August 31, 2015

Join the Family History Relay Race: FamilySearch Worldwide Indexing Event

FS Worldwide Indexing Event 2015The FamilySearch Worldwide Indexing Event: It’s like a big, happy relay race for family historians: a display of skill with record-setting accomplishments and the coming together of a community for a cause.

Last year, 66,511 FamilySearch indexers helped set a new record for the most people indexing in a 24-hour period. Their efforts resulted in more than 5.7 million records being processed in a single day!

This year, we encourage you to participate in FamilySearch’s Worldwide Indexing Event from August 7-14, 2015. “You have one week to participate by indexing at least one batch in the language of your choice,” said FamilySearch in an invitation to current indexers. “If you are fluent in French, Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish-our focus languages for 2015-please help index records in one of those languages. Let’s help our friends in other countries to find their ancestors too! All it takes is one batch indexed sometime during the week to be counted.” (Special training is available.)

I’ve learned that indexing for others feels great, but I get something out of it, too. I use indexing to become more familiar with different record types, like naturalization records, border crossings or church registers (my favorite record type) from different places or time periods. I become better at reading old handwriting and picking out genealogical details from old documents–great skills that help me in my own research!

Last year, more than 18,000 new indexers joined the fun during the 24-hour challenge. Why not do the same this year? Click here to learn more about FamilySearch volunteer indexing or read the articles below to learn about other indexing opportunities out there.

Resources:

how to start a genealogy blogFind Your Ancestor in Freedmen’s Bureau Records–Or Help Others Do the Same

Want to Help Index De-Classified CIA Records?

Volunteer Gem: He Indexed Milwaukee Journal Obituaries Himself

 

Want to Help Index De-Classified CIA Records?

classifiedBy now, many of us have tried our hand at volunteer indexing and transcribing projects. We can index censuses, civil and church vital records, gravestone images, and more with FamilySearch, BillionGraves, Ancestry’s World Archives Project and even with individual archives like The Congregational Library.

What about de-classified CIA records and other government documents? Love letters between President Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson? These are among the indexing projects currently on the National Archives (US) Citizen Archivist dashboard.

“We have millions of pages of digitized records available in our online catalog,” says the Citizen Archivist website. “Transcription is an important way for us to improve search results and increase accessibility to our historical records. Your contributions make a big impact.” Other current projects include Confederate government papers, interviews relating to the September 11 terrorist attacks and letters to President Eisenhower about integrating schools.

These are all historically vital important records for the U.S. that may also shed light on our ancestors’ lives. My grandfather worked on classified government projects and I’m hoping to find his name in formerly “top secret” papers someday! Why not give it a try–index a batch of records through the National Archives Citizen Archivist project?

how to start a genealogy blogLearn more about inspiring genealogy volunteers on our blog! On the lower left side of the Genealogy Gems home page, click the category “Volunteer.” See what others do to help–and perhaps you’ll get inspired yourself!

 

 

BillionGraves Challenge for June: Win a FitBit!

BillionGraves June challengeAfter a long winter in the U.S., it’s finally warming up! Just last week I did my first BillionGraves cemetery field trip of the season. So I’m pleased to see that they’re offering a BillionGraves challenge to those who take pictures or index:

“This month we are giving away Fitbit’s 5 cutting edge fitness monitoring devices to the top 5 photographers AND transcribers! Read the details on our blog HERE.

“It can’t be any better than doing your favorite thing- taking pictures of headstones and transcribing them, AND winning prizes! So take advantage of the rising temperatures to capture some headstone images at your local cemetery or get your transcribing game on.”

We’ve blogged about BillionGraves before: it’s a leading site for capturing cemetery headstones around the world. Their free app (for iPhone and Android) makes it easy to find a cemetery near you (wherever you are) that needs imaging; use your smart phone to take geo-tagged tombstone photos; transcribe any images you care to; and upload them to their site. (I always upload when I return home so my phone will upload images using my home’s wi-fi instead of charging me data.) But you can also participate in the challenge by indexing records already on their site, if cemetery visits aren’t your thing.

