FamilySearch Indexing Project

It should come as no surprise that FamilySearch has a lot of records. The numbers are impressive: 2.4 million rolls of microfilm, 1 million microfiche records, together representing an estimated 3 Billion records (a death certificate is one example of a record).  And, of course, new records are being added all the time.

The effort to digitize these records began in 1973 and continues today. At the current pace, it is estimated that converting all of the images to a digital format will take  from 6 to 10 years.

FamilySearch also has an ongoing effort to transcribe all of the digital records. Transcription involves having someone type all of the information on an image. They have developed an impressive set of software tools that enable anybody located anywhere in the world to participate in the transcription process. Volunteers download software onto their personal computers and then download a batch of document.

It should take less than an hour for you to type in the information from the images contained in a batch into a custom form that includes help screens to  provide guidance.  The software is designed so that you can stop and resume as many times as you need to without losing any of your work. They allow you to take up to a week to complete a batch before they re-assign it to somebody else.

Every document is transcribed by two different people and the results are compared. Any differences are resolved by a third person to insure accuracy.

It seems that the transcription effort is moving quickly: about 200 million records will be transcribed this year alone. However, at this pace it will still take another 300 years to complete this transcription.

As exciting as this is, I couldn’t help myself from wondering ‘what’s in this for organizations like the DGS?’.   Does it make sense for an organization like ours to stop emphasizing projects like our cemetery transcriptions to shift focus to the FamilySearch transcription project? Given their resources and dedication to preservation and public access to the transcribed records does it make sense not to?

To learn more about the FamilySearch indexing project see

Tony Hanson

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3 Responses to FamilySearch Indexing Project

  1. Barbara Ware says:

    Is the Family Search Indexing project limited to Intel-based Macs?

  2. Carolyn Davis says:

    The FamilySearch Indexing Project is indeed an exciting one. I tried to volunteer a year or two ago, but found out that I could not participate because I have a Mac computer and their software worked only on Windows OS. Perhaps their technology has changed since then. I will check into it and let you know.

    • Carolyn Davis says:

      Good News! We Mac addicts can now participate in the FamilySearch Indexing Project. I wrote in an earlier comment that the applet needed in order to work with the records was only available for Windows OS, but I registered for the Project this week-end without any problems. I am looking forward to paying back FamilySearch, if only in this small way, for what they do for genealogists.

      By the way, has a similar indexing project titled World Archives Project, but you do need Windows OS to get involved. According to their info, active contributors will receive free access to original images in the project’s databases and those who already subscribe to will be eligible for a discount on renewal.

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