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Genealogy Volunteer Opportunities

Updated on August 14, 2013

The Family History Library has the largest collection of genealogical records in the world. It is a part of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints, but everyone can have access to its services. The library is based in Salt Lake City, Utah, but has branches all over the world.

And most importantly, it has a Family Search website, where you can search for your ancestors from the convenience of your own home. From this website, you can enter your ancestor's name, and find many different types of records, including birth records, death records, marriage records, military records and census records. Many times, an image is available that you can examine and download. All of this valuable information is provided free of charge. They have entered into partnerships with other companies to gather even more records, and some of these records may require a fee or membership to the partner's site, but it is completely voluntary

Indexing for Family Search
Indexing for Family Search | Source

Genealogy Records at Family History Library

Because many of these records are indexed, it is easy to type in a name of an ancestor and find records you wouldn't have thought to look for. For example, I found birth certificates for stillborn children. I did not know these children existed, but this was likely a significant event in these parents' lives, and the record included the mother's maiden name.

The records are indexed by two different volunteers to ensure accuracy. Then an arbitrator (an experienced volunteer) will resolve any differences. That's three volunteers that are needed for each record.

Family History Library Resources on Amazon

Family Search Indexing

Volunteering to index some of these genealogy records gives you a chance to see these records early and lets you really get to know the records. It also lets you see how indexing works, which may give you some ideas about how to search for your ancestors.

Volunteering to index genealogical records also gives to the genealogy community. If a lot of people volunteer, the records will be available to the public faster, and with the indexing, it is much easier to find your ancestor. If more of us volunteer to index the 1940 U.S. census which was recently released in April, 2012, all of us will be able to find all of our family members much faster.

You can index the records at a Family History library, but you can also index them at home. To do so, simply go to the FamilySearch Indexing and sign up. The same user name works for searching for records, as it does for indexing. You can even do some practice indexing to see if this is for you. You will download some files which include the index viewer. Then start indexing. There is lots of help on the site that give you general information about indexing, and the specific project also has help for each field.

What I like about Family Search Indexing is that the job is broken up into small manageable pieces. Each batch only takes me a small amount of time, about twenty to thirty minutes. I can start and stop at my leisure. I can index for a few minutes while I am waiting for someone, or I can index all day if I choose.

I can also choose what type of project I want to work on. I can choose to work on records in my area, or the area of my ancestors. I can choose military records, Freedman's Bureau records, or census records. There are projects from all over the world from which to choose.

After you have experience, you may be asked to volunteer as an arbitrator. Then you can choose to work as an indexer or an arbitrator, depending on your mood that day.

Volunteering to Index FamilySearch Records

When I think about all the people who have indexed records, and how much those indexes have helped me in my genealogy search, I feel like I want to give back and index some more records. Together, all of us can help the number of indexed records grow, making it easier and easier for all of us to find our ancestors and other family members.

Volunteering from home is a great way to give back to the community. I can avoid transportation time, and fit in a little bit of indexing into a small space in my schedule.

I think it is a great way to say thanks to the people who have indexed before me by joining them.

© 2011 Shasta Matova

Comments: "Genealogy Volunteer Opportunities"

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    • KDeus profile image

      Keely Deuschle 5 years ago from Florida

      It sure is! I've been indexing for a while, but not until just before the 1940 census did I start arbitrating. At times, I felt I was the only one indexing and arbitrating PA, but it was great seeing the states' percentage complete numbers go up little by little. I need to get back in them to more soon, now that I'll have a break from the studio for several weeks!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks KDeus, that's exactly why I do it - besides giving back to the community for all they have done for me, it also gets more records out there faster! Plus it is really enjoyable to see your numbers going up.

    • KDeus profile image

      Keely Deuschle 5 years ago from Florida

      Indexing and arbitrating for Family Search is a very rewarding way to give back to the genealogy community. My research has benefited greatly as a result from the efforts of others and choosing to index and subsequently arbitrating was just a small way to say thanks! Thanks for sharing your hub!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

      Thanks Stephanie! There are several companies that are indexing the census, which is great especially for the hard-to-read handwriting. Hopefully one of them manages to figure out what it says. I prefer volunteering for Familysearch, because they offer their records to the public for free.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 6 years ago from USA

      Volunteering to index information from the 1940 census seems like it would be a very rewarding project. I also saw a request for volunteers on the 1940 Census (.gov website), but I don't know if that's the same thing. Thanks for bringing this project to our attention. Great hub, voted up and useful!