Saturday, March 7, 2020

Now Indexing:
From a Different Approach

Sometimes, it just helps to stop wrestling with frustratingly unyielding puzzles, and find something to scrape take one's mind off the brick wall in the research pathway. So today, I spent some time helping out with someone else's genealogy problem: I did some indexing at

This time, though, I took the back door in to find a suitable batch to index. Usually, I go straight to the "Indexing" button on the drop-down menu after signing in to FamilySearch. There, I can just conveniently click on "Find a Project" and search for one in a region of personal interest. That way, I can, say, work on naturalization records in New York City in hopes of someday finding my grandfather's family, or work on Chicago records to trace my father-in-law's Irish immigrant roots.

This time, though, I tried a different way to access a record set to index. A short while back, I had noticed that FamilySearch had made some more changes to their website, one of them being that when you search for a specific location's record sets, the website conveniently suggests available training opportunities related to that geographic area—and then, also mentions specific record sets that are in need of volunteers to index them. You can see this in action if, instead of cutting straight to the chase on the "Search - Records" route and filling in names and dates in the dialog box, you let your cursor hover over the various parts of the big map that fills the other side of the page.

Have you ever noticed that, if you hover over a region on that map and then click your mouse, a pop-up box lets you drill down to more specific locations? For instance, if I hover over the map of Europe and click, the site gives me the option of choosing from each of the specific countries which comprise that continent.

I have done that for North America—and particularly the United States, where most of my research is concentrated—so many times before. But last week I noticed that, once I selected the specific state I was researching, a column on the left suggested specific indexing projects for that state which were in need of help that very moment.

Since today was my specific day to complete some volunteer indexing, I thought I'd find a batch that way, instead of my usual route. I headed to Ohio, where I am currently floundering around, trying to locate old records—especially wills—having to do with my mother-in-law's uncooperative Rinehart ancestors.

While I couldn't find any current projects for my specific interest in Perry County, Ohio, I did notice a project on that left column looking for immediate help with Western Division Naturalization records in Cincinnati, Ohio. I thought I'd spend a few minutes on that project, and in no time, added a set of ten declarations of intent and petitions for citizenship to the available records which are now searchable (instead of browse-only).

I have found a few other such indexing suggestions in my research over the past week or ten days—some even in my own state of California, which rarely shows up in the list of needed indexing projects. Hopefully, this extra exposure is helping dispatch those record sets to the ranks of those we can easily search, benefiting so many people worldwide with the ease of finding those mystery relatives we seek.

And, strangely enough, it was nice to set aside thoughts of struggling with my impenetrable family mysteries for a day and just do some routine typing—and yet, know that, even if not for me, it's helping to make progress for someone out there.


  1. I need to do some indexing! Thanks for the explanation of how you found new projects!

    1. I really like that new way of listing indexing projects, Far Side. It helps focus on connecting volunteers with the regions they are most wanting to help.

  2. I never knew you could get to things that way. Thanks for that!

    1. I think it's new, Sheri. I may have been one of the first to stumble upon it when I found it. Sure surprised me! Glad they thought of that.


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