Things I have learnt from indexing

I’ve been doing some volunteer work for both FamilySearch and the Queensland Family History Society (QFHS) as an indexer.

For FamilySearch indexing I alternate between the beginning jobs and the intermediate ones. A beginning batch is usually typewritten so it is pretty easy to read and decipher the letters. I like to do the UK World War 1 records as they are interesting to read. These are intermediate and are harder to read because the hand writing can be messy and sometimes the words are crossed-out. The records are also older so they have aged and faded.

Things I have learnt from indexing:

  1. Places which existed at the time of the record may not exist anymore and therefore can’t be found on Google Maps.
  2. Always consult the original document as there may be interesting tidbits written in the margins or crossed out information which may be useful.
  3. Even if the transcribing process has someone proofreading the work, it does not mean error-free names.
  4. People lied about their age in their military records…. and got caught. So some of them signed up again when they were old enough.
  5. New records are being indexed all the time, so it pays to recheck your brick walls every couple of months.

Indexing is a great way of filling in some time and it doesn’t have to be hard to do. Just select the beginner ones and start there.

2 responses to “Things I have learnt from indexing

  1. Welcome to Geneabloggers!! I like this video. I am also doing some volunteer indexing for Family Search.



  2. I had to laugh about your fourth point: some people lied about their age and got caught, then re-upped. I’ve had some family stories like that, myself, but never thought to go back and check for the bona fide entry at the right age!

    Actually, indexing is quite rewarding, not only because it allows us to pass along a small part of the gift of accessible archival records, but also because we are helping ourselves at the same time. You probably wouldn’t have accumulated those insights without having done the nitty gritty work of indexing, for instance. I like to search for indexing projects that bring my own research forward–like the Catholic Church records in Chicago in the US, where my husband’s immigrant family settled (and an ex-convict from Ireland by way of Australia!). The more people who index, the quicker those records become available for everyone to use. And I’m grateful for that.

    I found your blog today, thanks to a mention in GeneaBloggers. Best wishes as you continue your research–especially your indexing!–and your blogging project.

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