Monday, May 20, 2013

Bridging the Chasm in Genealogy through Indexing


In a recent blog post, The Ancestry Insider pointed out that in genealogy, there is a chasm. He said,
On one side of the chasm are the ancestors and relatives we know personally. We know them as people. We grew up with them or with our parents talking about them. On the other side are ancestors and relatives that we know only through records.
He goes on to explain that on the "easy" side of the chasm we use modern records with abundant details and that on the other side, the records are "incomplete, spotty, illegible, unindexed, hard-to-locate, or offline."

Since reading that post, I have been thinking about this issue extensively. I have had several discussion, some at length about different aspects of the problem and come to some conclusions. One of the recurring suggested solutions to the problem is involving those approaching the chasm or even those who potentially may come to the chasm, in the FamilySearch Indexing program. By participating in the Indexing Program, people who have limited experience with difficult records, learn valuable tools that assist them in moving from the "easy" records to those that are more difficult.

The FamilySearch Indexing program currently has over 156,000 volunteers. By participating in the Indexing Program, the volunteers become acquainted with a variety of records and learn the connection between searching records and finding the names of ancestors. This link is the key to bridging the chasm. It would be very interesting to know how many of the people who do Indexing go on to doing research in their own families. I would guess that given the opportunity and incentive, they would be the prime candidates for moving in that direction.

I have had several conversations about involving the youth in the Indexing program. Where that program is operating among the youth, the transition to doing genealogical research is facilitated. The burden for initiating such a program lies with the youth's parents and leaders. Where there is little interest among the parents and leaders, there is no youth activity. If you want to bridge the chasm, get the youth involved in Indexing. In my own area, my LDS Stake, the main obstacle to implementing an active Indexing program among the youth is not the youth, it is the leaders.

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