Michele Simmons Lewis, Student
I have a tip for anyone working through the German courses. If you want some real life practice reading German documents I highly recommend that you volunteer as an indexer for FamilySearch. Not only will you be giving back to the genealogy community you will be putting what you are learning in the German courses into use and you will get feedback on how well you did.
Don’t know what Indexing is? Here is some general information:
- The Family History Library is digitizing their microfilm. They need volunteers to index the images to make them more user friendly for researchers.
- You will download a small indexing program to your computer (FamilySearch will be switching over to a web-based indexing system soon). You can see what the program looks like and how it works HERE.
- You will need to watch/read all of the training materials
- You can then select a batch and off you go!
“But I am worried that I won’t be able to read the handwriting and I will make a mistake!”
- All batches are indexed by TWO indexes. If the indexers disagree on anything the entire batch goes to an arbitrator who will decide
- There are batches for beginner, intermediate and advanced indexers
- If you ever pick up a batch and it looks too difficult you can throw it back into the queue and pick up a different one
- If there is something on a batch you need help with you can “share” your batch with another indexer or arbitrator for their opinion
- After a batch has been arbitrated you will have the opportunity to review the batch and see what the arbitrator changed
- You will be given your percentage of agreement with the arbitrators. As you gain experience you will see this number go up. This is a great way to monitor your progress
The #1 reason an arbitrator has to change an entry has absolutely nothing to do with how well the person was able to read the handwriting. The #1 reason an arbitrator changes something is because the indexer did not read the specific instructions for that project. Each project has its own set of instructions and they can be very different from project to project. I have been an arbitrator for a long time and I have to say it is a bit frustrating when I have to go through a batch and change a lot of things just because an indexer did not read the instructions.
New projects are added as when current projects are finished.
This is a win-win situation. You get practice using your new German skills and FamilySearch gets indexed digital images of their German documents that everyone can use.