Comments about ‘Volunteers are computerizing 1900 Census data in record time’

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Published: Thursday, Sept. 13 2007 12:00 a.m. MDT

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B Cole

The 1900 census as well as many other years, are already on Ancestry and Heritage Quest online. Why is the LDS doing this one again? Are they doing other the census years too? Sure, you must pay for Ancestry but Heritage Quest is free through the public libraries. The church recently added HQ at our Sandy Family History Center (I wonder about that, too?). To me doing the 1900 census doesn't make sense when they could be doing so many other records that haven't been done yet.


I've been an indexing volunteer for about six months and I really enjoy it. Anyone can sign up and get started. It usually doesn't take long to do a batch. I've done 1900 Census records from New York, Oregon, Vermont, NC, SC, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois and Kentucky. It's interesting to see the different demographics and family situations from around the country, as well as names from over a century ago. If you have some spare time while a baby naps or on a business trip, it's a great way to accomplish something good. Some friends of mine do it on their laptops while watching videos with their kids.

W. David Samuelsen

HQ's 1900 census is NOT every name indexed.

The objective is FREE access. Ancestry wants you to fork up so much $ just to see the census.

And 1900 census is not going to be only census. Already underway is Mecklenburg 1818 census (German) and in works are the other USA's censuses.


Ancestry.com has FAR more data than just every-name indexes to every single federal census -- so much more data from so many states and countries that I consider it indispensible to anyone doing genealogy. You subscribe for the other databases and the censuses are "gravy" available to you at no additional cost. For those who cannot afford a subscription, many libraries make it avaible for free, including all Salt Lake County libraries and BYU.

Thus, there was no need for the LDS Church to index what has already been indexed three times (the soundex cards being the first time, with HeritageQuest and Ancestry being the second and third time). That 18 months of wasted effort by the FamilySearch Indexing volunteers (of which I am one--it is my calling in my ward), could have been spent on indexing millions of names from records that no one has yet indexed, such as the Draper Manuscripts.

Nora Nell

I understand that the census records that were indexed by Ancestry were done in Asian countries. The people were paid to do it.
In the case of Family Search by the LDS Church, the people doing it are those who have a deep interest in genealogy and helping others find their own families, even if they aren't LDS.

Also, Ancestry charges for all their census records except the 1880 census, which the LDS Church did. The records the LDS people and friends are doing will be available either for free or at minimal cost.

Betty Wray

You can say what you want, but the Heritage Quest census records are not very good. If you've ever used it, you would know in a moment it doesn't compare to the census record on Ancestry. HQ is not an EVERY name index, the 1850 and 1930 are incomplete, and the whole thing is not very good to use. Ancestry.com is 100% better. If the church can get volunteers then good. In the interim, either one has to pay to use Ancestry.com at home or spend time at a public library.

K Farley

Ancestry was available through the LDS Family History Centers until last Spring. They (Ancestry) stopped offering access to it for free. So, this is one reason why the Church wants to make it free with the help of volunteers.

Wanda Castoe

I wonder also, why do this again? But it is addicitive. Since 31 Nov 2006 I have done almost 24,000 names from several states. I have several non member friends helping with this. I enjoy it so much. I would like to move on to court records, but what they have ready I will do.


Absolutely ridiculous waste of time to index the US Census records since they have already been indexed! There are MILLIONS of other records to be indexed. Does this mean they're going to do ALL the census records, both before and since 1900?? If so, that would end up taking like 15 years - just to get where Ancestry was 2 years ago. What a waste of everyone's time - just to save a few bucks? Also, it's not like volunteer Mormons will do a better indexing job than paid Asians, as was implied in the comment above. These will have many errors, just like any indexing project.

My comment

I am sorry that so many people find it necessary to make negative comments. I have had a subscription to Ancestry for many years and find it very useful. I have been an indexer for 3 months. This given me the chance to compare what I have indexed to the same census pages indexed on Ancestry. I was very surprised to discover very poor interpretation in many 1900 census records on Ancestry. Although it appears many are unhappy at the additional translation I am thankful for the opportunity it will give to have another set of eyes review the records and to access the information at no charge. Some people have limited or varied time to do their research preventing them from going to a library. The free access at home will enable a larger population to research with the records that will be available through the indexing program.


You folks are not catching the vision. The new indexing volunteers so far this year are the just the beginning of a massive work force that will be at work in the near future. We are "cutting our teeth" on a known entity in preparation for the great work ahead, that of digitizing granite mountain and all else that we are allowed to do. I'm sure that those who are administering the program are amazed and encouraged as the work progresses, even as a dew before the sun.

Cris Coleman

Instead of being grateful for an additional resource, as was pointed out by "My Comment", so that we can compare, if needed, with what has already been done, some choose to be negative. Negativity has no place in genealogy work. Be gone! Scat!

The one thing that has not been mentioned is that in this new indexing, each record will have been indexed by two people, with a third, if the compared entries do not match 100 percent. I dare say that kind of quality control was not evidenced in the Ancestry and Heritage Quest censuses. Be glad for that.

Meanwhile, let us enjoy the fact that shortly after indexed records are submitted to the LDS Church, they are prepared to go online at FamilyHistory.Org. How cool is that?

