Friday, February 7, 2020

I Love Indexing

I am the recipient of the benefits of indexing at FamilySearch and am beyond grateful to be able to find documents for my ancestors because of the generosity of others who willingly give their time to index records.  In like fashion, I index for FamilySearch with the hope that my efforts will provide documents for others who are searching for their ancestors.

After church on I Sundays I devote an hour or so to FamilySearch indexing, typing names and other information into the forms provided.  A service for others, if you will.

The more I index, the easier it becomes.  I only recently learned how some of the icons across the top of the indexing field can make indexing faster, which means I can index more names in the amount of time I devote to indexing.

Specifically, when I'm indexing a document with repetitive dates or other information, the icons below allow me to copy rather than retype every entry.

These icons, from left to right will:
  • Copy text from the same field on the previous entry into selected entry.  (Think same date, same last name, etc.)
  • Copy text from the selected field into all following matching fields.  (For example, use if the document has the same date for every individual.)
  • Copy text from previous entry into selected entry.

I've been indexing muster rolls and rosters and find that the dates sometimes repeat for a whole document with 50 or more names on it.  How easy to click that left icon for each part of a date entry!

But I have one caution about using the middle icon for the muster rolls:  The index will often come with 50 entries though there may be many fewer names on the document.  If you click the middle icon and then find that you have to delete 30 entries because there were only 20 names to index, you'll have to manually delete each of the entries instead of being able to use the icon to delete all blank entries. 

I suppose most indexers already know these things but they were new to me!

FamilySearch also offers the opportunity to "thank an indexer."  I suppose this is what happens when someone clicks the thank you button. 

Whether I receive thanks or not, I'm pleased to index because I know it helps someone.  And I'm thankful to others who index.

Do you index for FamilySearch?  Have you learned tips or tricks to make it easier? 


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Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 



  1. Nancy, no I haven’t indexed recently. I should be. I recently saw some indexing that needed to be done for Michigan records which are near and dear to me. However, what ever the area, I should be doing more. Just to give back. I did index a lot for the 1940 census and plan to do the same for the 1950.
    I will personally thank you for being diligent and devoting regular time to index, benefitting all of us.

    1. Thank you and you're welcome, Diane.
      I think many of us started indexing when the 1940 census came out and we indexed in earnest because we wanted the information the census had. Since then I think indexing is a second thought to our own research. It was bound to happen. I index for the states where my ancestors lived if I can, if there are records available. Sometimes you can index a group of records in 10 minutes. Those might be the ones for you, Diane!

  2. I did indexing recently as part of my a Family History course I'm taking online. I had done indexing in the past, but hadn't for a while before I did my assignment for the course. It was a great way to be involved in family history work. I need to do more of it. Thanks for your post!

    1. You're welcome for the post, Jana. I think indexing is such an easy way to give back. I'm sure you're really busy but I hope you can find a few minutes a week to index. Some of the documents really only take 10 or 15 minutes.

  3. I have been indexing for a while now and hadn't looked at that copy icon, so thank you for reminding me of it. I will definitely keep it in mind when indexing.

    1. You're welcome, Shasta. The copy icon will work sometimes but not always, but when it does, it makes indexing go faster.

  4. Oops, you asked for tips. My tip, which you probably already know, is to use a search index to verify names of locations which are hard to read. If you can't make out a city, you can type what you think it is in a search engine, and it may tell you the proper spelling, which you can compare with the handwriting.

    1. Oh, I do that, too, sometimes, Shasta. To clarify a spelling and sometimes to figure out the county or state. They abbreviate sometimes in some records -- the locals know what the abbreviation meant but 80 years later, living in a different stay, I'm not so sure. That's a great tip. Thanks for sharing it.

  5. I pinned this so I can have a great reference for the indexing buttons. Thank you!

    1. That's good, Brenna. I hope you're able to spend a little time indexing once in a while.


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