FamilySearch Indexing: How to Join and Index Genealogical Records

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Join FamilySearch Indexing

Join FamilySearch Indexing as a volunteer indexer to help make genealogy records available for free.
FamilySearch

Online crowds of FamilySearch Indexing volunteers, from all walks of life and countries around the world, help index millions of digital images of historic records in seven languages for free access by the worldwide genealogy community on FamilySearch.org. Through the efforts of these amazing volunteers, over 1.3 billion records can be accessed online for free by genealogists in the free Historical Records section of FamilySearch.org.

Thousands of new volunteers continue to join the FamilySearch Indexing initiative each month, so the numbers of accessible, free genealogy records will only continue to grow! There's a special need for bilingual indexers to help index non-English records.

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FamilySearch Indexing - Take the 2 Minute Test Drive

FamilySearch Indexing - Take the Test Drive
Screen shot by Kimberly Powell with permission of FamilySearch.

The best way to get acquainted with FamilySearch Indexing is to take the two minute test drive - just click on the Test Drive link on the left-hand side of the main FamilySearch Indexing page to get started. The Test Drive begins with a short animation demonstrating how to use the software, and then gives you the opportunity to try it for yourself with a sample document. As you type the data into the corresponding fields on the indexing form you'll be shown whether each of your answers is correct. When you've completed the Test Drive, just select "Quit" to be taken back to the main FamilySearch Indexing page.

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FamilySearch Indexing - Download the Software

Download the free FamilySearch Indexing software to get started with indexing!
FamilySearch

On the FamilySearch Indexing Web site, click the Get Started Now link. The indexing application will download and open. Depending upon your particular operating system and settings, you may see a popup window asking you if you want to "run" or "save" the software. Select run to automatically download the software and initiate the installation process. You can also select save to download the installer to your computer (I suggest you save it to your Desktop or Downloads folder). Once the program downloads, you will then need to double-click the icon to start installation.

The FamilySearch Indexing software is free, and is necessary for viewing the digitized record images and indexing the data. It allows you to temporarily download the images to your computer, which means you can download several batches at once and do the actual indexing offline - great for airplane trips.

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FamilySearch Indexing - Launch the Software

Launch the FamilySearch Indexing software. Screenshot with permission of FamilySearch.
Screenshot by Kimberly Powell with permission of FamilySearch.

Unless you changed the default settings during installation, the FamilySearch Indexing software will appear as an icon on your computer desktop. Double-click the icon (pictured in the upper-left corner of the screenshot above) to launch the software. You will then be prompted to either log in or create a new account. You can use the same FamilySearch login that you use for other FamilySearch services (such as accessing Historical Records).

Create a FamilySearch Account

A FamilySearch account is free, but required to participate in FamilySearch indexing so that your contributions can be tracked. If you don't already have a FamilySearch login, you will be asked to provide your name, a user name, a password, and an email address. A confirmation email will be then be sent to this email address, which you will need to confirm within 48 hours to complete your registration.

How to Join a Group

Volunteers not currently associated with a group or stake may join a FamilySearch Indexing group. This isn't a requirement to participate in indexing, but does open up access to any specific projects that the group you select may be involved in. Check the Partner Projects list to see if there is one that interests you.

If you are new to indexing:

Register for an account.
Download and open the indexing program.
A pop-up box will open asking you to join a group. Select the Another group option.
Use the drop-down list to select the name of the group you want to join.

If you have signed in to the FamilySearch indexing program before:

Go to the indexing website at https://familysearch.org/indexing/.
Click Sign In.
Enter your user name and password, and click Sign In.
On the My Info page, click Edit.
Next to Local Support Level, select Group or Society.
Next to Group, select the name of the group you want to join.
Click Save.

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FamilySearch Indexing - Download Your First Batch

How to download a batch to index records for FamilySearch indexing
FamilySearch

Once you've launched the FamilySearch Indexing software and logged into your account, it is time to download your first batch of digital record images for indexing. If this is the first time you've signed into the software you will be asked to agree to the terms of the project.

Download a Batch for Indexing

Once the indexing program is running click on Download Batch in the top left corner. This will open a separate small window with a list of batches to choose from (see Screenshot above). You will initially be presented with a list of "Preferred Projects"; projects that FamilySearch is currently giving priority. You can either select a project from this list, or choose the radio button that says "Show All Projects" at the top to select from a full list of available projects.

Choosing a Project

For your first few batches it's best to start with a record type with which you're very familiar, such as a census record. Projects rated "Beginning" are the best choice. Once you've successfully worked through your first few batches, then you might find it more interesting to tackle a different record group or an Intermediate level Project.

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FamilySearch Indexing - Index Your First Record

FamilySearch Indexing - Record Images and Data Entry
Screenshot by Kimberly Powell with permission of FamilySearch.

Once you've downloaded a batch it will usually automatically open in your Indexing window. If it doesn't, then double-click the name of the batch under the My Work section of your screen to open it. Once it opens, the digitized record image is displayed in the top portion of the screen, and the data entry table where you enter the information is at the bottom. Before you begin indexing a new project, it is best to read through the help screens by clicking on the Project Information tab just below the toolbar.

Now, you're ready to start indexing! If the data entry table does not appear at the bottom of your software window, select the "Table Entry" to bring it back to the front. Select the first field to begin entering data. You can use your computer's TAB key to move from one data field to the next and the arrow keys to move up and down. As you move from one column to the next, look at the Field Help box to the right of the data entry area for specific instructions for how to enter data in that particular field.

Once you're done indexing the entire batch of images, select Submit Batch to submit the completed batch to FamilySearch Indexing. You can also save a batch and work on it again later if you don't have time to complete it all in one sitting. Just keep in mind that you only have the batch for a limited time before it will be automatically returned to go back in the indexing queue.

For further help, answers to frequently asked questions, and indexing tutorials, check out the FamilySearch Indexing Resource Guide.

Ready to Try Your Hand at Indexing?
If you have benefited from the free records available at FamilySearch.org, I hope that you consider spending a little time giving back at FamilySearch Indexing. Just remember. While you are volunteering your time to index someone else's ancestors, they may just be indexing yours!

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Powell, Kimberly. "FamilySearch Indexing: How to Join and Index Genealogical Records." ThoughtCo, Mar. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/join-and-index-genealogical-records-1421964. Powell, Kimberly. (2017, March 3). FamilySearch Indexing: How to Join and Index Genealogical Records. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/join-and-index-genealogical-records-1421964 Powell, Kimberly. "FamilySearch Indexing: How to Join and Index Genealogical Records." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/join-and-index-genealogical-records-1421964 (accessed November 20, 2017).