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Success, and then some

It was, by the numbers, a great success.

The 2016 Worldwide Indexing Event was hoping to round up 72,000 people willing to spend roughly an hour each to help index some of genealogy’s most valuable historical records over the 72-hour period, from Friday July 15th through yesterday, July 17th.

IndexingBy the final hour of the event last night, the number of active indexers went over the goal by almost 40%: more than 100,000 people had actually gone ahead and actually indexed sets of records.

So… what’s this all about, why is it important and — most of all — what can we do about it now that the event itself is over?

Here’s the deal:

There are lots and lots of records that have been digitized at the free research website These include vast numbers of the kinds of records that are absolutely priceless for genealogists.

Think, for example, of all the wills and inventories that get filed in probate cases. Think of marriage and birth and death registers. Think of tax lists. Think of court records. (Not that The Legal Genealogist has any affinity for court records of course…)

The problem is that only records that are indexed — where the names of the people mentioned in them are recorded and searchable — are easy to access. If we don’t know where our John Jingleheimer was living in a particular time period, or we don’t know when or where John died, it’s so much easier to track the information down when we can search by name, and particularly when we can search across geographical areas. And when records aren’t indexed, that kind of searching isn’t possible.

Now we’d all agree that all records should be indexed… but who’s going to do it? The simple fact is that records are digitized much faster than they can be indexed. If we want even the most significant records indexed, the manpower is going to have to come from us: we’re all going to have to pitch in.

But, you say, the event is over!

Not really. Oh, that special event has ended, sure. But indexing itself is never over. We can all pitch in, any time.

And when I say any time, I mean any time. At 3 a.m., at home, in our bunny slippers? You bet! It’s something any of us can do.

There’s plenty of information available at the Indexing page at FamilySearch. There’s a Test Drive area (a guided interactive tour where you can try your hand). A Get Started area (where you learn the basics). A Get Help area with all the info you need.

And there are the projects themselves.

There’s so much that needs to be indexed that there’s sure to be a project that’s right in your genealogical backyard: maybe even a record critically important to your own research. Church books from Baden, Germany? Check. County marriage registers from Ontario, Canada? Check. The 1865 New York State Census? Check. Alabama marriage records? Check.

This is one thing we can all do, to help ourselves, and to help our whole community.

And we don’t need a special event, either.

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