Family Search Indexing

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FamilySearch, the online genealogy portal of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often inadvertently called the Mormon Church, is carrying out a massive program to digitize old genealogical records. Volunteers include people inside and outside the Church. The records will be open to anyone interested in doing genealogical research. This program is called FamilySearch Indexing.

Mormon family history

The project has been around for several years, and anyone can participate. No special knowledge is needed in family history research or of computers. However, a computer is needed to participate. There is no time requirement, and any volunteer can work at his or her own pace.

Go to [1], select "Get Involved" on the navigation bar, select "Indexing" on the drop down menu, and create a user account. You will choose a batch of names from some type of historical media, such as census records. Each batch contains information about approximately 50 people. You will read the information on the page and enter it in a series of fields at the bottom of the page. The images can be increased in size, or darkened or lightened, to make them clearer. There will always be someone who will check over your work before it is finally submitted, so errors you might make are not as dire to the final outcome. The program has a walk-through tutorial, but many people are able to begin working without any instruction. When you finish a record and save it, it is automatically transmitted to FamilySearch in Salt Lake City, even if you haven't finished the record. You can save unfinished work and come back to it later. If you go too long without getting back to it, someone else might finish it for you.

The data for FamilySearch Indexing is being extracted from records in the church storage facility at Granite Mountain in Little Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake Valley. The Church constantly adds new genealogical data to the vault.[1] Extracting and digitalizing the data makes it searchable and available online, free of charge, to family history researchers worldwide. The Church provides a free, digital, searchable copy of collected data back to the provider of the data.

Milestones in FamilySearch Indexing

FamilySearch volunteers expect to have transcribed more than 325 million names by the end of 2009, just three years after the organization began its online indexing program.

The milestone was a number once thought impossible to reach in such a short period of time. In 2006, a few thousand volunteers indexed only 11 million names. But thanks to continuing advances in technology and a growing number of volunteers—more than 100,000 across five continents—an estimated half million individual names are indexed each day.

At that rate, Paul Nauta, FamilySearch public affairs manager, expects that 500 million names will have been indexed by the end of 2010. [2]

And yet all this work barely makes a dent in the vast stores of historical records throughout the world, which grow by more than 100 million records (each with multiple names) every year.

To hasten the work of making important historical records available online, the Church’s Family History Department is continually working to develop new ways to preserve records not only as quickly as possible but at the highest quality possible. This has resulted in specially designed digital cameras, innovative scanning technology, and new software and applications.

On April 23, 2013, Mormon Newsroom announced that in seven years, volunteers have added one billion searchable records to the free family history website provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Volunteers are found in 164 countries and territories. During this time over 585,000 of them have donated their time to digitize records online. They type handwritten records into fields online, which enables them to be searchable for genealogy researchers.

  1. Ibid.