Tech Tuesday: Index the Records You Most Want

Family Search Indexing Pilot

Have you wanted to index records that are most important to your research? Do you want to get your family involved in family history through a project that directly benefits your family? FamilySearch has a new indexing pilot that you'll want to investigate. 

Truth be told, I have been a little burnt out from church sponsored indexing goals and have nearly dropped out of the indexing service pool. That is until I discovered this pilot while at RootsTech. In fact, I almost didn't make the discovery at all.

A Family Search convention hall staff member and I were visiting about how much I love FamilySearch Family Tree. Somehow we started talking about how I wish I could index a few of the pages before and after the probate records I find for my ancestors. If I'm already in a collection that's not indexed, I wouldn't mind spending a few moments indexing a few paper neighbors while I'm there.

I was personally walked over to the "Indexing on the Fly" booth in Innovators Alley and a new discovery was made.

If you use Google Chrome browser, you can add an extension from the Chrome Web Store (here's the link Follow the prompts to install the little green and white icon in your Google search header bar. 

FamilySearch Pilot Chrome Icon
Notice the familiar FamilySearch logo parked beside my extensions for
Evernote, Amazon, Feedly, and Pintrest

Once that's installed, you can find navigate to an Image Only collection on FamilySearch, like this. 

Family Search Ohio Image Only Record List
All states and nations have an Image Only Collection on FamilySearch
I navigated to the list of image only record collections for Ohio. I was hoping to find an image only collection for Franklin County, Ohio as that's where my family is primarily from. No such luck. However, I thought if I help index one part of Ohio, perhaps this will trigger a reaction chain that will bring forth Franklin County records.

With that philosophy in mind, I selected the Grace Episcopal Church Record collection. It's small and looked interesting.
Grace Episcopal Church Record Information Page
Grace Episcopal Church Record Information Page
When I clicked on the Grace Episcopal Church record link, I was taken to a record collection information page and discovered a link to browse the digitized collection.

Grace Episcopal Church Record Set Page
Grace Episcopal Church Record Set Page
Apparently there are two parish register volumes in this collection, so FamilySearch has a further link to the small record sets. This holds true in large record collections, so keep that in mind. You'll keep making selections until you are arrive at one digitized image batch.

Notice how I have the two open windows arranged are side-by-side. That happened after I pressed the little green icon in the Chrome banner. Be sure that you can view both the image panel and the indexing pilot tool panel at the same time.

Grace Episcopal Church Record Instruction Page
Grace Episcopal Church Record Instruction Page
In this record collection, there was a set of instructions for the people who would be writing in the original church books. I learned so much when reviewing this page. If your record collection has this information at the beginning of the image set, spend sometime familiarizing yourself with these handy nuggets.

You'll want to know that the pilot tool, unlike the Family Search Indexing Program, does not have all the help files and sample images for your image collection. You're a bit on your own when working on these projects. So, be sure you understand what you're looking at before you begin indexing.

Indexing using the Pilot Tool
Indexing a Baptism record from Grace Episcopal Church in Galion, Ohio using the Pilot Tool
The Pilot Tool is fairly simple to use and I'll include some links at the bottom of this post for more detailed training for the application. I simply looked at the image on the left  and completed the form on the right. I included the principal individual's name, a baptism and birth date (provided in the record). 

I had to make an educated guess that since this is a church's baptismal record then the location for the baptism would be in Galion, Ohio (where this church was situated). My prior indexing experience would frown on making this assumption. However, this collection is for the baptisms and other rites for a particular church in a particular place. I think I'm safe in making this assumption. 

I included the additional names on this register for two parents and three witnesses. The last witness only had "Mrs. Bull" for her name, so I just put the last name as there's no place for a title.

This register entry spans across two pages. Previous indexing projects said in these circumstances to combine the two images into one index page. Once again, I have to make my own determinations to combine the information from the two images into one entry. 

Successful Pilot Index Submision
Look at that green 'Upload Successful' message!
I love to know I've been successful and this tool says, in a lovely shade of green, "Upload Successful!" after I press the submit button. After a few brief moments, that message is replaced with another message.

Pilot Indexing Entry Notice
Indexing Entry Notice
Under the form and the interactive buttons, a new message indicates that there is at least one entry for this record found in the database associated with the image. If you are browsing in the pilot tool and looking for where you stopped or where you can start, the presence of this message is fairly handy.

Indexing a second name on a pilot image
Press reset after each submitted entry to move on to the next name.
After submitting the first name and seeing my success notices, I pressed the form reset button to clear out the form and to start the next baptismal entry on this image. Now, it's possible that you can start a new record without the need to press reset, but this method worked the best for me.

Indexing multiple names on the same image
Two entries for this record!
After completing the form and pressing submit for the second name on this baptismal register, I now have two entries for the image in particular. Hooray! How cool is that?

Now, there is a cool feature unique to this tool that you'll want to discover. You can see the list of names you've submitted and make changes if necessary. You can't do that with the current Family Search Indexing program.

So let's just say that you realize the particular record set is very consistent in the placement of the mother's names and father's names on the baptismal records. Thus, you should be identifying the more specific paternal role of mother and father, rather than simply parent. You can make that edit to your previous submissions!

All you have to do is press "View Submissions" in the Pilot Extension that's near the bottom of that screen. Then search by the specific individual or by your email address.

Review the names submitted using the pilot tool
List of all the names you've submitted using the pilot tool
Navigate to the individual you want to edit and press the linked Family_ID number.

Make necessary changes with the FamilySearch Pilot Tool
Make necessary changes with the FamilySearch Pilot Tool

I would make the necessary changes and press the Correct/Override button. How sweet is that?

Yes this is a very brief and rough run down on the Chrome extension tool that will allow you to index 'on the fly' for FamilySearch.. If you want to investigate it further here are two links that may be useful:

FamilySearch Blog Post about Family Search Pilot Indexing Program

Now, keep in mind a few things:

  • It's a pilot program - you should be familiar with the regular FamilySearch indexing rules and procedures before you tackle this. 
  • The program lacks help files but, I've had great conversations with the folks associated with this program and know they'll be happy to help you too.
  • The records you submit are not connected to the FamilySearch database for searching at this time. The data will eventually feed that system, but it's not there yet. 
  • Additionally, if you're hoping to have your indexing 'count' for a church, ward, or stake goal, these numbers will not appear in the FamilySearch indexing report counts. 
  • Finally, this pilot is not taking the place of FamilySearch's indexing program. Keep using the indexing program.
I really like this tool. When I have free time and want to do service, I have found myself working on the church records in Ohio. I look forward to seeing how this innovation develops in the future. And who knows, maybe more Franklin County, Ohio specific records will come along for me to index.


  1. Replies
    1. You're welcome Amanda. It's really an interesting pilot too. And John Clements, who comments below, is really super helpful if you get stuck.

  2. What a great writeup! Thanks for promoting the tool. We talked on the phone a couple of times and I answered some of your questions regarding the tool. Just wanted you to know that if you update the extension, you will see that "witness" has been added to the relative drop down.

    1. John,

      Yes! I remember speaking with you and you really helped me a lot. That's awesome that the witness has been added because I really think for church records that's more accurate. And for naturalization records, same thing. So. Yeah!

      As time permits, I'll keep indexing with this system.

      - Devon Lee

  3. Devon,

    This is such a great new tool!

    I want to tell you that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  4. Hi Devon! It was great to see you at RootsTech. Time to get you writing that guest post on Family Locket! I also stopped by the "indexing on the fly" booth and was totally fascinated. I shared your helpful post in my favorite reads of the week. Thanks for writing it!

    1. Thanks Nicole. That post is in the works.


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