The Lone Indexer
July 01, 2014
As genealogists, we sometimes get so caught up in what we are doing that we forget who is behind the indexes, abstractions, and transcriptions in books and databases that we use to find our ancestors. They are not well-known authors or famous in any way, other than they took time out of their lives to help current and future generations find their family members. Are you interested in becoming one of these unsung heroes of the genealogy world?
If so, you’re in luck! There are many possibilities for assisting with these types of projects; I will discuss two of them here.
The Midwest Genealogy Center has a volunteer program, and one activity within this program is helping with indexing projects. MGC’s indexing projects encompasses many different types of materials, from obituary books to marriage listings to creating every name indexes. Some of these projects can be completed at home, while others can only be done at MGC. Requirements include beginning computer skills and knowledge of the Microsoft Office program Excel. Find the volunteer application form on MGC’s Volunteer Program webpage. Fill one out and submit it in person, through the US mail, or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always looking for new indexing volunteers!
Another indexing option comes from FamilySearch.org. FamilySearch’s indexing projects revolve around making their many databases more accessible and searchable by name. There are no time limits on indexing projects, and indexers have a variety of materials from which to choose. If you have foreign language skills, other databases are available. Requirements at FamilySearch are basic computer skills, and there is a specific software program that each indexer downloads onto a personal computer. Indexers also have to be registered with FamilySearch, but this can be done easily and is free of charge. If you are interested or would like more information, visit FamilySearch.org’s indexing page.
Indexers are everyday folks just like us who want to help. They spend hours, months, and sometimes years writing down or typing information in order to preserve and make it easily searchable for everyone. Remember to take a moment the next time you look through an index, whether in a book or database, and quietly thank the indexer for their unselfish generosity and contribution to the field of genealogy.
Midwest Genealogy Center