FamilySearch Indexing: productive work with downtime

May 28, 2008 at 12:30 am (Amusement, Personal)

I recently discovered something that I thought was really cool: FamilySearch Indexing (hereinafter “FSI”).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints went around the world and scanned records, such as censuses and birth records and death records. The problem is that the images available are often of handwritten documents, which do not lend very well to converting them into computerized storage mechanisms. And that is where FSI comes in.

A volunteer signs up and downloads a program. He or she goes through tutorials. Then he/she opens up the program and it downloads batches. One may either download a batch from a project one chooses or one can download batches according to priority. One then transfers the information (usually page number, line number, family number, surname, first name, age, sex, race, place of birth) into the fields below the image. Then one allows the program to check for potential errors, and when that’s done, the batch is sent. Done! And then on to the next batch. One has to have internet access while the program is open, but this only to download and send batches. One can work on the batches without Internet connection active. (One neat thing is if one’s working with an Internet connection, one can save the work done thus far on the computer (in FSI’s program) and on FSI’s servers. Then, when one opens the FSI program on the original computer or on any other computer where FSI’s program is installed, the program will download the latest version of one’s work. Thus, I can do work at the office and then complete it at home.)

It takes minutes, really. I began a week ago and have already done 895 names. Most of the images are very readable.

All of this is free and of no obligation.

What does this accomplish? Simple: when a census’s information is complete (that is, all the information has been “indexed”), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will make that information (that is, the collected information from that census) available on FamilySearch for free, so that others may do their family history work. It cannot publish this information if the information hasn’t been indexed. Right now, the information is on scanned pages, just waiting to be indexed and released to the world.

This work will benefit the countless people who do their family history, for whatever reason. Anyone can join this endeavor.

For more information, go to:

You can also read this blogpost:



  1. dicentra said,


    I got into that awhile ago, and I did 5000 names before the novelty wore off and I stopped. It was very addictive.

    Hint: don’t even try to go to the site on Sundays after 5pm Mountain Time: the servers get awfully busy then.

  2. Steamboat McGoo said,

    If only this had been going on 10-15 years ago when I did my fambly’s genealogy.

    But it was fun going to a LDS genealogy library (I went to the one in Mesa, AZ) and learning about the Soundex system and how their records worked.

    Funny – when someone “bingos” and find something/someone they were looking for in the records, you can usually tell ’cause they practically start hopping and jumping around!

    BTW: Just to brag: I traced my lines (Mom’s and Dad’s) back about 14 generations – all the way to the two sets of ancestors who came over from England/Wales, and their parents. My ultimate goal is to get the names of the ships that brought them over. But I have to go to the East Coast for that – a trip I dread.

    Then I will consider my effort complete.

    My Family Treemaker data set has over 1200 family relatives names in it and spans over 400 years.

    It took me years to gather it all …

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