Monday, April 28, 2008

Adventures in FamilySearch Indexing - Week 40

Well, I've reached the big 40 - I've consistently been indexing for 40 weeks! If that hasn't developed the habit in me I don't know what else would have. And you thought I was talking about it being my birthday - NOT. So I didn't index on Sunday - Monday is still in the same week! Flexibility gives you less stress. I was busy making backup DVD copies of my hard drive.

My computer has been acting very weird lately. Loud beeping alarms sound, sometimes it freezes up and I can't even get the task manager to come up so I can shut it down. I have to power off the surge protector to get it to shut off and then the clock reverts back to 1999. I don't know how to repair computers but I know enough that something big is planning on blowing up on me!

It is such a struggle to get things done with it at times. One night I had to hard boot the computer seven times. Then on other days it works fine - kinda slow but it works. I think this 8 year old computer's end is coming near. I have used it every day. It has been a loyal faithful friend and I will continue to push it until it is no more. The computer store I bought it from went out of business a couple of years ago, so I called the company that is honoring their warranty - labor only and they told me they couldn't get parts for it anymore. They will give me $200 as a trade in value for it to apply towards a new one for the starting price of $1,450, with a lifetime warranty. Lifetime warranties don't impress me anymore because the last company said that and went out of business. I guess I need to start shopping and comparing prices.

At least I have one comfort if my computer dies, excuse me, when it dies - I have great backups. I have backups on DVDs, CDs, and an external hard drive, plus Mozy. The computer guy was trying to prepare me over the phone that I needed to do that and he was amazed this old lady knew about backups. Been there, done that! The major pain in the butt will be installing all my old programs. I wonder how FamilySearch Indexing runs on Vista? I ignored some comments about it on the message boards a few days ago. I guess I better find out.

No matter what happens FamilySearch Indexing will still happen and so will my articles. I have an old laptop that is working much better than my PC right now. In fact I am going to have to take a long look at if I should buy a laptop or a PC this time around. Isn't life just grand - never a dull moment.

Well back to FamilySearch Indexing - I was surprised to see two messages from Headquarters this week. Here is the first one.
From: Headquarters
Subject: Freedmen Letters project
Date: 24 Apr 2008

We need your help! We have partnered with the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia and its volunteers to index the Freedmen Letters. Our goal is to finish in early June. This means we need help from as many indexers as possible, especially those with an inherent interest in African American history and genealogy.

The project is available from the Download From... menu. It is different from most of the other indexing projects. Please read the project-specific instructions before indexing your first batch. If you still have questions, please call Indexing Support at 1-866-406-1830 or send an e-mail to

The Freedman Letters from Virginia are the first collection we have worked with from the Freedman's Bureau records, held in the National Archives. Data created by this and subsequent Freedmen's Bureau projects will enable historians and descendants of emancipated slaves, freed Blacks, and Black Union soldiers to access historical information, much of which was never before available.

The Freedmen's Bureau records provide the earliest major compilation of information on many freedmen, documenting for the period 1865-1872 their names, legalized marriages, educational pursuits, work contracts, and receipt of rations, health care, legal, and other support.
This inspired me to do a batch of the Freedmen Letters. It wasn't hard to do, I indexed 41 names. I guess I didn't quite feel the spirit of the project yet. There were no vital records or facts in my letters to help me feel a connection to the individuals. I guess I need to work on it some more.

Here is the second message for us.
From: Headquarters
Subject: Indexing Support E-mail Address Change
Date: 24 Apr 2008


The Indexing Support e-mail address will be changing to in the next few days. The old address ( should work for the time being. If you are having difficulties sending e-mails to the old address, please start sending your e-mails to the new address immediately. The Indexing Support phone number will continue to be 1-866-406-1830.

Stake extraction directors and group administrators: Please update any presentation, training materials, or handouts that you use. We greatly appreciate your help in circulating this new information.
I decided I needed to do more indexing so I went ahead and indexed a batch of the Irish Death Indexes - 1945-1958. I indexed 216 names and got credit for 250 records indexed. Right now I have a total of 6,777 records indexed to date. I am really into my Irish records. I just love the names and feel so connected to them. I feel like they are my people but as of yet I have found no Irish ancestors - YET - I hope I do someday.

On the Washington Co, NY mailing list this week they were talking about how some Irish people settled in that area. I do have some cousins marrying people from Ireland but I hadn't given it much thought on how many where in the area. My dead end lines in Washington County are Bentley, Scranton, Green, Hewitt, Robinson (Robertson) and Lamphear. I have indexed some Greens, Hewitts and Robinsons in the Irish records and can just dream that they might be my distant relatives.

I don't know how many of you feel a connection to the names you index but I just have to in order to actually want to index. Without a connection to the people you would feel like you are just wasting your time. When you get a connection, indexing becomes the adventure and a reward in itself. You don't really have to be related in order to feel a connection to them. It's the human story the captivates you. Are there twins in the families, how many died young or really really old. What kind of adventures did the family have moving from the east to the west and having children in different states along the way. There are just so many stories its the human element that compels you.

Projects do warm and grow on you and I guess thats how I am now with the Freedman Letters. It's a tragic and marvelous story all at the same time. I don't have slave ancestry in my family and I only know of one ancestor that had a slave. I guess I need to get into the letters and feel their story. It's kind of hard without the dates to identify anyone with. At least my first batch was that way. Yup it is going to take some time to grow on me, but I'm game enough to give it a try.

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


Thomas MacEntee said...


I enjoy your indexing posts especially since I am considering joining in on the fun. And you are correct that it helps to have a "connection" with the data. I recently became a volunteer indexer for the Daily Obit Times. I am indexing all the obituaries in my hometown paper plus serving as a lookup contact for the full text of those obituaries.

In terms of the impending expiration of your PC and the possibly of a new one, I have some recommendations on both a) trying to troubleshoot a problematic computer and b) how to analyze what you need/want in a new computer. Either contact me directly, or if you think others might benefit from this topic, I'll do a separate post.


Kim said...


Your blog is great. I read it all the time. I would like to ask you - do you know why the Norway vital records were posted at the Labs Record Search site, and then removed? Also, any work as to when the Irish vital records run might be posted? I no longer see them in the "indexing now" or "coming in the future" lists.

Thanks for all the great info.

Renee Zamora said...

You probably have seen already that the Irish Vital Records are still being indexed. I have no word when they will be available on Records Search. I did just check and the Norway VR are on there. They might of just fixed whatever the previous problem was with them. I'm not sure what that was.

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