Family Search seeking volunteer indexers

Family Search needs indexersWhen I was at Roots Tech, I was struck by the generosity of genealogists.  One of the things I was inspired to do while there was to sign up as an indexer for The patient staffer at their booth took me through the sign up process and I was on my way.

Indexes make records searchable. The reason that you’re able to do an online search on a name at Family Search or Ancestry or any other genealogy website is that humans have gone through documents, like Census records, and marriage and death records and entered the information on them into a database, which often requires deciphering handwriting. When we search, we’re searching the index. At Roots Tech, Family Search was recruiting volunteers to help index obituaries, but they’re needed for all sorts of records.

Family Search’s indexing is a project of mammoth proportions. In 2014 alone, over 111,000 volunteers have completed some 33 million records, with another 14 records awaiting arbitration. (Each record is indexed by two different volunteers and when their results don’t match, a trained arbitrator decides which is right.)

That’s a whole lot of work–and Family Search relies on volunteers to do that work. You can do it from the comfort of your home and know that you’re contributing to the research of others. You may learn further your own research while you’re at it! If you sign up, you’ll be required to download some software onto your computer and once that’s done and you’ve taken a tutorial or two, you can get started.

For more information and to sign up, go the the Family Search Indexing page.


  1. I’ve been indexing obituaries lately. It’s really kind of fun. There are some really interesting stories to be found. I hardly indexed anything last year, but did a lot of the 1940 census in 2012. If you’re indexing and are on facebook, you should join the Share Batch Indexing, Etc. group. It’s full of extremely knowledgeable and helpful indexers and arbitrators who can answer just about any question you have as you go along.

  2. I fully agree. Of course I index with the hope to find some of my ancestors. But when my German projects had been done, I didn’t hesitate to start a new one with US documents. Genealogists share.. that’s what we do. That’s how get our stories!

  3. I index for and think it is amazing to watch the number of records increase with every submission! I just wish I had more time to do my transcribing and family tree, having just increased the number of hours I work!

  4. I LOVE being an Indexer / Arbitrator for FamilySearch. I feel it is a way that I can serve the entire world from the comfort of my own home. I take comfort in knowing that the work that I and others do for FamilySearch will always remain free to any that want to use it. It is exciting to think that the name that I just submitted might be the long-lost ancestor that someone has been searching for. Today’s technologies have opened genealogical work like never before. I revel in being able to contribute and was able to submit almost 140,000 names in 2013. Everyone should try it. You might just catch the bug! Props to you, Janine, for giving back. Great post!

    • Amanda, thank you for your wonderful comment! I love your perspective on how rewarding it is to be an indexer. And how great that you’re an arbitrator, too! I’m amazed that you submitted 140,000 names. Wow! That’s inspirational.

  5. Hi Janine,

    I’ve done indexing and arbitrating, although not as much as I should recently. It really is a great way to give back. Thank you for your post!

    I want to let you know that two of your blog posts are listed in today’s Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  6. Karin Coppernoll says:

    I started indexing just last year as a way to give back to the genealogy community. I’m hooked. It’s just as addicting as researching my own family. They make it quite easy and there is a lot of help.

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