Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Why You Should Index!

I'm going to step on my soapbox and give a plug for Familysearch Indexing.

If you have a computer and can read, you can index.

Indexing is the process of typing the information from records into a massive database so they become searchable. Every record you index is important. It can be the key for somebody else finding their ancestor.

Software developers are working to create OCR technology to automatically transcribe handwritten text, but the problem is more complex than you might think. They are making some great advances, but so far the human brain is still superior at indexing.

Thanks to indexing, the Litoměřice parish records from 1552-1905 are 78.57% complete!

There are great new changes coming to Familysearch Indexing in 2014, including the ability to select specific localities to index. This means that someday, when the Moravia-Silesia parish registers are being indexed, I imagine I will be able to select for places like Trojanovice and Frenštát, and index the names of my ancestors. This is totally to everybody's advantage because I am already highly familiar with the spelling patterns!

I know a lot of people that feel "genealogy guilt." They think that in order to make any kind of difference, they have to be certified professionals who can devote all their time and effort to the research. They have "expertitis", that stupid attitude of, "Well, if I can't be an expert, I shouldn't even try." Uh...I am not running a marathon any time soon, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't try to exercise every day! I'm not the world's greatest cook, but my family sure appreciates my efforts!

Sometimes, though, it really is hard to just jump in to a genealogy problem and feel like you are making any headway at all. Case in point: my husband's family. All of his ancestors joined the LDS church in the 1800's. This means there are many descendants who are working on researching the same lines. Hey, when you have polygamists on nearly every branch of your family, and the doctrine of redeeming the dead, what else would you expect? The "brick walls" have been around for a reason - they are very solidly made of brick. Others have tried to solve the research problems and failed.

They aren't impossible to solve. But, they do require a lot of thoughtful analysis and record gathering. This takes time, which is something my husband lacks. So, for him in his position in life right now being a young father who works full time, indexing is the perfect way for him to be involved in family history work.

I also know people who say, "Meh, genealogy is not for me." I know that my overabundance of enthusiasm on this subject is not always contagious to others; sometimes it can be off-putting. The truth is, everybody benefits from indexing, irrespective of faith, age, and enthusiasm level. Indexing just a little bit helps you gain some perspective on your own life. You learn more about the historical context of your world. You leave your own egotistical thoughts of self and start wondering about others - what was their world like? What on earth does that cause of death mean? Holy moly she died when she was 8 months pregnant! That is so tragic! You start to think about you own ancestors. You start to gain a feeling of connection to your own past.

Indexing is the best Christmas gift you can give to your deceased loved ones. Stop feeling genealogy guilt. Indexing is easy and fun, and everybody can and should participate.

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