Sunday, October 6, 2013

Giving Back: FamilySearch Indexing

So one of many interests in starting this blog was the idea of giving back to the genealogical community. Everything that exists in genealogy today is here because of someone's effort to give history to someone else. By participating in giving and volunteering, we are able to preserve history and benefit others in the same way.

I believe that young people do a tremendous service to genealogy. But because there's nothing to unite us, we remain invisible. Because we are invisible, many do not see the ways in which we contribute.

I've been trying to decide between a host of projects that I can work on in order to give back. I've participated in a few projects before, but I'm also looking to explore new ideas in how to offer my services and experiences to others in ways that matter.

My favorite contribution to the genealogical community is probably FamilySearch Indexing. The records they make available are free to everyone, and include everyone. Whereas many sites are still focusing on North America, Europe, and Australia, FamilySearch offers the chance to index records in dozens of languages from all over the globe.

By downloading the indexing program, I can request patches of records, and index them. They will then be made available for free at They have projects available in a variety of languages. By contributing my efforts to this project, other people can have success that might have never otherwise had.

The software offers you the option of setting a goal. I want to set a goal for how many names I want to index. I set a really high goal of 5,000 names once, hearkening back to the story of Jesus and the feeding of the 5,000. I wanted to get a concrete understanding in my mind of what it would take to give even the briefest personal attention to 5,000 people. It was a noble goal, but the time period in which I was trying to accomplish it was much too short.

Realistically speaking, if I do about 20 names a day it would take me about 8 months to do 5,000 names. If I do 30 names a day, I can do it in 5 1/2 months. So if I make a goal to do 5,000 names in 6 months, it should give me the space I need to be realistic.

Even though I'm going to be very busy throughout October, I'm going to make the attempt. Five thousand people by April 6th, 2014. Can I do it? Let's find out!

In what ways do you give back to the genealogical community? What are some of your favorite volunteer projects? What are some volunteer projects you would like to see?