Follow Friday – FamilySearch Indexing “5 Million Record” Day

I received an e-mail from entitled “Leave a Legacy: July 2nd Could Be the Day“:

Will July 2, 2012, Be Our First “5 Million Record” Day?

July 2, 2012, is going to be an amazing day! We can feel it! It could be the first day that we achieve “5 Million Name” fame. That’s right. July 2nd might be the day that we index and arbitrate 5 million names (or records) in just 24 hours! No other name transcription project that we know of has ever come close.

Together, we’ve achieved unbelievable success in the past three months. Our highest day for indexing & arbitrating combined—for the last three months and in the history of indexing—was April 30th. On that day, we reached 4.9 million records submitted. Amazing! We nearly made 5 million with just our everyday effort!

To make sure we reach the goal of 5 million records, we’ll need help from every indexer and arbitrator out there. Everyone will need to submit an extra batch or two (or more!) during the day. Remember, though, that our “day” starts at 00:00 Universal Coordinated Time (UTC/GMT), which means 6pm MDT (Utah time), on Sunday, July 1st. Check the Facebook event page for your local start time.

Now, don’t think that we’re focusing completely on quantity and forgetting about quality. Next week, to prepare, we’ll provide ways to improve the quality of your work and suggestions for how to get ready for the big day.

Spread the word! Tell your friends and family about the opportunity to be a part of this history-making event. We may not have another chance like this for years, so plan now to get involved. We need you and everyone else out there to reach this goal!

Look for more details next week. For now, let’s keep on indexing (and arbitrating)! ——————————————————————————-

I have done quite a bit of indexing of the 1940 Census, recently helping to complete Missouri and get it to the searchable stage.  I like indexing the census, for the most part.  Of course, it can be frustrating, with terrible handwriting, enumerators who refused to follow the rules and images that strain the eyes.

For the most part, though, it is an enjoyable way to spend some time.  Knowing how valuable it is to the genealogy community is a motivator.  Knowing that others in that community are also working hard to complete these states–all of them volunteers–is also a great motivator.

What I like the most about indexing the census is the ability to daydream about the people on the pages.  It is different from looking at the census for my own families, where I am looking for clues and trying to fit the information into a cohesive picture of their lives.

With the census for other people’s families, I’m free to wonder—and to speculate.  Finding someone whose residence in 1935 was in California, for instance, but now he is back in Missouri with his family.  What happened to him?  Is he happy to be home?  Is his family happy to have him back?

And what about the family where three sons are home, all divorced, one with children?  What were the last few years like for that family?

Then there are the names, I love the names.  My favorite so far were twins, Hazel and Basil.  My husband said that with Basil he never knew whether to pronounce the name with a long or short “a.”  Well, with twin sister Hazel, I guess everyone would always know it was a long “a”!

When indexing, I don’t take the time to look at the other columns that aren’t included in the assignment.  They would undoubtedly provide even more grounds for speculation.  Looking at the number of weeks worked in 1939 might provide some insight, especially into those moves, where someone was living somewhere else in 1935…or maybe not.  That is the fun when you just speculate and don’t have to support any conclusions.

Of course, that’s not the way we genealogists are wired.  We want to do the research, search for the clues, and the data, that will provide us with the whole story.  Or as close to it as we can get with an imperfect set of “facts.”

So, this bit of more concentrated time that I have spent with other people’s families in the 1940 census has been great for letting me think about what their lives might have been like.  But it has also been a great tool for getting me excited to go back to my own family and put their information in order and write up some of their real stories.

Familysearch has declared July 2 “5 Million Record Day.”  Their goal is to index and arbitrate 5 million names in 24 hours.  That means that everyone needs to put in a little extra time.  I’m going to be there, with the community of genealogists, contributing in an important way, pushing the 1940 census closer to completion.  And I’m going to be daydreaming about those other families.

Then I’ll be ready to come back and attack my family history.  I hope you’ll join in.


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