On 25 February, a group of us took a field trip to the Family History Center in West Ashley. I think that everyone found it informative. I know that I was amazed at the amount of information they had on-site, and learned a great deal about their online search tools. It was very impressive, especially when you consider that they supply all this information, and access to all their resources to anyone who is interested, for free.
Until recently, I believe it is safe to say that Ancestry.com was probably at the top of the list for the number of records available online. But Family Search is slowly closing the gap. It is truly remarkable to be able to research our family histories from the comfort of our home. Technology, teamed with the power of the internet, is amazing. No more writing letters and waiting for replies. No more field trips to far away libraries, town halls, and church archives. Never again do we have to pay for copies printed on strange paper with disappearing ink. We can open a website, type in a search phrase, and be presented with a list of matches to peruse. We still have to go through the list to find what we are looking for, but the process is a whole lot easier, cheaper and more gratifying than it used to be.
All this has been made possible because of dedicated volunteers who have taken the time to index records. Many repositories such as the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress have volunteer indexing programs. Like Family Search, these organizations make their resources available to the public at no charge. If you enjoy the convenience of having these vast resources available on the internet, volunteering is a wonderful way to give back to a process that has given so much to you.
How does it work?
First, you download the software from FamilySearch.org and set up an account. You then set your preferences (beginner, intermediate or experienced level, and language). You can pick a project such as the 1930 U.S. Federal Census and download a batch of records to work on. A batch is a small piece of a project that can be indexed in a short time, usually about an hour or less. You review the image and instructions; type in the requested information; review entries during quality check; and, submit the entries. Your work is saved each time you make an entry, you can return a batch at any time (and someone else will finish it) and help is always available. Couldn’t be easier. Not only is this a very worthwhile project - but it can be very interesting. They could use your help.
And D.I.R.T. would like to help. If any of you are interested in indexing records for the Family History Center - please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put together a list of volunteers. I will then spend time at one of our upcoming meetings to walk the volunteers through the process. This is something we can do together at our meetings, and/or by ourselves in the comfort of our homes. Either way, we can help each other get started and work through questions.
If you would like to find out more about how the program works, there is a good overview at https://familysearch.org/indexing/. You can view tutorials and how-tos, as well as take a look through the FAQs at https://familysearch.org/indexing/get-started-indexer.
You can watch a video presentation on FamilySearch's indexing program at by clicking here.
We will talk about this more at the next meeting. I hope you will join me in taking the time to make even more records available for our fellow genealogists.
- - submitted by Denise Doyon