Lesson 6

Workshop 6 - Indexing
  • What is FamilySearch indexing?

    • Indexing is when someone types the information from images of historical documents so that the information can be published and made searchable online.

    • Indexing helps the genealogical community. It is not specific to your family, but helps make different records from different places and times available online.

  • Why do we do indexing?

    • Indexing makes it easier for people to do their family history work online. It is much easier to search an online database using search terms rather than clicking through unsearchable images, using microfilm or fiche, or visiting a library or courthouse.

    • When we index we give back to the genealogical community, and help open the doors to success for others’ research.

  • What FamilySearch indexing is not.

    • This is not your ancestors, and you will most likely never see one of your ancestors in these documents.

    • This is not the extraction process. That means that none of the names you index will be sent to the temple. The names you index will allow people on FamilySearch to do things such as find records or attach Record Hints to their ancestors.

    • FamilySearch indexing is not a perfect system, just like the people who volunteer their time to help with it. People have made mistakes. People do make mistakes. People will make mistakes. You will make mistakes. It is okay. However, this does not mean that you don’t have to be a responsible indexer. Use the helps provided, use Google/internet as a resource, get second opinions, etc. Always do your best, but also remember that you are not the only one looking at that particular record. FamilySearch indexing has a peer review system in place to make sure what goes on FamilySearch is the best it can be.


Indexing used to be via software that you downloaded from FamilySearch. You would do the work in the software which was connected to your FamilySearch account, which would then be uploaded and published online. In May 2017 they moved all indexing online and the software is no longer available for download. However, the software is still being used by some, and so some of the information (like help articles) on the website is for the older system.


The Indexing Tabs

  1. Overview

    1. Find a project - What is a project?

      1. Terms from largest to smallest

        1. Project: A project is a collection of historical records from the same place and time grouped together for indexing.

        2. Batch: A batch contains one or more images of historical documents that can be indexed in 20 to 30 minutes.

        3. Record: A record includes all information on a historical document about an event or individual.

    2. Guided tour

      1. The guided tour is an excellent resource for new web indexers to be able to learn how to navigate web indexing.

      2. The guided tour will walk you through a mock indexing batch so you can get a feel for the program with step by step instructions.

      3. Make sure to read the project instructions, as well as the step by step instructions that pop up, carefully, as this will aid you in indexing future batches.

      4. The guided tour can be completed as many times as needed.

    3. Get help

      1. If you have any questions or need to review, click on the Get Help link. Here you can learn how to start indexing, basic guidelines, language and handwriting helps, FAQs and much more. Here your questions will be answered for how to index even when it gets challenging.  

    4. Statistics

      1. You can see how many records have been indexed (approximately 1.3 billion so far)

      2. There are approximately 12 billion names on the records owned by the Family History Library and FamilySearch. We have a long way to go.

  2. Help Resources

    1. These resources are specifically to help you whatever your role might be with indexing. The most important one for most people is “Help for Indexers,” though there is excellent help here if you have a need or a calling beyond just indexing.

      1. Help for indexers

        1. There are lots of good articles, helpful hints, and tools to make you a better indexer.

          1. Look at “Basic Indexing Guidelines” and “Language and Handwriting Helps”

      2. Help for arbitrators

        1. Arbitrators are no longer in use in the new online web indexing (though they are still used in the software for the moment). There is a new process known as peer review. You still must specially qualify to be a peer reviewer, but the process of peer reviewing is different than arbitration.

        2. Help for stake indexing directors

          1. This is a place where stake indexing directors can come and see how to best fulfill their callings in their specific stakes.

      3. Help for group administrators

        1. Anyone can start a group. Are you interested in starting one? Then this is a great place to come to find out how to do so and other helpful tips and tricks.

  3. Find A Project

    1. How to choose a project.

      1. Remember that a project is a collection of historical records from the same place and time grouped together for indexing. A good indexing tip is to pick a project, and if it is a good difficulty level for you, index several batches from the same project. As you gain experience and familiarity with one project, you obtain skills and knowledge that can help you when you move on to a different project.

