Tougher than First Expected
At the end of June, FamilySearch indexers had completed the indexing of more than 100 million records, including the step of arbitration. With great momentum and half of the year to go, the indexing team decided to change the indexing goal for the year from 170 million records to 200 million records, a sizable increase. The team also decided to publicize this goal, so all of the indexing volunteers could become aware of the goal and work together in accomplishing this monumental objective.
The launch of the 1930 census at the beginning of August was expected to increase both interest in indexing and productivity to help accomplish the goal of 200 million records; however, the actual impact has been mixed.
1930 Census Impact
Census records are among the most popular records amongst indexers because of the density of names and consistent organization. The 1910 and 1920 U.S. Federal Census projects were completed in an amazingly short period of time thanks to the combined efforts of our volunteers. These projects leveraged the existing index created by Ancestry.com as a key, so volunteers only needed to create one additional key prior to arbitration.
Indexing the 1930 U.S. Federal Census project, however, is a little different from the 1910 and 1920 census projects. When Ancestry.com initially keyed the 1930 census, they didn’t include a few key fields in the process. This means that volunteers will be providing both the A-key and the B-key for these new fields. This is also why some batches appear to be only partially indexed when they are first downloaded and that some fields were skipped entirely.
Those blank fields that appear to have been “skipped” are the fields that weren’t included in the original index created by Ancestry.com. These batches that appear to have skipped fields contain the final index created by Ancestry.com, which didn’t include these new fields. This adds complexity to the project and requires more indexing than the previous U.S. Federal Census projects in which FamilySearch has participated.
The increased amount of effort to index these census batches means that more indexing is required to generate the same number of records being arbitrated. This also means that although we are having record days for indexing productivity, the net output as measured by arbitrated records has actually decreased slightly.
There is still time to reach the goal of indexing 200 million records in 2010, but we will all need to work together and be creative to achieve the goal. You may want to invite more friends and family to participate in indexing or may want to share your insights for being productive with others through personal training or more casually on the FamilySearch indexing page on Facebook.
Even if we aren’t able to reach the goal of 200 million records, it will still be fun to see what we can accomplish together.