Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Getting the most out of FamilySearch–Indexing

All screenshots taken from the FamilySearch website and from the FamilySearch Indexing program.

Index 1

We are now moving on to the Indexing tab.  There are three sections, Overview, Find a Project and Help Resources.  I will explain the three sections a little further down.

Here is some general information:

  • Indexing is a great way to give back to the genealogical community
  • Indexing is a great learning tool for reading handwritten documents

How it works:

  • You download a small program to your computer (FS will be switching over to a web-based indexing system soon so you won’t need a program on your computer anymore)
  • You watch/read all of the training materials
  • You select a batch and off you go!

“But I am worried that I won’t be able to read the handwriting and I will make a mistake!”

  • All batches are indexed by TWO indexes.  If the indexers disagree on anything the entire batch goes to an arbitrator who will decide
  • There are batches for beginner, intermediate and advanced indexers
  • If you ever pick up a batch and it looks too difficult you can throw it back into the queue and pick up a different one
  • If there is something on a batch you need help with you can “share” your batch with another indexer or arbitrator for their opinion
  • After a batch has been arbitrated you will have the opportunity to review the batch and see what the arbitrator changed
  • You will be given your percentage of agreement with the arbitrators.  As you gain experience  you will see this number go up.  This is a great way to monitor your progress

The #1 reason an arbitrator has to change an entry has absolutely nothing to do with how well the person was able to read the handwriting!  The #1 reason an arbitrator changes something is because the indexer did not read the specific instructions for that project.  Each project has its own set of instructions and they can be very different from project to project.  I have been an arbitrator for a long time and I have to say it is a bit frustrating when I have to go through a batch and change a lot of things just because an indexer did not read the instructions.  A little further down I will have a screenshot of the indexing program and I will show you where the instructions are.


Here is a screenshot from the Overview section.  Make sure you go to each section, Test Drive, Get Started, Find a Project and Get Help.  I can’t screenshot this entire page but below this are some cool stats about indexing as well as announcements about the Indexing Project.

Index 2 


Here is a screenshot from the Find a Project page.  You will be selecting the projects through the program itself but on this page you can see what all is available beforehand and you can see what percentage of the project is complete. 

index 3


The Help Resources tab is the most important.  The more time you spend here the better you will be.  There are separate sections for indexers and arbitrators.  The stake indexing director and group administrator sections are for LDS leaders.

index 4


I have expanded the Indexer section so that you can see what all is available to help you.

index 5


Now I am going to show you the indexing program itself.  This will change once indexing switches over to web-based.  The first picture is the main window in the indexing program.  I have written some notes on the screenshot.  Click the screenshot to make it bigger.

index 6


This second shot is what you will see when you are indexing.  I moved everything up so that you can’t see the actual document image because FS prefers that images of current projects are not displayed (you are able to see the very top of the image but that is all).  You can see in the left panel what you need to extract from this document. These fields will change depending on what you are working on.  This happens to be sexton records.  Over on the right I have highlighted the most important thing—the Project Instructions.  If you read this you and  the arbitrators will get along very well.  There are many ways to manipulate the image to make it more readable but that is more than I can do in a single blog post.

index 7


I encourage you to at least give indexing a try.  I think that once you get started not only will you enjoy it you will get addicted Smile

Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

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