    2. By country

      1. You can find a project based on the country it comes from.

    3. By project

      1. By name - if you know the name of a specific record collection you would like to do, you can search for it (for example, WW2 Draft cards).

      2. By language - indexing needs to be done in various languages. If you have language skills from a mission, or can read or write another language for whatever reason, this is something you should look into. Indexing in another language is difficult, but as more records from more countries come online, more people can do more work. Please try to index in another language if you have the skill, and use the helps that the FamilySearch wiki, and the indexing handwriting helps offer.

  4. Web Indexing

    1. Find and manage batches

    2. Messages - Updates and news from and about web indexing. This is where they will let you know that you can peer review, for example.

    3. Progress

      1. Set goals

        1. To set a goal, select “month,” “quarter”, or “year” from the drop down menu.

        2. Then click on the number next to “target” to the right, and type in your goal.

      2. View progress, current and past, indexing and review.

      3. Groups

        1. Stake and Ward

          1. you are automatically added to your ward and stake. You can see who is indexing and how much has been indexed.

        2. Create your own

          1. You can add your own groups. We have a lab group, you can do your FHE group, you could make one for your family, etc.

  5. INDEX

Once you are inside the program there are two steps. You can know which step you are on by looking in the top left hand corner.

  1. Step 1 - Images

    1. Should this be indexed? This is to decide whether or not the image matches the criteria of the batch, and if it is readable.

      1. Read the project instructions to find out if the image qualifies

      2. Select the correct response

      3. Do so for all images in the batch

      4. Click on the step field and change to step two to be able start inputting information, beginning with image 1.

  2. Step 2 - Entries

This is where you input the information from the image. There are specific fields for each type of information that the batch requires. To best understand exactly how and what you are supposed to input, read both the “project instructions” and use the “field help.”

  1. Project Instructions

    1. The project instructions are where you will find answers to most of your questions. The instructions generally include examples of the types of images to be indexed, how to deal with abbreviations or missing information, and other helpful hints.

  2. Field Help

    1. The field help is the little purple question mark on the side of each box. It is only visible when the box is selected. Sometimes the project instructions are not specific about a particular piece of information, and that information is frequently found in the field help.

  3. Tools to assist you

    1. There are a variety of tools to help you when indexing records. These can be found along the bar, and in the top left hand corner.

      1. Batch:

        1. This is where to get information about the batch you are working on, or to return a batch (give it back to the system for someone else to work on) or submit the batch (turn it in when you have put in all of the required information).

      2. Data Entry:

        1. Data Entry allows you to:

          1. Change the layout of the entry fields

          2. Look up information, which means to put in the known letters from a word and see what possible matches the system can find for you.

          3. Add an international character

          4. Add or take away a highlighted ruler to help you keep track of where you are at

          5. Pull up reference images for the project in a side by side comparison

      3. Help

        1. This will allow you to reopen the project instructions, see basic indexing guidelines, see keyboard shortcuts, help resources, share a batch with someone else, view batches people have shared with you, and labs.

          1. “Sharing a batch” means allowing someone else to look at it digitally. It creates a code for you that you can send to a friend to look at for you. They cannot index for you, only view it. You are also able to receive a batch.

          2. Lab allows you to activate new indexing features.

  4. Entering the Data

    1. Fill in the required data for each field. If you have questions, refer to the field help. Occasionally the document will not contain the information that goes in the text field. When this happens just mark the field “blank” by using Ctrl + B.

  5. Creating a second entry.

    1. There is frequently information on more than one person in a single document or on a single image. This makes it necessary to create a second entry, or record. At the bottom of the data entry fields there is an option to “create a new entry” which will allow you to index the additional information. Make sure to refer to the project instructions to help you know when to create additional entries.

  6. Submitting the batch.

    1. Once you have finished indexing everything on the document(s), you are ready to submit the batch.  You can do that either by clicking on “batch” and submitting from there, or by selecting submit batch at the bottom of the text entry fields.

    2. Quality check. When you attempt to submit a batch, it runs a quality check. This will let you know if you left any fields blank. Once that has been corrected and the quality checker has found no problems the batch will be successfully submitted.