Monday, 3 February 2014

Paying It Forward: easier to do now than ever before

The genealogy community is a worldwide one as very much evidenced by this blogging collaboration.

When I started researching in 1986, there was still the sense of community even though in those days we communicated by mail, writing the letter, posting it and then waiting and waiting, checking the letter-box each day, waiting some more then an envelope arrives with English stamps. Your heart started racing and you frequently opened the letter at the mailbox (well, I did)  and checked the contents and then disappeared inside and checked your files and maybe dinner was cooked that night (yes, I am a single person) or maybe not.

I did some indexing for a couple of Family History Societies which took some time with turnaround of the mails. I also did indexing for my local societies.

Over the years I have given many thanks for everybody that has done indexing and made access to resources easier.

The implementation of the international computer network initially with bulletin boards where  we shared text files of indexes we had done then the Internet as we know it today has made international collaborative indexing projects very possible.

Some of these are done with images being sent by email or people transcribing documents such as the Will Transcription project being done by the Oxfordshire Family History Society where they have put online transcribed wills  searchable by name and place.

Others are done online such as the Queensland State Library: PitchIn project which is digitising and tagging historical Queensland documents.There are other opportunities like this where you could help with West Australian transcription & indexing projects ::

Of course FamilySearch is the best known of the indexing projects where individuals or groups can go online and index documents. They are setting up a new indexing platform which will allow you to index using your iPad or Android tablets. The below graphic was taken from the FamilySearch site today showing what can be done by many volunteers around the world. With 203 current open projects there is sure to be something which you would find interesting.

The statistics are amazing and shows the true power of people when they work together! It doesn't matter if how many or how few one person is able to do, it all counts to make fantastic resources available to all. 

What is even more fantastic now is the range of documents that are being transcribed and indexed, many of which are of specialist interest rather than some of the mega-use documents digitised and indexed by the pay sites.  Many smaller libraries are able to use online programs and have volunteers around the world transcribe wonderful resources.

Do you know of specialist projects being done online that are looking for volunteers who can work at home?

It would be lovely if there was a central place that listed online volunteer opportunities so the smaller societies/libraries and archives could get help in these times of cutbacks.


  1. It's great that so much indexing can now be done at home. I intend to try GenScriber for some of my own indexing projects.

  2. I've done indexing at Family Search and also did some transcribing of South Carolina probate records - indexing the names of the slaves mentioned so that African Americans can search for ancestors. I wish there was such a project for Alabama, Lowndes County probate records.

  3. How spooky is that, I was only thing the other day that Paying it Forward would be a good topic to write on. Well done. I feel and hope that I can put a little more time into assisting with genealogy projects this year. I do try to spend some time correcting transcriptions in Trove, however this is generally related to articles, notices connected with my family research.

    Thanks Judy for the tip on GenScriber, looks interesting.

  4. Indexing is an activity vital to our family history research, particularly where local records are involved. As a former librarian, I have had a lot pleasure from indexing. My biggest project has been to index 150 years of the annual publication of Hawick Archaeological Society (now much more concerned with local history than archaeology), and there was so much fascinating material in it that otherwise might not have been traced, without trawling through the contents list of each edition.

  5. I have done a little bit of indexing, but not as much as I would like to. Thanks for this post...I will Pay It Forward a little more.

  6. Sounds like you are a great member of the beautiful army of volunteers that bless our lived so much!


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