Sunday, August 21, 2016

Now Indexing:
U.S. District Court
Naturalization Records 1824 - 1946

When it comes to genealogical giving back, I like to work on projects that contribute to the data sets I'm currently using. Since I've been pursuing my Polish roots in New York City, this month's choice for my indexing project has been New York City's Southern District of the U.S. District Courts. The focus: naturalization records.

You know I'm wishing I could find some of my family's records there.

Working on this set has been a far cry from my experience last month, when I was sifting through records from Chicago instead of New York. Even though the level of difficulty of the project was assessed at the same "3" ranking for intermediate challenge, it seems to be more of a slog to get things done this month. Perhaps it was just that the instructions for indexing didn't seem to match up with the records being presented for the work.

Just to make sure, I did not try just one set, but three, in order to make sure I hadn't been delivered an aberration in the set. Three times a charm and all that.

It didn't help. I'm afraid my 98% score for entries in agreement from last month (each data set is done twice, and an arbitrator becomes the tie breaker in case of disagreements in transcription) is due to plummet with this month's fiasco.

And I thought I would be helping...

Helping or not, when I participated in indexing at FamilySearch last month, I was doing my part during their Worldwide Indexing Event, when they hoped to coax seventy two thousand volunteers worldwide to do as much indexing as possible over the weekend of July 15 through 17. Preserving old records and all, you know.

Fortunately for the cause, they more than exceeded their goal, garnering the assistance of 116,475 indexers, who completed over ten million records that weekend—and hopefully will continue their gesture of selfless service. Each new digitized record which becomes converted into searchable material adds another tool which may help a researcher chip away at a genealogical brick wall. Who knows? It may be yours. It may be mine. Every little bit makes that difference.

So I found myself bumbling around, yesterday, attempting another afternoon of service to the cause. I find if I regularly schedule my good intentions, they are more likely to happen; right now, I choose to sequester myself away in air conditioned comfort on a Saturday afternoon, when not much of anything else is happening. It helps to think I'm being productive when I'm desperately attempting to stay cool.

New York, however, does not present as cooperative a record set as did Chicago. Part of me wants to do more—just to see if I can work my way out of a sticky spot. Another part of me shrinks away in horror that I've really gone and messed things up.

But then, it's encouraging to scroll down this page and see how progress is being made on some select indexing projects. I can see some projects on Irish records are just getting their start—a thought, since I like to participate in regions where I am researching my roots—and can see the encouraging signs that others are closing in on completion, like marriage records for the states of Kentucky and Massachusetts. When we each do our part, eventually we see ourselves crossing those finish lines.

Above: "The first horse races in the Field of Mokotów in Warsaw" by Polish painter, January Suchodolski; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.



  1. Good for you! I just have not had the time to index anything lately, I do enjoy it. They asked me if I would like to be an arbitrator...I said No:)

    1. As much as I like to help out a good cause, I can totally see the reason for your answer, Far Side! I suppose that is merely an assumption on my part--indexing seems something that can be done on your own time, while arbitration might require more of a consistent time commitment--but it seems to make sense.

      Besides, with your limited opportunities to enjoy sun and good weather, indexing is likely a more reasonable activity to do in the winter months. You are out doing too many wonderful things like photography right now. Your indexing hours will get here soon enough!


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