For Christmas 2010, our family acquired a new puppy we called “Bruno.” For a puppy, he was even tempered, fairly obedient, and, to my knowledge, only chewed one pair of shoes. But Bruno doesn’t like new situations. As a puppy, anything new, like riding in a car or new sights and sounds experienced while hiking, would cause him to physically shake and sit stubbornly on the ground, refusing to cooperate. When he was a puppy, we would just pick him up and take him with us, thinking he would grow out of this behavior. He is now 18 months old, fully grown, fairly well trained, and yet when faced with new situations, he still reacts the same way. Except now we have to use a different strategy, because he weighs about 60 pounds.
It’s normal for animals—and even humans—to resist change. Change usually means we have to adjust out of our comfort zone. Knowing that change will occur gives us time to mentally gear up and an opportunity to prepare. Having key information like why, when, how, and what is happening can dispel some of the anxiety that naturally occurs with change.
FamilySearch’s amazing volunteers have made short work of the 1940 US Census, and soon it will be time to bid this incredible project farewell. Who knew more than 140,000 people would show up and rally so diligently around the 1940 US Census Community Project? The speed of completion surpassed everyone’s expectations, and the result is simply incredible! Thank you for contributing your time and energy to such a monumental project!
Now we have the opportunity to turn our attention and energy to another monumental task—one that is even larger than the 1940 US Census. We call this new initiative the “US Immigration and Naturalization Community Project,” and we want YOU to join us in this new adventure.
About Immigration and Naturalization Records
Immigration and naturalization records are important to everyone. As change occurred around the world, people moved and adjusted to their new situations. Many of these immigrants came to America because it offered the promise of a better situation than they could find in their native countries. Making these immigration and naturalization records accessible will help millions discover why and when their ancestors migrated and where they came from. As genealogy researchers, we have all had roadblocks that have stalled our ability to find out what happened to a great-grandparent or other extended family members. Working together as a community, we now have an awesome opportunity to finally unlock the information many people need to get past their roadblocks.
So, what do you need to know to ease any lingering anxiety about trying these new records?
First of all, these records look different than the 1940 US Census records. With the 1940 US Census, you grew accustomed to seeing a single, consistent form with 40 lines. Immigration and naturalization records come in a variety of forms because they were kept by a number of different government entities. Some are federal forms, and some are state or even city- or port-specific. Some record the names of ship passengers, while others give information about newly naturalized US citizens. Don’t let the different looks of the forms confuse you. Your job is still to index the names, dates, and places required by each project.
When beginning a new project, I find it helpful to download 10 batches at a time. This often gives me ten batches from a common location or recorded by a single individual. By the time I have indexed the 10th batch, I really understand the documents and the handwriting of the recorder.
Second, I educate myself on the type of records I will index. FamilySearch has several places that I can go for help, including the project instructions, the project updates, and the field helps. You can find them in the FamilySearch indexing tool after you download and open a batch. For general help, the Basic Indexing Guidelines are always a good resource.
When working with a new record type, I find that if I take the extra time to learn more about the project, I have a better understanding of what is being captured and why it’s important. You can learn more about the different projects on our Project page or on the FamilySearch wiki.
Lastly, practice, practice, practice…need I say more? Before long, you’ll become familiar with immigration and naturalization records, and they’ll feel as natural to you as the 1940 US Census.
When you have questions, call your stake indexing director or group administrator. If you don’t know who they are, look under the Help menu in the indexing software for Contact Support. There you will find any local contacts for your stake or group, as well as the telephone and e-mail address for FamilySearch Support. Of course you can always join our FamilySearch indexing Facebook page, where there are many advanced indexers you can turn to for help.
Projects from the new US Immigration and Naturalization Community Project are available now. Just look for the special designation “US (Community Project)” in the batch download box to get started.
This article was written by Kris Jackson