Sunday, August 5, 2018

Now Indexing:
More Naturalization Records

I wasn't kidding when I told you last month that this "volunteer" indexing gig is really backed by a selfish motivation. I want to see more online of the kind of records that will help me figure out what became of my dad's immigrant family in New York City.

Just as I did last month, I've returned to work on more naturalization records from the Southern District of the U.S. District Court in New York. That's a lot of words to say, basically, the records of people who immigrated to New York City, the place where my paternal ancestors came.

Volunteering to index has gotten much easier, in my opinion. I've been volunteering at FamilySearch's indexing project for years, and have seen a number of changes. With the switch to online indexing, rather than working through a downloadable program, it seems like the process goes more smoothly. And, for those indexers who need coaching each step of the way with new or unfamiliar record sets, there are hints to help keep the process on track. Not to mention all the encouraging little touches like the celebratory confetti falling from the top of the computer screen, each time a batch is submitted.

I've learned a long time ago that volunteering can be beneficial to one's well-being, in addition to being helpful to others. But I also learned that intense people who jump in wholeheartedly can burn themselves out rather quickly, so I've learned to pace myself. Sometimes, I think what I'm doing to help is such a puny contribution that that little drop in the bucket won't count for much. But if a lot of us each did our puny little bit, collectively, we'd make such a difference.

I've done a lot of thinking lately about all the resources we now have for genealogical research. With digitized records at our fingertips from a number of sources, we may find ourselves forgetting what research used to be like.

Although I might miss being surrounded by the smell of dusty old books and records, I don't for a minute miss the tedium of spending upwards of eight hours in a day of fruitless searching, and then having to return home empty-handed. Being able to assemble the majority of supporting documentation with the click of a mouse allows me to exchange the tedium of searching for the first line of verification--say, marriage or death recordsand jump directly to tackling the challenging mysteries embedded in my family lines.

For that, not only am I thankful, but quite aware that what used to take months or even years to accomplish may now be done in a matter of a few days or less. Iand everyone else interested in pursuing the history of our familiesowe a debt of gratitude to those who had the forethought to harness the power of computers in organizing information systems and apply that to the pursuit of our roots. 

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