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Inmates Help With Indexing

computer keyboard closeupMany genealogists are aware of what indexing is. For some, it is because they have read about it on the FamilySearch website. Indexing is done on a volunteer basis, and it isn’t unusual for amateur genealogists to consider helping out with that task. An article published by the Salt Lake Tribune points out that some inmates have been given the opportunity to help others by spending their time working on indexing.

The FamilySearch website is a service provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Genealogists of all religions (or no religion) can use the FamilySearch website for free. Those who would like to help others can volunteer their services in a number of ways.

One way is to become a live research assistant, and help other genealogists research their family history. This is done on the phone or through online chat. Or, you can help others find answers to their questions about their family tree. This is done via telephone. Another way to help out is index historical records.

Anyone who wants to help can volunteer with indexing. No special skills are required. FamilySearch started their indexing project in 2006. The goal is to create searchable digital indexes for scanned images of historical documents. The documents can include census records, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, military records, property records, and more. In short, those who volunteer their efforts with indexing are making it easier for other genealogists to put together their family tree.

The Salt Lake Tribune published an article called “Inside Job: Inmates help further Mormon genealogy work” on April 1, 2014. The article points out:

The Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opened the first Family History Center at the Utah State Prison more than 20 years ago. Today, there are four centers at the prison – in the Oquirrh, Wasatch, Timpanogos and Promontory units, and one at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison.

In 2013, inmates who volunteered with indexing at Utah State Prison centers indexed more than 2 million records. This is according to director of LDS Correctional Services for Salt Lake and Summit counties, Wayne Parker. Inmates also put in about 50,000 hours of personal family research.

The article notes that it appears that the inmates were positively affected by their efforts at indexing. It feels good to help out other people, so it is possible some inmates are feeling good as a result. They can also learn keyboarding skills by helping out with indexing. Some begin working on their own family trees, and become inspired by the achievements of their ancestors. All the volunteer work that inmates do on indexing is overseen by volunteers (who are not inmates).

Image by Alan on Flickr.

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