Monday, July 21, 2008

Adventures in FamilySearch Indexing - Week 52

It would seem like I have worked on FamilySearch Indexing for a year, by saying this is my 52nd week, but actually next week on August 1st will mark my one year anniversary. I am so excited about hitting that one year mark! Next week's articles on FamilySearch Indexing and my New FamilySearch Tree Sagas will trade time frames. I just have to index on my one year mark. I have this all planned out in my mind.

The last couple of weeks I have been commenting in my articles about the lack of English projects. Several readers commented to me about the lack of arbitrators on these projects.

I don't know if you see the notes from FamilySearch headquarters that are marked "Too all arbitrators", but I found out another reason why there may not have been English batches available for you a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, if there are too many batches waiting to be arbitrated, they won't allow any more to be indexed.

I haven't actually indexed a record since the last call for arbitration a couple of weeks ago and have been focused on just arbitrating - primarily the Washington Death Records. It's really thrown off my indexing / arbitration ratio. When I hit 50,000 records I was right at 25,000 / 25,000 (on purpose). Now, because I've spent so much time arbitrating, I'm at 26,000 / 35,000.
Here's the note from headquarters:

We still need your help! The number of batches being arbitrated is out of balance compared with the number of batches being indexed. Please spend as much time as possible doing arbitration, especially for the Washington State Deaths and Louisiana 1850-1954 Death Certificates projects.
If the gap between the number of batches indexed and the number of batches arbitrated grows too large, indexing batches will not be assigned (even though they are available) until the arbitration numbers come back into balance. If you notice that a project is on the Download From… list, but the system states that there are no batches available to index, please download and submit arbitration batches as soon as possible for the same project.
Arbitration is a vital step in ensuring a constant flow of data through the indexing pipeline. We sincerely appreciate your efforts.

Sue Ann
I appreciate the feedback and getting to know the rest of the story better about why sometimes my favorite projects are not available. I found it fascinating that others love to index the death certificates as much as I do.

This does make me have a question though, if they need help with arbitrating how does one go about becoming an arbitrator? I'm not necessarily sure I want to be one but I am curious.

I had a problem tonight when I went to start my FamilySearch Indexing program. It had an error and could not open the program. Some sort of JAVA error. I went to the and clicked on the indexing link. ( has a new design by the way.) I clicked on the button to start indexing, for those already registered. It downloaded the program again for me and I was all set to begin. I just love accessing everything from FamilySearch by just going to, major coolness!

There were no new messages from headquarters this week by the way. There were plenty of English projects for me, I counted 16. There was also 9 Spanish projects and one project each for Italian, German and French. That's a lot of projects.

After hearing about the arbitrating needs on the death certificates it makes me feel guilty to want to index them and cause more arbitrating issues. What is a person to do now that I have so many choices? Now it would be an easy answer for me if one of the other projects was for New York - but alas it is not being offered. It's been ages since I've been able to work on any New York projects. I just can't help by moan over that lack.

Now do I want to index the 1920, 1900, 1870 or 1850 census it has been ages since I've worked on a census. Maybe I am due for a change. What to do, what to do. I see one lone little 1850 U.S. Federal Census for the state of Missouri. I decided to take pity on it and work on a batch.

There was one big huge problem trying to set up the Missouri census the bottom highlight was off the page and I couldn't grab it to move it over. I guess I will try to use the ruler then. As I worked through the census I was amazed how quickly I could index one individual. There wasn't much information to gather per person. It was difficult reading the second page of the census but it was do-able.

The ruler method wasn't working that hot for me. I found that when I was done with the records I was short one individual. There should of been 84 in total and I had only 83. I had to go back and find the missing line. Add a line in the right place and then remove the left over line at the end. It worked but I just hate missing things to begin with.

I had my census done and decided that one batch was good for the night. I need to get to bed early tonight. I was so tired this morning when I got up that I almost would of called in sick. But, money is a great motivator and makes you keep ticking when there isn't much to tick with.

I indexed 84 individuals tonight. It's been quit a while since I've done that many names in one batch. I have indexed 7,897 individuals to date. Not to bad for ALMOST a year's work.

Oh, and don't forget to read my previous two articles that I posted on my blog. They tell about FamilySearch teaming up with to bring us the England and Wales Census. You have free access to the images at your local Family History Center. The second article is about FamilySearch and Ancestry working together on the U.S. Censuses. The images and indexes will be enhanced through joint cooperation. These also will be available at your local Family History Center for free on a ongoing bases and a short time for free on

I understand how some might be disappointed that all the images might not be available from home for free. FamilySearch is just working out how to make the most records available the quickest to everyone. We will see more and more of these partnerships in various shapes and sizes. All the indexes will be free and that's a good thing.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!


Sue Anne said...

Hey Renee,

You asked how one gets appointed to be an arbitrator. Each stake has a FamilySearch coordinator and it's up to them to identify indexers in their stake who they think would make good arbitrators. It's also their responsibility to keep track of the indexing:arbitration ratio for their stake.

Anonymous said...


If you open another batch with the highlights off the page, try clicking "Reset Hightlights" in the Tools menu. It may or may not work for you, but I've tried it and it worked for me.

ML in Idaho

Anonymous said...

All indexers should check out the brand new tutorial found on under the Help tab. Even those who have been indexing since the beginning should go through it carefully. You will not regret the time you spend on it. Everyone will learn something. If everyone did this, the arbitrator's task would be simplified.

Anonymous said...


I'm sorry, I told you wrong. The "Reset Highlights" option is in the "View" menu, not "Tools".

By the way, I really appreciate your posting of the New FamilySearch areas for going live. It's a little frustrating that I live in a district that will probably be one of the last (Idaho Falls), but the more that are activated means the closer we are.

And thanks to the other "Anonymous" poster about the tutorial. I'll give it a try.

ML in Idaho

Anonymous said...

I don't know about you, but I get little satisfaction out of doing the censuses. It's all been done before, and most of us can get access to or a similar site either at home or at the library. I'd much rather see people working on vital records and overseas stuff. And the vital records stuff is often much easier to read. Also, wouldn't it be cool if they told you how many far along they were on the projects? I'd rather spend time on a project that was nearly done than one that has a long way to go.