Got kids who are out of school and looking for something to do? Take them with you to image headstones. My kids don’t necessarily prefer this to going to the pool, but they’re game sometimes, especially if a stop at an ice cream stand is part of the deal. Here’s Lisa Louise Cooke’s interview with BillionGraves staffer and tips for getting started:

Join the Crowd: International Indexing Challenge THIS Sunday

join_the_puzzle_crowd_400_wht_10889FamilySearch is hosting a worldwide crowd-sourcing challenge aimed at establishing a new record for the most volunteer indexing participants online in a single day.

The challenge will take place during the 24-hour period beginning at 6:00 p.m. (MDT in Utah, USA) on Sunday, July 20. (Local start times and status updates can be found on the FamilySearch Facebook event page.) Already one of the largest and most successful volunteer transcription programs in history, FamilySearch indexing is looking to top its one-day record of 49,025 individual contributors.

“Our stated goal is 50,000 volunteers participating in a single day, though we think the potential exists to surpass that mark by a considerable amount,” said Mike Judson, indexing workforce manager for FamilySearch. “All it takes to be counted in the record is to submit one batch. With hundreds of thousands of past indexing volunteers and thousands more joining weekly, breaking the record won’t take much if people will commit to spend the 30 minutes or so required to finish and submit a batch.”

Indexing  is the process of transcribing information from historical documents to make them freely searchable online at FamilySearch.org. FamilySearch indexers perform the initial transcribing of names from home or wherever they can connect to the Internet. FamilySearch arbitrators (advanced indexers) check to ensure consistency and accuracy. Since FamilySearch indexing started in 2006, this crowdsourcing effort has produced more than one billion freely searchable records that have helped millions of people to find their ancestors.

The prior record of 49,025 indexers and arbitrators in a single day was set on July 2, 2012. To be counted in the new record, each indexer or arbitrator must submit at least one indexing or arbitration batch during the 24-hour period. Volunteers and potential volunteers can visit https://familysearch.org/indexing/ to learn more.

Indexing projects are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German, Polish, Swedish, Dutch, Russian, and Japanese. Volunteers are invited to work on any project but are strongly encouraged to work in their native language.

Obituaries in Newspapers are Going Online

custom_classifieds_12091 (1)More obituaries gleaned from newspapers are going online. This is welcome news for those researching their  genealogy.

Recently I blogged about BillionGraves’ new Supporting Records feature that allows users to upload documentation relating to ancestors’ deaths. This paves the way for more obituaries to be paired with ancestral tombstones and other resources. At RootsTech we learned about 2 more online obit projects:

Newspaper Obituaries at FamilySearch

1. FamilySearch is spearheading the indexing of millions of obituaries from the U.S.,  followed by other nations. CEO Dennis Brimhall announced this initiative in his keynote speech at RootsTech. “Estimates claim over 500 million obituaries exist in the U.S. alone,” said Dennis Brimhall, FamilySearch CEO. “The average obituary can contain the names of about ten family members of the deceased—parents, spouse, children, and other relatives. Making them easily searchable online can be an enormous future source for creating our family histories. The number of people who will benefit is incalculable. It could very well be the single largest preservation and access project of its kind, and will no doubt be one of the most used online collections worldwide as it grows.”

The timing of completion depends on volunteer efforts, Brimhall says. He hopes to see 100 million names indexed in 2014, but that will require “tens of thousands of additional volunteers.”  (Want to help? Go to FamilySearch.org/indexing.)

Upload Newspaper Obituaries at ObitsAncestry

ObitsAncestry2. A new website, ObitsAncestry.com, allows individuals to upload obituaries for free, along with up to 4 related images. The obituary webpage is like the memorial pages hosted by many funeral homes, where loved ones can post comments and memories. But there’s no advertising, so it’s very respectful and “quiet.” Anyone searching for that loved one’s name will find the obituary indexed by major search engines. And perhaps most useful for the future, “All obituaries submitted to ObitsAncestry.com will be indexed and linked by familysearch.org for family history and genealogical purposes.” That gives me a little more confidence in the “staying power” of obituaries I would post there. The site just launched during RootsTech, so their database is growing now.

