Church News and Events

250 Youth Index Over 4,000 Names in One Hour

Contributed By By Blake Miyahara, Allison Spice, and Penelope Lake, Church News contributors

  • 16 July 2013

Leaders and youth learn more about indexing during the Santa Margarita California Stake youth conference May 3. In one hour they indexed more than 4,000 names.  Photo by Karen Lake.


Youth from the Santa Margarita California Stake spent part of their youth conference this summer doing family history and indexing work.

Peggy Johnson, senior director of FamilySearch, talked to the youth about the importance and urgency of indexing. Sister Johnson was a key player in creating the site ( to teach youth how to help index the 1940 census.

She taught the youth that indexing involves reading online scans of the census and typing those names into searchable fields.

“No special skills or fixed time commitments are required,” she said. “Volunteer when you can. Just register, sign in, and follow a simple process.”

Some 250 youth used 200 laptops in a meetinghouse cultural hall for the project. The youth seemed to enjoy figuring out the names with their friends.

“When I first heard about this, I thought it would be boring,” said 17-year-old Cody Beckett. “But it was actually really fun to learn about people that lived over 70 years ago. Sometimes it’s hard to read the writing, but it’s fun figuring out the names.”

For one hour during youth conference this summer, 250 youth from the Santa Margarita California Stake worked on 200 laptops to index 4,210 names. Photo by Ben Brewster.

Some youth had already done indexing before and were excited to help teach others. “This is my first time doing this,” said 16-year-old Alexi Lee, “but my friend Jessie is showing me how to do it.”

Tyler Whitaker helps Sarah Brokaw learn how to index. Photo by Ben Brewster.

Once the youth were comfortable with indexing, they seemed to enjoy the project even more. Kristi Zetner, 16, said, “It was a lot easier than I thought it would be.”

Jim Carter, first counselor in the Santa Margarita California Stake presidency, said, “I think it is truly amazing to watch our youth meet the challenge of Elder [David A.] Bednar and the brethren by putting technology to such an efficient and glorious use.”

A young man inputs names using the indexing software that is easily downloaded from Photo by Karen Lake.

In just one hour of indexing, the youth completed an impressive 4,210 names for the 1940 census project.

Left to right: Melanie Christensen helps Brandon Baker, Cody Beckett, Connor Lee, Michael Brown, Jake Goehring, Peter Hanson, and Joshua Smith. Photo by Karen Lake.

“The activity was such a success,” commented Cathy Sundberg, a ward Laurel adviser. “I want to go home and do more! I could really feel the spirit of those we were doing this for throughout the activity. I had no idea how easy and accessible this would be.”