One billion. It’s the population of Africa. And as of April, FamilySearch has indexed that many names since it’s beginning, seven years ago.
FamilySearch is the largest genealogical organization in the world, and is run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Kenneth B. of California, Brittney S. of Idaho, and April R. of Alberta, Canada indexed the billionth record at 2:40 p.m. on April 19. They are three of about 407,900 volunteer indexers in the United States and Canada.
“It took us seven years to reach the first billion,” according to FamilySearch. “How long do you think it will take us to reach the next billion?”
According to Deseret News, between April 19 and April 22, more than 685,000 more names were indexed and archived on the site.
Courtney Ray, a junior studying child development, learned about FamilySearch during her first semester at BYU-Idaho, when she was called as a ward indexer in the Rexburg YSA 33rd Ward. “It was very interesting. It became an addiction,” Ray said.
Ray herself has indexed about 10,000 names since Winter 2012 Semester.
“It’s kinda hard to believe that what I did was that significant. I mean, 10,000 is a lot, but out of that billion, that’s a pretty small portion,” Ray said.
Ray said that the hardest part of indexing is remembering one’s www.lds.org login information.
The FamilySearch website, www.familysearch.org, which underwent a full makeover in April 2013, includes instructions for amateur indexers to help them get started.
“I think it’s gonna help a lot with those who are actually really into doing family history work, because it makes so many more records available through the church without having to pay for them, without having to do as much in-depth research,” Ray said.
According to www.familysearch.org, FamilySearch started as the Genealogical Society of Utah in 1894. Indexing began in 1921, when names and dates were recorded on handwritten index cards, according to www.mormonnewsroom.org. Between then and 2006, volunteers indexed more than 900 million records.
In 1961 indexing information was recorded on a punch card computer system, and by 1987 volunteers could do computer-based indexing from home. Volunteers would mail records to Salt Lake City on floppy disks, and later CD-ROMs, according to www.mormonnewsroom.org. It wasn’t until 2006, when www.familysearch.org launched, that indexing was available online.
Indexers include members of the Church and a variety of other faiths. In addition to the more than 400,000 volunteer indexers located in the United States and Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Australia contributed more than 28,000 volunteers and 28,000 records all together.