Meet David Jackson. He is an indexer from Wheaton, Illinois. David enjoys stamp collecting, astronomy, geography, history, foreign languages, and traveling. David has a passion for research and enjoys discovering new things. He especially loves discovering and learning the stories of his ancestors.
In fourth grade, David was required to do a school project, which involved filling out a pedigree chart. His mother had kept her own handwritten family tree with information she had gathered from asking questions of relatives. He began with that and found himself wanting to learn more.
“I started gathering my own information from that point on, and in 1979, when I was in high school, I truly began doing research with my first courthouse letter. Thirty-five years later, I have traveled to countless courthouses, libraries, archives, cemeteries, and archives around the country. I have also written countless letters to gain information. My work has grown from my first letter, to a small courthouse in central Illinois, to deciphering scanned images of actual Danish parish registers on the Internet.”
On a trip to Lafayette, Illinois, David and his father found they could buy a book containing the history of Stark County. The book was loaded with information, but David was disappointed because it had no index. His father said, “David, why don’t you make an index?” This was in the early 1980s, and David’s dad was one of the few who understood computers. He had a database program, and the two began to set up records. David became one of the first to make a genealogical index on a computer. He worked at it a few hours every day. David created the index for that book and then printed about 40 copies to provide valuable information he knew others would eventually need. David’s strength then, and still today, was his accuracy. He double-checks everything he indexes to make sure it is correct.
David has made many interesting connections with his own family research. A relative gave him information at a funeral that helped him solve a puzzle. He had the name Bodo Morgan as a possible relative and could not figure out how Bodo fit into his family tree. Thanks to the new information, he found out that Bodo was a cousin named for David’s newly discovered ancestor Dr. Bodo Otto, who was in charge of the hospital at Valley Forge. He eventually shared this story with a co-worker, and they found they were both related to Dr. Otto. It truly is a small world!
David learned about Familysearch.org years ago when it had only approximately ten collections of records. Those records included the Ohio Death index, which was extremely helpful to him and his wife, who both have extensive Ohio roots. He soon discovered that FamilySearch was looking for volunteers to help index. He jumped aboard immediately. Why? David understands the joy in finding records that connect individuals to their family. Just as David selflessly served in creating his first computerized index, he dedicates himself to indexing to help others. Thank you, David!
What is your story? How did you become involved with indexing and family history? Share your story in a comment below, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.