Saturday, September 1, 2018
Even More Naturalization Records
Since this is my weekend to attend to my promise to index digitized genealogical records every month, I found it quite timely that I was able to meet with some of the FamilySearch staff at the recent FGS conference. I got in a conversation with one particular staffer about the possibility of setting up a group to make indexing a little more fun—and encourage others to join in with me.
My thinking was that, since many local genealogical societies have a goal of preserving records, they have the opportunity to partner with organizations such as FamilySearch. One way for societies to help make those records available more quickly is by doing their part to transform the browse-only collection into searchable documents. That, of course, is what we are doing individually when we sit at home and volunteer to do indexing, the process of translating pictures of digitized documents into listings of the significant words we all are seeking: names, dates, places regarding our ancestors.
A while back, just after the FamilySearch indexing program went web-based, I noticed there was a section at the bottom of the page called "web indexing" labeled "Groups." Several test groups were displayed, though they seemed to be for demonstration purposes only, for only the group called "Test Group 1" had a count of how many members were participating.
It was much later that I discovered that, if I clicked on the button labeled "Find Groups" that I could actually, well, find other real groups that are really in existence. In fact, among those groups—many of which are of individual wards of the LDS church—are several listed for local genealogical societies. Here's an example, for instance, of a few French Canadian group entries on FamilySearch:
The group indexing option allows people to not only ask to sign up for other groups already in existence, but it allows an indexer to create a new group. And that is exactly what I had asked the FamilySearch rep at the FGS conference last week. You see, our local society would love to see some of the browse-only collections of interest to our county transformed into searchable record sets. Wouldn't it be great to not only provide that volunteer service—of benefit to not only our society's members but to anyone else out there who discovers he or she has ancestors who once lived in our locale—but to find a way to slam-dunk the project, and make it fun in the process?
That is indeed what our local society is now working on creating, with the support of the web indexing program at FamilySearch. I couldn't be more excited.
Meanwhile, I'm still sticking to my plan to index some records once a month, focusing on those records that I've always wished I could access to benefit my own personal research. For the past few months, my focus has been on naturalization records in the New York City area, and that was what I worked on for this month's effort.
This time was particularly tantalizing to me. Since I am searching my professional musician father's roots, I found it interesting that the batches I indexed this month were mostly for musicians. I found it odd to keep pulling up document after document, and see the occupation listed as musician—it certainly made me wonder how it was they came to be batched at the same time.
Other than those mostly German musicians who had completed their declarations of intent, the others in the record sets I completed this week were Italian—many of them barbers. I couldn't help but think of genealogist Mary Tedesco when I indexed a record for an Italian man by that same surname.
Of course, I keep hoping for the appearance of someone from my own family, especially that mystery ancestor, my paternal grandfather, who always claimed he was an orphan and never would tell his curious grandchildren the story of his homeland or who his family was. Someday, hopefully, I'll stumble upon a document which will unlock the secret. Until then, I'll keep chipping away at those many documents yet to be completely digitized—including the key of being searchable—by setting aside some time each month to do yet another indexing project.