Have you ever wondered why FamilySearch adds fields to indexing projects if they are not “<Required>”? Are these optional fields really optional? The short answer to this second question is no. For a better understanding, let’s rewind, and take a look behind the scenes at optional fields.
FamilySearch captures records by flipping through old genealogical books and taking digital pictures of each page. Back in the day, recorders sometimes included different certificates, forms, and languages all in the same book! The order in which these pages are digitized (random as they may be) is the order in which they appear for indexing. To deal with these inconsistencies, our indexing strategy is to provide many of the significant fields you may uncover in each project.
In cases where information is rarely recorded on a record, a field for this information may be provided in the project, but not identified as required. In contrast, information that is typically on every image—name, surname, event, date, and such, data that is essential for creating a searchable database—is identified as a required field.
As you can see, optional fields are only optional because the information may not exist on every image. If the requested information is available on a record, we ask that it be indexed, according to the project instructions.*
Thank you for transferring as much information as possible into our database, where millions of names can be shared and discovered.
* Official indexing helps say, “Required fields are listed as <Required> in the field. If a required field is blank, you must mark it as blank. If a nonrequired field is blank, tab over it to leave it empty, and move on. You do not need to mark it as blank.”