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Global Online Event Aims to Make It Easier to Find Ancestors


The FamilySearch Worldwide Indexing Event 2017 engages online volunteers to help make the world's historic genealogical records freely and easily accessible online.FamilySearch International announced its Worldwide Indexing Event held October 20 through October 22, 2017. The annual 3-day initiative unites individuals and online communities globally to create awareness and help make billions of historic records freely searchable online by family history seekers. Whether an experienced online volunteer indexer or first timer, interested individuals are invited to participate at FamilySearch.org/indexingevent2017.

Indexing is the web-based process of entering information from the world’s digitally scanned historical documents into an online database, making them easily searchable online. Family history sleuths around the world can then search these volunteer-indexed records to quickly discover their ancestors. Anyone with a computer and internet connection can help index historic records and offer meaningful community service to those seeking their elusive ancestors.

The 2016 event far surpassed expectations. “From its beginning on Thursday in Southeast Asia and Australia to its conclusion Sunday night in the Pacific, the event attracted a wide range of participants. Volunteers contributed online from home or participated in locally organized events from Zurich, Switzerland, to the Rocky Mountains in the United States,” said Allison Hadley, FamilySearch indexing marketing specialist.

Over 100,000 volunteers indexed more than 10 million historic records during the 2016 event. Hadley explained that every record contains the names and stories of real people—the deceased ancestors of millions of living descendants today—just waiting to be discovered and added to the family tree by their posterity. The 3-day event and continued efforts by volunteers throughout the year create millions of personal ancestry discoveries for others.

Hadley said volunteers with non-English language skills are particularly needed at this time. She said FamilySearch currently has over 200 digital camera teams photographing historic records of our ancestors worldwide from non-English speaking countries. It has created a huge need and opportunity for indexers to make these records freely searchable online. Volunteers can choose from projects of interest from all over the world.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to serve people worldwide,” said Hadley. “Indexing is a fun and engaging way to provide meaningful community service, to get involved in family history and historic records preservation and access.”

The web-based tool and event are available in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, Polish, Swedish, and Dutch.

About FamilySearch

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 5,000 family history centers in 129 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Steve Townsend
Why are there so few indexed records being released for public use now? In checking the current U.S. projects list, there are several projects that have shown 100% complete for both indexing and arbitration for several months now but the records have not been released. Further, I participated in FamilySearch indexing projects, like the Alabama World War II draft registration cards, that have never been posted to FamilySearch. However, the indexed records are available for a fee through Ancestry.com and its Fold3 site. Similarly, Alabama marriage records projects have shown they were 100% indexed and 100% arbitrated, but they have not been added to the existing marriage record database. Why is that?

When I inquired a few months ago, I was told there was an issue with permissions and licenses. That explanation seemed odd to me because I would have expected those issues to have been addressed before the microfilm were digitized and made available for indexing in the first place. But even still, it does not explain why so many fully indexed record sets are being withheld.

Anyone looking at the Last Updated tab can clearly see a marked difference in the rate at which U.S. records in particularly are being updated or made available for the first time. There are also several blogs that regularly post when records are updated or newly available, and they capture the historical view. In scanning one of those blogs recently, it became clear that the pace of making U.S. records available has slowed even though records have been indexed.

I cannot in good faith participate or encourage others to participate without some understanding of how this volunteer effort is benefiting the genealogy community when multiple record groups have been indexed for months but are not being made available.

I look forward to better understanding why indexed and arbitrated records are being held for release.