Saturday, October 21, 2017

Day Twenty-One:
A Slight Detour for Indexing

"Buy one Marriage Index CD, get one FREE!"

It's been a while since I blitzed through a file this quickly in my Fall Cleanup project, but today's task took all of fifteen minutes—and that included reading the typewritten 1993 letter on the back of the recycled page I had used to print out a copy of my 1999 Family Tree Maker database.

Back then, it was Family Tree Maker, offered by the "Banner Blue Division" of Broderbund. And yes, I'm sure of those details. That's what it says on the User's Guide Supplement for Version 4.4, stashed in the folder slated for review in today's to-do list. (And yes, I still can operate that old version of FTM on my antique franken-computer.)

Going through this file cabinet has been a walk through the memorabilia of the earliest eras of online genealogy. I even had a couple old issues of Family Tree Maker Magazine—then out of Hiawatha, Iowa, it was mostly a catalog of research products for sale, such as the ad (above) for the marriage index CD sold in the late 1990s.

Things have changed quite a bit in the genealogical research world, and I'm glad of it. Yes, I will faithfully repeat the mantra that it's not all accessible online (and likely won't be, at least for a long, long time), but it certainly speeds research progress to be able to snare at least some of those digitized documents at any time from the comforts of home.

We have some forward-thinking organizations to thank for that convenience, and in at least one case, multiple thousands of volunteers who have donated their time to transcribe the writing encased in digital pictures of history's records on which we have so come to rely for documentation.

In fact, that one organization—those folks behind—is, this same weekend, encouraging volunteers to once again lend a hand to complete the "indexing" process to free several digitized collections from their "browse only" status online and include within the ranks of searchable documents. Volunteers from around the world are joining together to see how many collections they can slam dunk before the weekend is over.

You, too, can be a part of this. Just like I was—brand new at indexing, but at least familiar with genealogy—you can sign up to read the text in a given document (provided online) and type it out into a web-based entry form, following simple instructions provided by the FamilySearch coordinators. The process is simple, and the tasks are labeled by level of difficulty so that beginners can select an entry point at which they will feel comfortable while they get the hang of the process.

The Worldwide Indexing Event 2017 continues all this weekend. I noticed the page set up for this event provides a choice of specific indexing projects that hopes to complete—and graphs each project's progress toward completion right on that same page, a great way to encourage volunteers.

I particularly noticed two of interest: county naturalization records for New York, and the death index for New York City. Since today is my regular day to index, I'll likely focus on those two, mainly because I have personal ties to family who might appear in those records. You might rather pursue the project for Oklahoma School Records, or the one for Civil Registrations of Deaths from the National Offices in the Philippines—which, incidentally, is already showing as over seventy percent completed.

Whichever project you prefer to help complete, you can be sure, as a volunteer, you are becoming part of the effort that has transformed genealogical research from the then-cutting-edge CDs sold by Family Tree Maker in the 1990s to the streamlined online process it is today. All you need do, after signing up as a volunteer online, is click on the "Get Started" button next to the project name you prefer and...well...get started!      


  1. Yes I did some Death records one day, not nearly enough but every little bit helps. I like indexing:)

    1. Oh, wonderful, Far Side! Thank you! Yes, every little bit helps, and I like the new web-based system better. The process seems more streamlined. And it's nice to know even the little bit we do helps others.


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