Monday, March 12, 2012

Giving Back - Indexing

Dear Uncle,

My apologies for being away for so long.  Life got in the way.  In the midst of it all I did find time to sign up for indexing.  The 1940 census is about to be released and I can say that if it were not for all of the folks who had previously done indexing then I would not have found all of the members on the family tree that we currently have.

It is my time to give back.  It was really very easy to sign up.  The instructions are very simple and while I and millions of others wait for the 1940 census to drop I signed up to do some indexing that needed to be done. I thought it would give me good practice.

I signed up at Family Search.org. They sent me a batch of my choosing, something that I felt I could handle.  Each batch consisted of 20 records. I had death records for the state of Texas 1904, 1909 for a couple of different counties.  For the most part I did pretty well. There were a couple of records that I could not decipher and I would challenge anyone to decipher them - doctors handwriting...need I say more?

I can say that all my years researching family history served me well.  Names and places were relatively easy to figure out.  And there were helpful things to be able to read the documents more easily.  If I had a better knowledge of the areas I'd have sped right through them. At the most each batch took about an hour.  It might seem like a long time but you can do a few records here and there when you have  time. 

I have a greater appreciation of the folks who have done all this work before. And I feel pretty good about being able to give back.  I haven't done a huge amount, only about a hundred records, but now someone looking for a relative who died in Brazos or Bexar counties in 1904 or 1909 might actually be able to find them and that makes me feel good.

Indexing has also had it's emotional moments.  Records of folks who died without a hint of where they came from- the dreaded "UNKNOWN".  Or the records of Black americans born before the Emancipation. Date of Birth : Unknown, Fathers Name: Unknown, Mothers Name: Unknown, Place of Birth : Unknown.  Granted there were folks of all races that had entrys like that but for the most part there was something that was known.

I guess it hit me that without the records, without the information filled in, the trail to family stops.  Yes, I've been there but there was a way around it somehow and eventually I found a clue here and there.  And yes, the Irish side is a bucket full of aggravation but once I get a few more clues I can "jump the pond" .  How do you "jump" to anywhere when the record is "Mary" no last name, no mother, no father. The next record is "Jimmy"  and he died 2 miles west of a farm. No date of birth, no last name.

Uncle, I am so very fortunate to have found the information that I have.  Fortunate that folks had the foresight to realize that these records attach to real people, someones kin and that perhaps that kin might come looking for them someday. And no matter what genealogy group or association or church or whatever began to make these records available it is a blessing.

So now, when I type in a name of one of our ancestors and I come up with a new record I will bless the indexer for taking the time to enter the information so that I can find my kin.

Until the next,

Your devoted Niece