“I’ve never been successful getting started,” she sighed, desperation creeping across her down-turned lips. Picking up her books and straightening her blouse, JoAnn turned to leave. As a friend, I was hopeful she wouldn’t get far without having a successful family history experience.
“Have you ever tried indexing?” I asked.
As it turns out, indexing became a stepping-stone to fulfill a desire in JoAnn to participate in family history work—despite her limited time and inexperience. Even though family history is getting easier all the time, beginning personal research can still feel overwhelming. Thankfully, indexing provides some much-needed, introductory, family history education, such as:
- Knowledge about Record Types. Genealogical records come in many varieties; indexing introduces volunteers to significant genealogical records with coordinating images they can download and review.
- Genealogical Information. Each record type contains unique genealogical information, which can be discovered by indexers as they explore a variety of indexing projects.
- Handwriting Practice. From beginning to advanced projects, old handwriting can be practiced and checked as indexing is completed.
How can these three introductory steps help you? For example, a beginning researcher could download Draft Registration Cards (see the image below) and practice his or her handwriting skills while learning what genealogical information is recorded on this type of document.
New researchers can also volunteer as much or as little time as they want; everything they contribute is saved online. In addition, when volunteers submit their work, they are adding to the searchable genealogical database at familysearch.org.
With a variety of records currently available to index—birth, marriage, death, census, civil, probate, naturalization, immigration, and military records—novice researchers, like JoAnn, can be introduced to indexing, which will help them gain confidence in starting their own research as they become familiar with different types of handwriting and genealogical records.
Do you know someone like JoAnn? Invite him or her to index! Visit familysearch.org/volunteer/indexing for more information and to get started!