Family History Moment: Each Is a “Real Person”

Contributed By Stephanie Goodson, Church News contributor

  • 19 May 2016

Trish Homer has indexed more than a million names despite suffering from muscular dystrophy. Learn why indexing is so important.                                                                Download video: small, medium


“I know that each person I am indexing is a real person, and a descendant is looking for him or her, hoping to find a connection.” —Trish Homer, volunteer indexer

Since the FamilySearch indexing program was introduced in 2006, Trish Homer has indexed more than a million names. She has spent the past 25 years in a wheelchair suffering from muscular dystrophy.

Sister Homer, a member of the Sunnyside Ward, Idaho Falls Idaho Stake, averages 400–500 names a day, totaling more than 100,000 names a year. At age 65, she has no intention of slowing down or stopping.

Muscular dystrophy is a disease characterized by progressive wasting of muscles. She was diagnosed in 1986 and had to change from a manual wheelchair to an electric wheelchair four years later.

“I know that each person I am indexing is a real person, and a descendant is looking for him or her, hoping to find a connection. I am sure the spirits of ancestors are around when I am working,” she commented.

She begins each day by reading Doctrine and Covenants 128:15 to inspire her in indexing and her arbitration work. Arbitration work involves comparing the work of two indexers and resolving the differences. “Arbitration can involve many hours of work,” she said.

“My favorite source for indexing is obituaries, but I recently found 400 entries from a family newspaper from the United Kingdom.” Sister Homer prefers working on English records but has learned some Italian vocabulary.

Her ward Relief Society recently honored the family research worker with a “Thanks a Million” party. She has become known on Facebook following her million-names accomplishment. “I hope I am inspiring others to search for their ancestors. I don’t spend my time on Facebook. I don’t even know how to use it,” she observed.

As a member of the Idaho Falls South Stake FamilySearch Committee, Sister Homer is anxious to share and to teach others by working with them one-on-one in her home. “It usually takes several visits to learn indexing,” she observed. The indexer noted that less than three percent of Church members are involved in working on their family tree.

In the past three years she has turned her attention to the family tree work also in order to prepare names for temple work. Sister Homer has been focusing on ancestors from America during the period of 1800 to 1906. Her heritage is from Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Her sister and parents inspired her interest in family history work. She began extraction work with her parents in 1990. Her mother, Louise Clement from St. George, Utah, continues her work in indexing.

Sister Homer regularly attended two endowment sessions and a sealing session weekly in the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple before it was closed for renovation in March 2015. She also played the organ for an hour each week.

—Stephanie Goodson, Idaho Falls Idaho Stake