Six Steps to Hosting a Successful Indexing Event

Contributed By Rachel Sterzer, Church News staff writer

  • PROVO, UTAH

John Schiavo, left, watches as Michael Provard walks him through a computer program at the Conference on Family History at BYU in Provo, Friday, July 29, 2016.  Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Article Highlights

  • This years global indexing event exceeded its volunteer goal by 88,000.
  • There are resources and tips available to help you host your own indexing event.
  • Indexing helps fuel the find to connect others to their ancestors.

For the past several years, FamilySearch has hosted an annual indexing event, inviting volunteers from around the world to help make historical records available to those doing family history work.

This year’s event, held July 15–17, included the goal to have at least 72,000 volunteers index as many records as possible in the 72-hour period. And the event was successful—more than 160,000 people from across the globe participated in indexing some 10 million records.

As the digital marketing manager at FamilySearch, Courtney Connolly oversees these worldwide indexing events, and during a session at the Conference on Family History and Genealogy at BYU on July 29, she offered guidelines, tips, and strategies for individuals, families, ward organizations, and others interested in hosting a similar event.

Before outlining her tips, Sister Connolly discussed some important ways to prepare for the event, including “spreading the word.”

She suggested letting people know the date of the activity two to three months in advance so they can block out the time on their calendars. Then a couple of weeks before the event, organizers can increase messaging to get people excited for the activity. Some ways to do this could include posting on a ward or group Facebook page, sending out emails, posting on the ward bulletin, or printing flyers.

To help individuals, families, or groups hosting an event, FamilySearch has created an online Indexing Event Kit that includes customizable posters, flyers, messages, images, and other resources. They can be accessed at www.lds.org/indexingeventkit.

Once organizers have advertised the event, they can then focus on sharing the vision. “Help them understand the blessings they can receive,” she said. Sister Connolly also suggested making sure attendees are registered and have access to a computer beforehand.

Six tips for a successful indexing event

Sister Connolly then shared six essential tips for hosting a successful indexing event:

  1. Seek priesthood support. Indexing events are more successful when they have the support of priesthood leaders.
  2. Have a challenging but attainable goal. Individuals can set challenging but attainable goals to stretch, inspire, and motivate themselves.
  3. Set time. Volunteers are more likely to participate if the indexing event has a distinct beginning and end.
  4. Focus on participation first and productivity second.
  5. Celebrate. Maintain enthusiasm by acknowledging and celebrating accomplishments.
  6. Follow up the event with a temple challenge. Place equal emphasis on indexing and submitting names to the temple.

In addition to offering some best common practices, Sister Connolly shared a few of the blessings associated with participating in indexing or why individuals and groups should be interested in holding such an event.

Sister Connolly said she will never forget the moment she discovered the obituary, ship record, and ship notes referencing her ancestor Isabella Clayton. Isabella joined the Church at age 25 in Liverpool, England. She saved her pennies for 20 years to afford passage across the Atlantic Ocean in order to join the Saints in Utah.

“I was so touched to find that story about her. Whenever I struggle with patience myself, I think about her and her example,” Sister Connolly said.

Richard Harden photographs slides at the Conference on Family History at BYU in Provo, Friday, July 29, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Sister Connolly’s “family discovery” was made possible, she said, because someone took the time to index those records.

Archived records around the world preserve important events, such as where ancestors were born, when they were married, when they died, and so on. Volunteers capture digital images of these records and send them to FamilySearch. Indexers then open the FamilySearch indexing program wherever they have access to the internet and transcribe—or index—what they see. The records are then searchable so that individuals can have family discovery moments, such as Sister Connolly with her ancestor Isabella Clayton.

A common catchphrase used at FamilySearch is “fuel the find.”

“Index records are the fuel that helps give FamilySearch.org the power to connect people to their ancestors—to connect you to your ancestors,” Sister Connolly explained. “Every name that you index is another drop of precious fuel to help someone find and connect with their family.”

Besides helping to “fuel the find,” indexing also brings many other blessings, Sister Connolly continued, and shared the experience of some Latter-day Saint youth in Honduras who have participated in many indexing activities. Among other blessings, the Honduran youth and leaders noticed greater spiritual maturity, more unity and camaraderie among the group, and an increased focus on the temple.

Sister Connolly quoted Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who made the following promise to those who participate in family history work: “Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives” (“The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn,” October 2011 general conference).

“This promise is available not only to the Saints in Honduras but to all of us,” Sister Connolly said.

Ray Banks, left, and his wife, Patricia, talk with Douglas Kennard at the Conference on Family History at BYU in Provo, Friday, July 29, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Sunny Morton gives a presentation at the Conference on Family History at BYU in Provo, Friday, July 29, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

RootsMagic buttons are seen at the Conference on Family History at BYU in Provo, Friday, July 29, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

June Standley, right, talks with her daughter, Megan, at the Conference on Family History at BYU in Provo, Friday, July 29, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News

Kay Lynn Black, left, talks with JoDee Johnson at the Conference on Family History at BYU in Provo, Friday, July 29, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Mindy Jacox, with the Nauvoo Community Project, gives a presentation on finding Nauvoo ancestors at the Conference on Family History at BYU in Provo, Friday, July 29, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Daina Hunt, right, listens to a presentation at the Conference on Family History at BYU in Provo, Friday, July 29, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Julia Briggs takes notes at the Conference on Family History at BYU in Provo, Friday, July 29, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Della Steineckert talks with Jill Crandell at the Conference on Family History at BYU in Provo, Friday, July 29, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Donna VanDyke, left, looks on as Christine Fazulyanov, from Family Chartmasters, shows her samples of family charts at the Conference on Family History at BYU in Provo, Friday, July 29, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Allen Peterson, left, takes notes as Teri Tyler with RootsMagic, gives him program tips at the Conference on Family History at BYU in Provo, Friday, July 29, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Ann Kinkade, left, spins a wheel at the BYU Family History Library booth to win a prize at the Conference on Family History at BYU in Provo, Friday, July 29, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Gentry McClain, left, and Christina Crandall play a genealogy game at the Conference on Family History at BYU in Provo, Friday, July 29, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Michael Hansen with FamilySearch scans a book at the Conference on Family History at BYU in Provo, Friday, July 29, 2016. Book scanning was offered to attendees. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.