FamilySearch Indexing continues to grow. Today Headquarters announced that over 115,000 volunteers have signed up to help index records.
The fruits of the efforts are starting to help people more easily identify their ancestors. The completed projects, with the linked images, are freely available for searching at http://labs.familysearch.org. For example, one of the first indexing projects was the 1900 U.S. federal census. The entire census (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) is now searchable at the labs website.
How good is the index?
I thought I would see if the FamilySearch search engine would find my ancestor, Joshua Marsden BROWN (born 1833 in Pennsylvania). He went by Marsden throughout his life, so I searched for Marsden Brown. Unbelievably, FamilySearch found him! I say unbelievably because the other three indexes I have previously consulted did NOT find him. I used the same criteria in each index: Marsden BROWN for his name. 1833 for the year of birth. And Pennsylvania for the place of birth. Here were the results:
Ancestry.com. No matches.
Heritage Quest. No matches.
Soundex Index (on microfilm). This was the first index I consulted years ago. He was listed under Marden Brown (no 's' in his name). I accidentally found this because it obviously was not alphabetized where I would have thought. I got lucky with this index.
FamilySearch. 1 close match. Marden Brown, born Sep 1833 in Pennsylvania. Even though I typed Marsden (with the 's') Brown in the search field, FamilySearch was the only search engine that returned the right person as a possible match.
Why is the index so good?
Without having any inside information, and not having conducted any comprehensive studies comparing the different services, I suspect that overall the FamilySearch indexes will be more accurate.
Firstly, for the most part, the indexes are created by persons whose native language matches the language of the records being indexed. I understand that many of the indexes produced by the commercial organizations are indexed by persons whose native language is not the language of the records they are indexing.
Secondly, each document (image) is indexed by two separate indexers. If there are any differences in the transcriptions that each creates, a third person, known as an arbitrator, compares the two and makes the final decision.
Thirdly, FamilySearch's Standard Finder is utilized in indexing and searching. This means that if a person searches for Mary, results will not only include index entries for the name Mary, but it will also include entries for common nicknames and spellings of Mary. You are more likely to find who you are looking for if you search for these name variants. FamilySearch does it for you.
What records are being indexed?
FamilySearch Indexing maintains a list of current, upcoming, and completed projects. As of today, these are the current projects:
- Canada - 1871 census
- Germany - Mecklenburg 1819 census
- Ireland - birth indexes 1864-1903
- Ireland - death indexes 1864-1884
- Ireland - marriage indexes 1868-1921
- Mexico - 1930 census
- Nicaragua - Managua civil records
- United States - 1850 census
- United States - Arkansas marriages
- United States - Freedmen Letters
- United States - Indiana marriages, 1790-1905
- United States - Boston state census 1855
- United States - Boston state census 1865
- United States - Ohio tax records
- United States - Salt Lake County births 1908-1915
- United States - veterans buried in Utah
- United States - West Virginia vital records
How to volunteer.
To volunteer, follow these three steps:
- At www.FamilySearchIndexing.org, click on the Volunteer button to register.
- Install the software.
- Start indexing.