FamilySearch indexing grew at an unprecedented rate in 2012 thanks in large measure to the 1940 US Census Community Project. A true community effort, the census project attracted more than 184,000 volunteers who collectively indexed more than 132 million records in just over four months. This herculean effort smashed all previous records for indexing and made it possible to publish the searchable census a full two months earlier than anticipated.
July 2 was perhaps the most notable day of the project when more than 46,000 volunteers answered the call to see what could be accomplished in a single 24-hour period. With a stated goal to index five million records in one day, volunteers made what was a previously unthinkable milestone look like child play. When all was said and done, contributors had indexed and arbitrated a combined total of more than 10 million records.
But as significant as the 1940 Census was, it still barely accounted for one-half of the year’s total output of 263 million records. Close on the heels of the 1940 project, volunteers looking for a new challenge dove enthusiastically into the US Immigration & Naturalization Community Project—an effort to index and publish the nation’s vast collection of passenger ship lists, naturalization applications and other immigration-related documents. In total, this collection dwarfs the 1940 US Census with an estimated 500 million total records.
While the FamilySearch indexing effort was cruising along in the US, significant strides were also being made in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Most notable is the massive Italian Ancestors project—a joint effort between FamilySearch and the Italian National Archives to digitize, index and publish the full collection of Italian civil registration records (births, marriages and deaths). The collection represents more than 115 million digital images and upwards of 500 million names. Significant international recruiting efforts are currently underway to assemble a volunteer workforce to index and arbitrate this collection in a timely fashion.
As we move forward on indexing and finding our ancestors, we anticipate that the year 2013 will be a year of significant strides and milestones. We look forward to sharing this journey with you.