Some people ask me, “Where does indexing fit in comparison to other family history priorities?” The answer is simple. All I have to do is ask them when they last searched and found an ancestor on FamilySearch.org.
“Did you enjoy that experience?” I ask. Inevitably they tell me they were thrilled. I then say, “You were able to find that record because somebody indexed it, so you tell me where indexing fits in priority!”
Indexing can’t be separated from the rest of family history any more than you can pick up one end of a stick and not the other. They are inseparably connected to one another in a continuous cycle of family history opportunities, which turns our hearts to our ancestors and leads to the ordinances of the temple.
To truly understand this principle, it is instructive to listen to the words of Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles spoken during the worldwide leadership broadcast in 2011:
“There’s one work,” he explained. “Missionary work is proclaiming the gospel to people who are not yet under covenant. Redeeming the dead is providing ordinances and covenants. Perfecting the saints is the work of inviting people to honor ordinances and covenants. The same work in different spheres, but it’s all one work.”
Indexing is also part of this grand work for the salvation of Heavenly Father’s children. By itself it is insufficient, but joining it with the other aspects of the work helps give millions of souls the possibility of receiving the ordinances of salvation.
Now FamilySearch offers many ways to find, learn about, and remember our beloved ancestors—each of which helps further the work in some way. By participating in any aspect of the work, everyone has the possibility of simultaneously blessing many other lives as well.
It’s a beautiful thing, and it’s only going to get better. If you find yourself overbalanced on one side of the family history equation or another, I encourage you to try out some of these new opportunities. If indexing is “your thing,” try to make some time to contribute some photos or stories about your ancestors. Others will thrill to see the photos and read the stories of their own ancestors that they didn’t know existed.
Or try your hand at adding sources for some of your ancestors in the Family Tree. It’s so easy now and it will help others find clues that will open up their own research. When you have had your fill, search for new information to fill the gaps in your own research. Millions of records are published weekly, raising the odds of finding someone every time you go online. Of course, when you reach those inevitable dead ends, you can do some more indexing and start the cycle all over again.
In the end, every effort we make to contribute to this great work will come back to us in blessings for ourselves, for our ancestors, and for everyone else who has the faith to take the first step. May you be blessed for your efforts to do your part.