Available at http://genealogygems.com

Available at http://genealogygems.com

Of course many obituaries are already searchable through digitized newspaper websites. But the accuracy rate for searching these isn’t as high–I’ve seen it reported it as about 60%. Which is a great start, don’t get me wrong, but I’m so pleased that better searching of obituaries is in the works!

Want to learn more about using newspapers and obituaries in genealogy? Check out Lisa’s book How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers.

New FamilySearch Indexing Website Launches

FS Indexing screenshotAre you a FamilySearch indexer, or have you considered joining this worldwide volunteer effort? FamilySearch has just launched a new website that’s all about making indexing EASIER.

If you’re already an indexer, here are the highlights of the new site, according to FamilySearch:

  • Getting started with indexing just got easier. With an easy-to-navigate Overview page and an all-new Get Started page, the new website is the perfect introduction to indexing.
  • Looking for more indexing help? Check out the completely redesigned resource guide. Now called Help Resources, this page guides you to the help you need.
  • Find projects you want faster. In the old indexing website, you had to scroll through over 200 projects, now you can click on an interactive map and filter the project list based on language and country.

But wait, there’s more! According to FamilySearch, “The change in the indexing website is just the first step in a total redesign and improvement of the indexing experience. The coming year will see the all-new indexing program become more integrated with FamilySearch.org, bringing indexing to your Internet browser, enabling indexing on tablet devices, and much more.”

They plan to announce more at RootsTech next month, where there will be a session on FamilySearch indexing and where the FamilySearch booth will have hands-on opportunities to try out the new system. (Haven’t registered for RootsTech yet? Register here! Early-bird pricing has been extended until Monday, Jan. 27.)

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P.S. WHY INDEX?

Indexers for FamilySearch have already generated more than a billion names that are free to search at FamilySearch.org. The company’s press release points out that improvements to the indexing site have in the past accelerated the pace of indexing and they expect that to happen over the coming year, too.

 

Here’s my favorite tip for the researcher who wants a little more out of indexing for themselves. Use indexing to become more familiar with different record types. Do a few batches of naturalization records, border crossings, church registers, etc., from different places or time periods, and you’ll quickly become more familiar with that record type. You’ll also become more adept at reading old handwriting, picking out the genealogical details from the legalese and other skills that will help you in your own research.

More Family History Records on FamilySearch.org

Thanks a BillionFamilySearch.org keeps adding records at a phenomenal pace, thanks in large part to the efforts of thousands of volunteer indexers around the world. In fact, they recently celebrated the billionth record indexed since they started community indexing in September 2006.

Here’s a list of online collections with records recently added or improved. Do you notice that this new list is “browsable only?” That means you can scroll through them online, but there’s not a searchable index yet. FamilySearch staff and volunteers are imaging record sets even faster than indexers can get them indexed!
Want to help? Join over 133,000 active indexers who index projects of their choice, from U.S. naturalizations to Brazilian church records. Join the effort here.

Collection

Indexed Records

Digital Images

Comments

Australia, Tasmania, Civil Registration, 1803-1933

0

73,580

New browsable image collection.

England, Northumberland, Miscellaneous Records, 1570-2005

0

11,631

Added images to an existing collection.

Italy, Bari, Trani, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1910

0

6,549

Added images to an existing collection.

Italy, Caserta, Santa Maria Capua Vetere, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1929

0

2,961

Added images to an existing collection.

Philippines, La Union, Diocese of San Fernando de La Union, 1801-1981

0

25,464

New browsable image collection.

Spain, Cádiz, Testaments, 1550-1920

0

48,616

Added images to an existing collection.

Spain, Province of Cádiz, Municipal Records, 1784-1931

0

49,363

New browsable image collection.

Spain, Records of Widows and Orphans of Spanish Officials, 1835-1960

0

44,021

Added images to an existing collection.

U.S., Missouri, Cole County Circuit Court Case Files, 1820-1926

0

28,638

Added images to an existing collection.

