Success Stories Flow In from International Indexing Challenge

Contributed By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer

  • 27 August 2014

Members of the Temple View Young Single Adult Ward in Gilbert, Arizona, participate in the International Indexing Challenge.  Photo courtesy of Diane Ellison, courtesy FamilySearch International.

Article Highlights

  • On July 22, 66,511 volunteers went on the Internet to do indexing to be added to the FamilySearch database.
  • Success stories have come in from all over the world about the impact the challenge has had on participants.

“All told, as a family we indexed just over 900 records! We feel so blessed to be able to participate in this vital work. It helps that it is such fun to do!” —Christopher Jones of Porthmadog, Wales

A challenge by the Church’s FamilySearch International to establish a new record for the most volunteer indexing participants online in a single day met with success on July 22, as 66,511 volunteers went on the Internet to view images of historical records and transcribe the information for inclusion in the searchable database on

The total went well beyond the previous one-day record of 49,025 volunteers, set in July 2012 at the height of the 1940 U.S. Census indexing effort.

In addition to the number of participants, what was dubbed the International Indexing Challenge also produced the second-highest combined (indexed or arbitrated) total of submitted records, reaching just over 5.7 million. (Each record is indexed by two volunteers and than reviewed by a third volunteer, known as an arbitrator, to ensure quality and accuracy.)

“FamilySearch indexing volunteers continue to astound with their dedication to indexing day in and day out and their ability to not only meet but far exceed every challenge set before them,” said Mike Judson, FamilySearch indexing workforce development manager. “In my mind, the best part of this success is how many people are going to be helped to find their ancestors because so many volunteers were willing to give their time to this great cause.”

That the indexers themselves have felt joy and motivation is reflected in success stories that have come to the Family History Department in the days since the record was set.

For example, this statement was posted in French on the FamilySearch French blog:

“I am the bishop of the Toulouse Capitole Ward. I have mobilized my ward for that event and enrolled as many youth as possible. We increased from six indexers to 49! Our ward has indexed more records in July than our whole stake did in 2013. We are indexing the project for Toulouse, our own city. This is a great chance, and I want our ward to accomplish 99 percent of the project. Our members, young and old, have participated with a happy heart. What a beautiful experience.”

Christopher Jones of Porthmadog, Wales, wrote:

“What a wonderful day this was! As a family we had such a wonderful experience participating in this great effort. We arranged our family home evening so that we could all index—two parents and seven children aged 18 to 5. We began by watching the two wonderful videos about why we index and how it helps to uncover and make available records of our ancestors. The younger children particularly enjoyed this presentation.

“We then set about logging in and creating new accounts for those children that didn’t have one. Working on four computers, we each took turns indexing records and helping the younger ones to read and identify names and to enter their details. One son had already gotten a head start, indexing several hundred names the day before and submitting them as part of the event. Another son was so engrossed in the challenge and so taken by indexing that he added another 150 records the following day.

“All told, as a family we indexed just over 900 records! We feel so blessed to be able to participate in this vital work. It helps that it is such fun to do!”

Natalie Terry of the Chaengwattena Ward, Bangkok North Thailand Stake, had heard of indexing, as her mother had participated before the advent of indexing on the Internet. When her family moved from Wiesbaden, Germany, to Amman, Jordan, she looked for something to replace her goal of regularly attending the temple since she no longer had a temple within convenient access. With the encouragement of her mother, she looked into indexing and tried it.

“I was hooked,” she wrote.

Now the family has moved to Bangkok, where, again, they do not live close enough to a temple to attend regularly.

“Even though I had gotten out of the habit, I’ve just recently renewed my goal,” she wrote. “I was able to get my 13-year-old daughter started indexing too.”

She added, “I loved participating in the worldwide indexing day. It helped me feel connected to everyone else in the world who is helping to index and arbitrate. Thank you to everyone who supports this program (technically, logistically) and who makes it possible for me to do something in lieu of my regular temple attendance.”

Chris Shead of the Chorley 4th Ward, Chorley England Stake, wrote that he set for himself the task of doing as much indexing as time would permit in fulfillment of the International Indexing Challenge.

In the middle of his last batch—records of Manchester baptisms from the late 1800s—he ran across a name that struck a chord with him. It seemed like someone who might be related to his wife’s family.

Checking the name in the database, he confirmed that the name was indeed part of the ancestry of his wife, Debbie, and he managed to obtain a copy of her parents’ marriage certificate and her father’s birth certificate. He then found census records that tracked her family for three generations, yielding about 30 new names for family history records.

“I then discovered that this little girl died soon after her baptism and had fallen through the gaps between the census records,” he wrote. “Had I not found her in the indexing, she may well not have been found at all.

“This has taught me a … lesson of how valuable the indexing is in the area of baptismal and burial records in particular—so many children out there who died almost before their lives began, needing to be linked into their families.”