Margit, Texas

I was blessed to be one of the beta indexers, and have moved on to arbitration. I am now fortunate enough to work on German records and I can use all my knowledge and skills, including reading the old German script. The quality control with three people entering/comparing data is priceless. This program has been going on for more than two years, and few were aware of it. Through recent publications of articles the ranks of the volunteers has increased, and more and more records are entered online. It is up to you to use whatever method you want to search for your ancestors. No one is forcing you to use the free LDS church records.
Negative comments are counterproductive and serve no purpose. Accept gracefully and with thanks what is offered with FamilyHistory.org.
I have derived too many benefits from doing this work to question the huge blessing it has become.

Diana, California

I saw an article in the Ensign last month while working in the church library that asked for indexers. I was so excited about it, I couldn't wait to get home. What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I have only been doing this for about 3 weeks but have already indexed 2000 names.

When I first started indexing I was worried about making mistakes but was more confident when I learned that somebody else would do the same batches I am doing and differences would be looked at by an arbitrator.

For added interest, I highly recommend that you look up the history offered for the 1900 era census. How interesting it is. I was wondering why I would run into patches of young widows and by reading about the times they lived in it gave me insight into what may have been the cause.

I also have membership to Ancestry.com and have enjoyed it very much. It is getting way too pricey for me though and I will be greatful to have free or inexpensive access to this information.

This indexing is great stuff, I am so glad I found this opportunity to be a part of it.


Censuses are not the only records being indexed but they are a great training ground - common language, predictable format, minimal interpretation and major interest. I'm guessing that few first-timers would sign up to index indentures and judgments. Once you see how easy it is, you will find yourself hocked and excited about going on to other, harder records. As for the "great debate" - I have had an Ancestry subscription from the beginning and consider it well worth the money because I use it almost every day. I also use Heritage Quest regularly. As for why another indexing may be useful, try looking for Lewis Wells, born 1920 on the 1930 census for each. Then go to 1930 census for Utah, Utah, Vineyard, page 261, sheet 2a and compare what you see! (And where would you be without the alternative I submitted to Ancestry, who incidentally are glad to have others help make their informtion more usable and accurate.)


To all those critics of the indexing of the US Census records: Remember the criticism of the announcement of the Conference Center in Salt Lake? Now look at the outcome of that project!

Nothing goes on in this Church without it first being discussed by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. They are advised from many sources before decisions to move forward are implemented. Therefore, let us reason together and get on with the job at hand. The time spent here could have been spent better on the Lord's work. I trust and follow the brethren

Lee Huff

I am so thankful for the previous posts. I also wondered "why duplicate?". Now I know. As a beta tester also, I have watched this process develop and grow. And become easier. When I began tracing my own ancestry 40-plus years ago, all was done so slowly. Now a person expects to type in a name and be rewarded with a complete family line! Wonderful! This project allows us to work minutes, or hours, at will, the only requirement being to follow instructions and guidelines. And the rewards in our own hearts are really worth the tiny efforts we must make. Better yet, no one is excluded from the effort. I'm happy to be a part of this work, and to better understand why it only appears we are duplicating. Thanks.

Dayna Nichols

I am so thankful to hear of this great work -
My daughter began indexing when the program was presented in the Ensign article last month. What an opportunity for her to get involved with 2 small children, she has found an opportunity to give service while they nap. I am impressed with her example and want to do likewise. Maybe this small effort will also help people see how easy it is to get involved and get started with their own personal histories and even their family history. I understand more everyday that this work is an important key for all of us in our progression. I agree wtih all of the posts that have mentioned the negativity and hope that people will feel inspired and uplifted as they take this opportunity. I am going to encourage more to participate. Thanks for the wonderful reporting and opportunity to share.

Skip Hellewell

Nice to hear from all those ancestry.com stockholders. The truth is that while the Internet is characterized by the free sharing of knowledge--that is its real power--the folks at ancestry.com seem to have been caught up in their greed--their fees are too high and remind me of the monopoly the telephone company had for far too long, which greatly restricted innovation. Making the Census records freely available to all is a noble work, it is Wikipedia redux, and will have a profound influence on the study of family history. Go indexers!

Kath, Los Alamos

I am grateful for this program. I helped index through the card program, then data entry in the 90s (worked so much I got a macular hole -maybe it wasn't related; found a treatment to restore sight -I pray; it's getting ---better feel like Job). My sister did so much research before she died (just after my eye trouble). I have tried ever since to proof and add "pictures" of the evidence of our lineage - unsuccessfully. Once the church pulls together resources, I think I might be able to make progress at long last. THANKS to everyone for this work. I joined the church after my sister (oldest, previously mentioned) joined because of genealogy. (Our mom took Sunday classes - got in the habit of going each week; I took the discussions, but preferred the friendshipping at my Baptist church... still miss many of those traditions; but I learned the church is true and now walk by faith...) I have earned 2 masters degrees to prove I am capable of authoring our ancestry (all I'd seen were written by Ph.D.s ... ) yet all those projects have gotten in the way... and hopefully genealogy is again my priority project. I index when I stumped, or have just a couple "laid back" hours between projects. I am grateful to feel I am a part of the work. It is fabulous the response is so great. Ancestry seems like a great tool, but I never got any results when I tried at the FHC - and now that I am nearer to subscription time (its moved up in my to dos) - I have learned it has flaws - I am sure all projects will. But with the volunteerism of the church ...I am hopeful... just Thanks.

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