Getting into Indexing

By Brittany Beattie

Church Magazines

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Think you’re too young for family history? A few minutes a day can uncover names of many people waiting to receive temple ordinances.

You may have heard people use the word indexing in connection with family history and wondered what it was. FamilySearch indexing lets you type names from old records into a database that people worldwide can use to find their ancestors. The names you index generally won’t come from your own family line but from scanned documents that include census records, birth certificates, marriage certificates, military registrations, and more.

Indexing lets everyone help one another with family history. Today, you may enter in the name of an ancestor of someone living in Australia, and tomorrow a person living in England may type in the name of an ancestor you and your family are looking for. As we work together to enter these names into the FamilySearch database, we’ll each have a greater chance of finding information about our own ancestors and be able to help take family names to the temple.

So, why should you participate in indexing? Here are eight great reasons!

  1. Because these aren’t just names; they’re people.

    Look at the census record at right, which is an example of a record that would show up in the FamilySearch indexing software. It’s easy to think of the document as just a long list of names of people who lived in the 1940s. But that list is not just a collection of names—those names represent individual sons and daughters of God. They are His children, and He wants them to enjoy the same temple blessings that you can. Each time you type a name into the FamilySearch indexing application, you’re helping bring one person closer to his or her temple covenants.

  2. Because it feels great.

    Typing names into a database may not sound very exciting. But this isn’t your typical data entry—this work is filled with the Spirit of Elijah. The Lord promised that Elijah would return and turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers (see Malachi 4:5–6). As you do this work, you’ll be able to feel the Spirit of Elijah (which is the Holy Ghost). It will bring greater peace, joy, and purpose into your life because it’s a work with eternal importance.

  3. Because you’re a perfect fit.

    FamilySearch indexing is based around the computer. Can you think of anyone who is skilled at using the computer, is already online frequently, types quickly, and knows the way around today’s technologies? It sounds like you (and your friends) have just what it takes for indexing. And you don’t even need to be a member of the Church to index.

  4. Because it fits your schedule.

    You may wonder how you can fit indexing into your life, but it’s easy. Since you don’t have to complete an entire project in one sitting, you could work on it just five minutes at a time, perhaps while you’re waiting for dinner or before you log on to a social networking site. Five extra minutes browsing the web may not make a big difference in your day, but five minutes spent indexing can bring the Spirit into your life and bless the lives of others for eternity.

  5. Because it’s not just for older generations.

    Do you think that family history work is only for your grandparents and that you’ll be better suited for this work when you’re older? Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in speaking to youth, has said, “The time is now” (“The Time Is Now,” lds.org/fhy). Young men and young women all around the world have found that indexing is a great project for youth. In fact, you may find that it’s a perfect service experience for your priesthood quorum or Young Women class or even for Personal Progress or Duty to God experiences.

  6. Because technologies have been invented for this work

    Have you ever thought about how this generation constantly receives new technologies when people in the past lived for centuries without our modern means of communication? Well, it’s no coincidence. Multiple prophets and apostles have testified that today’s technologies have been invented to help God’s work move forward (for example, see lds.org/go/52K). And FamilySearch indexing is one of those ways. Heavenly Father has given us technologies to help bring His children sacred covenants—and He has given you a special responsibility to help that happen as you prepare names for temple work!

  7. Because it protects you from the influence of Satan.

    Today’s world is filled with temptation, so we need to fortify ourselves to stand strong. Elder Bednar has testified that family history work is one way to bring that strength and to protect us from the world. He said, “The Spirit of Elijah is the Holy Ghost. The Spirit of Elijah will influence anyone who is involved in this work. That, for a young person in the wickedness of the world in which we live today, is one of the greatest safeguards against the temptations of the adversary. The Spirit of Elijah will not only bless you, it will protect you” (“The Time Is Now,” lds.org/fhy).

  8. Because prophets have invited you to do so.

    Many prophets have talked about doing this work. In the October 2011 general conference, Elder Bednar extended a specific invitation to youth to participate (see the quote at right). Have you acted on his invitation and experienced the blessings he promised? If not, today is a great day to start!

Photo illustration by Robert Casey; census record: sample—not actual record

Census record: sample—not actual record; photo illustration by Robert Casey; photographs by iStock, © Winterling, and © Getty Images