Sunday, March 4, 2018
New York Naturalization Records
Finally! It's a good feeling, having gotten the chance to get back in the routine of doing volunteer indexing, to actually complete a batch successfully—and without the angst that comes from facing the unexpected. Of course, the only reason I managed to achieve that success was—don't tell anyone—that my batch consisted of only one single entry.
It seems, lately, that the batches I've chosen to transcribe, in my quest to give back to the genealogy community, have been riddled with idiosyncrasies. After tonight's effort, I can heave a sigh of relief. Done!
When I do my volunteer work online, I usually do it late at night—odd, because what I'd consider a way to unwind (not to mention, feel good about my contribution) turns out to be an angst-ridden, second-guessing marathon. I'm sure the folks at FamilySearch Indexing don't intend it to be that way, but what can an organization do, tasked with getting such a wide variety of governmental documents transcribed in an orderly fashion? It seems the very bureaus which issued these documents were intent on confusing the issue by changing their format every few years. Not exactly the essence of efficiency.
I've moaned and groaned, over the years, as I wrestle with documents from New York to California, Illinois to New Mexico. Everything from contrary imaging machinery to illegible handwriting can stand in the way of a volunteer indexer's wish to make a helpful contribution.
Tonight, thankfully, was different. I usually try to work on documents from locations where my own family's history once unfolded, perhaps in a vain hope that I'll find that missing document of one of my elusive forebears. So, tonight was New York, and naturalization records.
It was a spark of delight to realize that the first document showing up on my screen was from the very county in New York where I lived during my high school years. The towns mentioned in that Polish immigrant's petition were places I know.
The added bonus was that the batch I indexed was labeled a "quick batch." I soon discovered just what FamilySearch meant by "quick batch." It was one—yes, only one—record which needed to be transcribed. And then, hit enter and submit! Just as if I had done the typical batch, which usually includes ten different records.
Well, getting off that easy meant I really had to try another one of those "quick batches." So I clicked on the link asking if I wanted another "batch" like before. Of course I would!
I ended up doing that ten times, enough to do the same amount of work as if I had done a typical batch. Ten times I got to watch the colorful cyber-confetti sprinkle from the top of my computer screen. Talk about positive reinforcement.
In the process, I transcribed everything from handwritten declarations from the 1850s to petitions from immigrants arriving between the two world wars. There were immigrants from Norway, Ireland, Poland—even Turkey. And each batch was made up of only one document. Talk about quick!
The only reason I can figure for such an unusual set up is that perhaps I was tonight's clean-up batter. Perhaps there were several items left over from other batches—one here, one there—which needed to be taken care of. Whatever the reason, it was a refreshing break from the usual "stuck" feeling I'd often get, encountering a messy form in the midst of a batch of ten.
Then again, perhaps moving my volunteering time to an earlier hour of the evening might catch me with a more reasonable reserve of patience for those ever-changing government documents.