Sunday, August 12, 2007

Adventures in FamilySearch Indexing

Well it's Sunday. I've been to church and I've had my Sunday nap. Finally it was time to download a new batch to begin my Sunday session of FamilySearch Indexing. I marked my time to start and began at 5:13 p.m. I was determined to find out how much time it took me to index a batch. Well one hour and 16 minutes later my batch was finally uploaded to FamilySearch. Let me tell you it was an adventure.

1. Since I was doing the timing thing it took 4 minutes to download a batch from the server. I actually wasn't surprised at that. After August's Ensign article I knew that was to be expected. Sunday just seems like a natural day for people to do indexing, especially LDS members. Indexing is a good not breaking the sabbath day activity.

I make a note to myself: Download a batch during the week, index on Sunday, if servers are slow upload on Monday.

2. I was assigned a batch from the Tennessee 1900 U.S. Federal Census. I started off with a bang. Wow, I thought this will be a breeze.

3. Then I hit a few difficulties, no problem, just adjust enlarge the image. Yup, just needed a better view thats all. Again moving right along.

4. Alright somebody doesn't know their math. I know I'm not having a problem seeing the images. I decide to index what I see, enter the year as it stands even though the age is way off. I was indexing a page and everyone was of the black race and a majority of them were boarders, born right after the Civil War. It just had to be an educational opportunity thing. Wow, did I ever start thinking of these people and their life. I wonder how many African American genealogist are going to scream when they find their family members in the census.

Seeing that most where boarders I wasn't surprised to find everyone born in Tennessee. It just goes to show you the accuracy of the information gathered is dependent on the source. How many owners of these boarding houses really knew where the boarders and their parents where born? As for the ages and year of birth... I could just hear the census taker saying "Ma'am, I'm just gonna write what you tell me."

5. Near the bottom of my page disaster strikes. It looks like water and tape. I tried everything to read the names. It was so random what I could make out on the page. I wanted so badly to get the stuff I transcribed right. Now if it was mine own research I would of taken the digital image and played with it in a graphics program. Since I had to work with the tools given me I tried all of them. The blue highlight just wasn't cutting it. Why can't I change the color of the highlight? I really wanted yellow to look at this. I was thinking I would get my yellow transparent sheet and put it up on my computer screen and see if it makes a difference. Then I remembered I creased it and threw it was on my to-do list to get a new one.

6. The clock is ticking and I was feeling the pressure. My pride started to get the best of me. If I report how long it takes to do just one census page, 50 names, my readers are going to think I am really slow and don't know how to do this. Then a voice of reason hits me. Why am I doing indexing in the first place? For my readers? For the stats? Get your priorities straight here girl. I get up and decide to take a break.

7. I decided a little prayer was in order. Why I didn't start my indexing session like that in the first place I will never know. Ya, I even had it in my head that maybe I would come back and the images would be brighter. We've heard of those miracles happening with indexing. Unfortunately as I came back to my page I had this little thought of WOW, wouldn't it be cool if a miracle did happen and I could report on it? As I scanned the faint areas of the page I realized no such profound miracle. I made out a few more letters but nothing earth shaking. Then I thought I just had a Joseph Smith and the gold plates moment. Remember as he first see the plates sitting in the stone box he had uncovered on the Hill Cumorah. He thought of their value and how the gold could help his humble family's conditions. As he reaches to touch them he is given a shock and told he couldn't have them until he met a few conditions, one of them was not to seek them for monetary gain. Yes, I realized my reporting on my adventures in indexing was not very conductive to the entertaining of miracles happening to me.

Note to myself: Say a prayer before indexing. Ask others for their experiences because you are going to live vicariously through them.

8. Having decided that I really want to index these names for those who are going to be using the end result and hopefully for the re-uniting of families, I decide to index on. I determine to do the very best that I can. I am very into details so I will use that gift to index MY PEOPLE. Yes it was an adventure and not the one I had planned. I am now a indexer of people and not number and stats. Yes, I will keep my final count, I really love numbers and facts. But I don't want to worry or think about how long it takes me to do it. I'm not in a race, even though they can be fun and motivating. If someone asks me how long it takes to do a batch I will say "As long as it takes to get it right". Ya, the norm is 30 minutes but don't strive to just be normal, give indexing your best. We are dealing with precious things here someone's history that just might make it into the book of life.

So readers, as I end my Sunday Adventure in FamilySearch Indexing I have a plea. Will you send me your stories of Indexing. How has this adventure changed your life? Have you had any miracles or moments of profound insight? I love faith promoting stories and would love to pass them on. Please email your stories to me at:

Grand total 200 individuals indexed, number of lives effected un-numbered, but someday I'll know.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!


Renee Zamora said...

Note to myself: only 50 individuals indexed this day. 200 is the grand total since starting to index. Just have to get my facts straight.

Mitch said...

Renee, you can change the highlighter color. I use yellow almost all the time. Go to TOOLS, then OPTIONS and pick a color. You can also play with TRANSPARENCY - I have used that successfully.
Another trick worth trying is the INVERT CURRENT IMAGE. The icon looks like an upper case C in script on a page split between black (right hand side) and white (left hand side).
If unsure of the first letter in a name look at the month. They give clues for A, D, F, J, M, N, O and S.
Finally, try changing the size (you might have mentioned this one).
For dates, the children are almost always listed in order. Check the ages and dates above and below. The date and age should add up to 1899 if late in the year (after the date of the census and this date will show up at the top of each page (16 June 1900 on my current page).