Saturday, May 6, 2017
New York City Naturalization Records
With the inspiration of having just returned from a trip home, I thought I'd focus on giving a few records from the Big Apple some digitized sunlight. I spent time this week indexing records from the collection at FamilySearch called New York, New York U.S. District Court Naturalization Records from the Southern District. This was an assortment of various records included in the naturalization process during the years 1824 through 1946.
I usually focus on record sets which somehow impact the areas of my own family history pursuits, so in a way, I'm really helping myself by helping these records get online in searchable order. But I realize even this microscopic effort blends with those of thousands of other indexers to make records accessible to someone for whom this makes a difference. Recently, the FamilySearch blog shared some notes of thanks from people researching their own families around the world, whose efforts benefited from the work of indexers.
Once a new indexer downloads the simple program and learns the basics on how to do general indexing routines, it doesn't take much time to index a batch of records from FamilySearch.org. Usually, one batch includes ten records, and each record set provides prompts to help the indexer know which entries to make in each field in the program. I usually try to index record sets listed at an intermediate level of difficulty, but there are easier categories with which to start, for those wishing to build their confidence at the beginning.
I find the hardest challenge to indexing is sometimes nothing more than deciphering some sloppy handwriting. Even if it were abysmal handwriting, I can rest assured that, if I made a mistake, there is always a second indexer also going through the same process; if our two interpretations of that handwriting disagree, there is a third person—an arbitrator—who can step in and make the judgment call. It's all a teamwork effort, even though each of us work in the comfort and seclusion of our own homes at varying times of day or night. Together, we make a difference so others can find the exact record they've been seeking.
If you haven't yet tried your hand at indexing, I highly recommend it. I consider it my token of appreciation for all those times someone has helped me with my family history research over the years. It's one small way of giving back to the genealogical community.