Indexing – A Way to Give Back

When you are searching an index for a record, do you ever wonder how the index was created?  Someone compared the hand-written original record, and transcribed the information so it would be searchable.

One site known for volunteers doing indexing work is  Here’s how it works:  You register with FamilySearch, then download a program from their website.  You then pick a database to work on, from a list they provide.  I always pick a database of personal interest, figuring that the sooner the records are all ready, the sooner they’ll be on line for everyone to use – including me.  Most recently I’ve been working on Vermont vital records.  OK, I’ve never come across a relative while indexing, but it could happen. On the other hand, someone I don’t know working on California marriage records made it possible today for me to find the marriage record for Will Richardson and Mary-Grace L Perham – not in the place I had been told they were married. 

Those Vermont records come in a set of 20 cards.  (Other databases, such as a state census, might be a single page with multiple entries, for example.) The indexing program opens up a spread sheet that corresponds with whatever database is open.  The indexer transcribes the information from the image of the record to the spreadsheet.  The Vermont vital records project involves typing names, dates, and locations for births, marriages, and deaths.  There is a spell check system.  Once all the information from those 20 cards has been transcribed, the spreadsheet is sent back to FamilySearch, and compared to someone else’s work on the same records.  If the information doesn’t match, a third party will look at the records and try to determine the correct entry. 

After a record series is completed, the information goes up on’s website for people to use. You can set personal goals, such as a certain number of names by a certain date.  You also get feedback relating to your own accuracy rate. 

Indexing is a way to help provide a link for people to their family history.  The records are free for all to use.  You can do volunteer work from the comfort of your own home. will tell you more about the indexing project and how to get involved.

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