U.S., Ohio, Southern District Naturalization Index, 1852-1991

0

92,436

New browsable image collection.

U.S., South Dakota, County Naturalization Records, 1865-1972

0

124,277

New browsable image collection.

lection  Indexed Records  Digital Images  Comments 
Australia, Tasmania, Civil Registration, 1803-1933  0 73,580 New browsable image collection. 
England, Northumberland, Miscellaneous Records, 1570-2005  0 11,631 Added images to an existing collection. 
Italy, Bari, Trani, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1910  0 6,549 Added images to an existing collection. 
Italy, Caserta, Santa Maria Capua Vetere, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1929  0 2,961 Added images to an existing collection. 
Philippines, La Union, Diocese of San Fernando de La Union, 1801-1981  0 25,464 New browsable image collection. 
Spain, Cádiz, Testaments, 1550-1920  0 48,616 Added images to an existing collection. 
Spain, Province of Cádiz, Municipal Records, 1784-1931  0 49,363 New browsable image collection. 
Spain, Records of Widows and Orphans of Spanish Officials, 1835-1960  0 44,021 Added images to an existing collection. 
U.S., Missouri, Cole County Circuit Court Case Files, 1820-1926  0 28,638 Added images to an existing collection. 
U.S., Ohio, Southern District Naturalization Index, 1852-1991  0 92,436 New browsable image collection. 
U.S., South Dakota, County Naturalization Records, 1865-1972  0 124,277 New browsable image collection. 
Brazil, Civil Registration, 1870-2012 0 44,220 Added images to an existing collection.
Germany, Brandenburg, Berlin, Probate Records, 1796-1853 0 449,478 New browsable image collection.
Germany, Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach, Jena, City Directories, 1810-1935 0 3,721 New browsable image collection.
Germany, Saxe-Meiningen, Saalfeld an der Saale, Miscellaneous City Records, 1876-1920 0 8,433 New browsable image collection.
Italy, Benevento, Benevento, Civil Registration (Comune), 1861-1929 0 5,700 Added images to an existing collection.
Italy, Cagliari, Cagliari, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1929 0 53,195 Added images to an existing collection.
Italy, Siracusa, Siracusa, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1900-1942 0 146,387 New browsable image collection.
Luxembourg, Census Records, 1843-1900 0 199 Added images to an existing collection.
Netherlands, Bibliothéque Wallonne, Card Indexes, ca. 1500-1858 0 1,033,852 New browsable image collection.
Peru, Huánuco, Civil Registration, 1889-1997 0 13,015 Added images to an existing collection.
Peru, Junín, Civil Registration, 1890-2005 0 43,771 Added images to an existing collection.
Peru, La Libertad, Civil Registration, 1903-1998 0 28,331 New browsable image collection.
Ukraine, Kyiv Orthodox Consistory Church Book Duplicates, 1840-1845 149,902 0 Added index records to an existing collection.
U.S., Alabama, Estate Files, 1830-1976 0 181,004 Added images to an existing collection.
U.S., Maryland, Probate Estate and Guardianship Files, 1796-1940 16,963 173,751 Added index records and images to an existing collection.
U.S., Oregon, Tillamook County Records, 1854-1967 0 64,546 New browsable image collection.
U.S., Washington, County Records, 1856-2009 0 210 Added images to an existing collection.
Venezuela, Archdiocese of Merida, Catholic Church Records, 1654-2012 0 7,472 Added images to an existing collection.

FamilySearch Volunteer Opportunity: US Immigration & Naturalization Genealogy Project

The following was announced today by FamilySearch:

More than 160,000 volunteer indexers made the 1940 U.S. Census available for searching in just five months. The project was an unprecedented success that dramatically illustrated what the genealogical community can accomplish when united in a common cause.

Now many volunteers are turning their attention to the U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Community Project, an indexing effort to make passenger lists, naturalization records, and other immigration related records freely searchable online. Hundreds of thousands of North American volunteers are expected to contribute over the next 18-24 months, focusing initially on passenger lists from the major US ports.

Individuals, societies and other groups that want to participate should visit familysearch.org/immigration to learn more.

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