Sunday, February 19, 2012

New Project

I love having projects to work on to keep me occupied and one thing I've recently started doing is indexing. Genealogy and family history work is something that's very important in my church, so I thought this would be a way that I could volunteer my time to do something that benefits others.

Here's how it works: I started by downloading the Family Search Indexing program on my computer via the internet, and that program lets me download a batch (a group) of documents, like death certificates, tax records, military registration cards, land reports, parish registers, marriage records, etc. The original document is shown at the top of my computer screen, and at the bottom of my screen there's a template where I enter in the information from the document.

This creates an index (like you would find in the back of a reference book) so that people all over the world who are doing genealogical work can find their ancestors more easily. The index I'm helping to create enables those searching for their ancestors to research on their home computers instead of scrolling through hundreds of documents on microfilm (which is very time consuming). It just allows for easier/faster searching.

All of this sounds pretty boring, right? Well, call me crazy, but I really enjoy it. First of all, it's kind of like detective work. Depending on how old the documents are, some of them are hand written and others have been typed on a typewriter. As you can imagine, some of the handwriting is written like chicken scratch which makes it really difficult to decipher. When I'm trying to interpret what's written in a handwriting that's particularly sloppy, sometimes I stare at the words trying to compare how the letters in different words are formed. Something I've recognized doing this is that penmanship has sure changed/evolved in the past 50 years. Some letters are just written differently nowadays than they were in the early – mid part of the 20th century. The more indexing I've done, the better I've gotten at analyzing  handwriting (especially the stuff that's written like chicken scratch). There have been times where I've been absolutely stumped, and then all of a sudden the correct name finally dawns on me. It's a great feeling and I know the Lord is inspiring me and helping me figure it out.

My mom is also indexing on her computer, so when I have a particularly challenging name that I'm trying to make out, sometimes consult her and she helps me figure things out.

The part I find the most rewarding is that I'm doing something that's helpful/beneficial to others. There are so many things that I would like to be able to do for others, but I'm just not physically able to since I'm paralyzed. So often I feel like a burden since I just take, take, take from others since people are having to serve/assist me all day long with almost everything I do, but indexing is something I can do independently on my voice-activated laptop.

In order to for you to better understand this indexing thing, I took a picture of a few of the documents I worked on this evening so that I could post them on my blog.


Annette said...

I'm liking the Indexing more and more, too. Another activity we can do when I visit.

Cindy said...

Thank you so much for indexing. I love to index too! When I index and look at the names I wonder a few things. Who are these people? What was their life like? Who is going to be thrilled to find this name in a database? Then I wonder who is out there indexing a name that I will be thrilled to find. Maybe it will be you, Heather!! It is wonderful to be involved in such a great work.

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