Do you use the incredible FREE collections offered by FamilySearch (FS) as you do your family history and genealogy? We know you use TNGenWeb (of course!!! 🙂 ), and there are also many other great free resources available. FamilySearch is often at the top of that list given the extensive amount of information they make available to us all as researchers. Well, one reason their information is so valuable are the many, many hours put in by volunteers to index their image collections.
Perhaps one of the biggest and most widely publicized efforts was their initiative to index the 1940 Census. Images for the 1940 census were released in April 2012 and due to the extensive volunteer effort, indexing was completed in August of the same year. We here at TNGenWeb even did our part – with a group of more than 50 volunteers, our TNGenWeb researchers indexed more than 360,000 names. It was a great experience!
Since then, FamilySearch has continued to make new records sets available for volunteer indexing, but here’s the kicker – we’ve had to WAIT for them to make those sets READY for indexing. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to index ANY of their image-only collections and start contributing to the database?
Well, that day is soon coming as FamilySearch has now created a Google Chrome extension to be able to do just that!
For now the tool is in a very early pilot stage, but the FamilySearch Pilot Tool (current moniker) allows you to pick any image-only collection at FamilySearch and index away! Once it goes live “for real”, any information you index will be added to the FamilySearch database for everyone to search (right now, in beta, it goes to a “dummy” database). Not only that, but when it is finally launched, you will be able to index information on any website that participates in the project. Indexes created in partnership with other websites means more records for FamilySearch and more visibility for online record collections who participate as FS will link back to the originating source.
To test the pilot tool out, download the Chrome Extension here. Once installed in your Chrome browser, the FamilySearch tree icon (with a green background) will appear in the top right corner. Click on the icon to open the tool and set up your configuration options. The configuration options are fairly straightforward – you enter your language, country, name, email address, and you even can create up to 3 “custom fields” to add to the tool for indexing. Once configured, you restart your browser, navigate to an image-only collection on the FamilySearch website and get started! As you index, the tool keeps up with the number of submissions you’ve contributed and even lets you know if the record you are indexing has been indexed already.
To help you get acquainted with how the tool works, I’ve done a brief video for you. Enjoy!
Give it a try and be sure to let us know how it works for you. Since the tool is still in beta mode they will greatly appreciate the feedback. Many thanks to FamilySearch for making such a extension available!