitting them as part of the event. Another son was so engrossed in the challenge and so taken by indexing that he added another 150 records the following day.
“All told, as a family we indexed just over 900 records! We feel so blessed to be able to participate in this vital work. It helps that it is such fun to do!”
Natalie Terry of the Chaengwattena Ward, Bangkok North Thailand Stake, had heard of indexing, as her mother had participated before the advent of indexing on the Internet. When her family moved from Wiesbaden, Germany, to Amman, Jordan, she looked for something to replace her goal of regularly attending the temple since she no longer had a temple within convenient access. With the encouragement of her mother, she looked into indexing and tried it.
“I was hooked,” she wrote.
Now, the family has moved to Bangkok, where, again, they do not live close enough to a temple to attend regularly.