The other day as I was perusing deed indexes for some family names, I began to think about all the hours that had been spent indexing those deeds. I thought about the tedious work someone had done going through those deeds page by page trying to carefully note the names of the parties involved along with the dates, volumes, and page numbers. Their days and days of work saved me tons of time as I could easily glide through the lists of grantors and grantees looking for just the right names. I was so grateful I didn’t have to go through each volume page by page especially because the county I was researching in was a large one and has volumes and volumes of just deed indexes.
Many records were indexed during the era of the Works Progress Administration . The government used these programs to supply jobs during a time of rampant unemployment. The dual purpose of this program served both short and long-term -term needs. In the short-term people were able to earn an income and feed their families. Over the long-term, generations have benefited from the use of these indexes in the search for their ancestors.
Today many of us have the opportunity to help index records. The biggest indexing program by far is sponsored by the FamilySearch. Thousands of people from around the world participate by indexing records which are then made available for free access to all through the FamilySearch . These records can be accessed either through Record Search Pilot or the FamilySearch beta site. Ancestry.com also has an indexing project: the Ancestry World Archives Project which invites volunteers to index records that will be made available for free to the public at Ancestry.com .
I am sure there are also some other great indexing projects out there. If you know of any, help us spread the word. When we all work together indexing records, everyone benefits both now and for generations to come.