Starts Volunteer Indexing Project Starts Volunteer Indexing Project

The subscription service is launching a volunteer indexing project that looks to compete with FamilySearch’s records indexing project.The Ancestry 24/7 Family Circle Blog announced in March that was planning a volunteer indexing initiative. The anonymous Ancestry Insider blogger recently reported that the just-launched-in-beta World...

The subscription service is launching a volunteer indexing project that looks to compete with FamilySearch’s records indexing project.

The Ancestry 24/7 Family Circle Blog announced in March that was planning a volunteer indexing initiative. The anonymous Ancestry Insider blogger recently reported that the just-launched-in-beta World Archives Project will recruit volunteers to index’s digitized records using an online tool. Then will publish the index free. The record images will be part of’s subscription services.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ FamilySearch was first to start a large-scale project for volunteers to index records using an online tool. FamilySearch Indexing is producing both indexes and record images that will be available free (you can access some now at FamilySearch Labs).

Other FamilySearch indexing initiatives will make indexes free online, with record images available free at FamilySearch research centers, or for a fee from record repositories or third-party database sites.

I’m curious how you all feel about—a for-profit business—using volunteer labor. Does the free index make the idea palatable? What about the possibility that actual genealogists will create a better-quality index than currently offers?

Click here to sign up for’s e-mail notifications about the World Archives Project.

Related Products


Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


  1. Whether they get many volunteers probably will depend upon the type and quality of &quot;incentives&quot; they offer. I really don’t have any issues with the program (hopefully all volunteers will truly understand that Ancestry is a &quot;for profit&quot; company) but, personally, I won’t be indexing for Ancestry. I’ve done some indexing for FamilySearch and have no problem doing so since they are a &quot;not for profit&quot; enterprise. As far as the quality of the indexes I think it has a lot to do with familiarity with names in a given locality as well as the quality of the images and the legibility of writing of the originals.

  2. Henry Williamsson

    I am not indexing for Ancestry AT ALL and would encourage other genealogists to do the same. Ancestry is a for-profit business and if you notice in the article above, you will see that they WILL NOT provide the images for free when all is said and done. Index for FamilySearch, it’s much better than shoving money down the throats of Ancestry’s corporate higher-ups.

  3. I agree about indexing for FamilySearch rather than Ancestry, although I use the latter and it has helped me a great deal in my own research and when I’ve helped others, I don’t see the point of indexing for them when only the INDEX is going to be available free. I have found a LOT of information through FamilySearchLabs including dozens of Ohio death certificates I could never find or would have to pay out for elsewhere.

    One other thing, the link above to the FamilySearchLabs site, is NOT working, in order to get to it I had to go the the FamilySearch site and click on the sneak peek link they have on their home page. Just thought I’d give a heads up.

  4. I have no problem with Ancestry recruiting volunteers as long as the index is free. Some information (an index) is better than none if Ancestry doesn’t have the staff to produce an index themselves. I’m all for any project that helps people find their ancestors.

    Here’s an even better idea though…why not offer to PAY people to index the records? Even if its not a lot of money, you’d surely get more people offering to help, and then you skirt around the touchy subject of asking for ‘volunteers’ to help you with your ‘for profit’ site.

  5. I have no problem with asking for volunteers especially since they will be allowing the information to everyone. I am a paying member of who resisted for YEARS subscribing. I just joined a few months ago. I had been doing family research for over 30 years. It has been a tremendous help for me, and I will be glad to return the favor by volunteering for this new project.

  6. IMO, anybody can use volunteers, whether or not they’re for profit or not for profit.

    As a volunteer, I choose carefully where I want to spend my limited time. I chose to volunteer for FamilySearch because LDS has a history of making records available at relatively low-cost. I am not a LDS member, but have benefited from their efforts and would like to give a little back. I have confidence that my contributions will help other researchers and will not be used to generate profits. I also very much want to have access to more online records!

    I would not choose to volunteer for, for a variety of reasons. Oddly, enough I might consider volunteering for if the opportunity arose. I think it’s because of my perception of the differences in product quality. I have subscriptions to both and I value both, but if I want to donate my time, I’d like to be part of a high quality effort. Ancestry has not demonstrated to me that they have established processes which will lead to excellence. Throwing more people, volunteer or not, at the work will not necessarily improve anything.

    Just my opinion.

  7. I wonder how long the indexes made with volunteer labor will stay free. Even though they may initially be free, Ancestry management potentially could reverse that decision at any time in the future.

  8. I would not volunteer to Ancestry. I would for LDS. The reason is that LDS is free and I would like to keep it that way. Ancestry is a paid-for-site and much too expensive. I like Ancestry because many times they have information that no one else has, but I can’t afford the subscription cost.
    LDS is a good place to research and they try to keep the information accurate.


  9. I agree with a lot of people here. Ancestry is a paid-for-site. Unless they would help to keep subscription cost down, I don’t see the benefit I would get from volunteering my valuable free time to their project. Also, in this bad economy, who’s job would I be taking away by volunteering my time to Having the index free to view to members is nice to those who don’t have a subscription. But I pay for my subscription and the college library in town has the Ancestry Library free for anyone who come into the library. you need to have better incentives, such as if you volunteer we will donate a small amount to your local genealogy society, we will open up records to the Ancestry Library subscriptions, etc…

  10. Since Ancestry bought out RootsWeb, do you realize that they are now harvesting all the information that used to be on there, which was freely donated by &quot;volunteers&quot;? Ancestry is taking the census transcriptions which were done and donated to the U.S. GENWEB. I wonder how long it will be before we have to pay for them? There are some good people, involved with RootsWeb, who are moving as much as they can, to other servers that are not affiliated with Ancestry.

    Now, Ancestry has the audacity to ask for volunteers, to index the material they’ve already taken????? It’s become a crazy world, but I won’t be one of those volunteers.

  11. I am a champion of having correct information, so whenever I find errors in Ancestry’s census records, I constantly submit corrections. To that end, I would not mind volunteering to index to benefit my fellow genealogists who are paying valuable dollars for subscriptions and should expect correct information. I do believe that as a genealogist, I have better expertise in my region of common names etc. where a regular indexer/employee might not be as detailed. I also think that Ancestry should offer a small stipend such as a percentage off of the volunteer’s own annual subscription. Sign me up.

  12. I see the value of volunteer indexers being the quality of work (genealogists are much more familiar with the records than a minimum wage worker), the potential increased speed in completion (Ancestry will never hire the number of people it takes to complete this as quickly as volunteer indexers could) and the value in the index itself. If they have the same goals as familysearch, big if but still, the index would have so much valuable information in itself that most people would never have the need to purchase the image itself just to determine if it is the correct individual. I think my final decision would rest with the actual records being indexed, if I felt that those were of such value and not available elsewhere (such as on the free FamilySearch). I am an indexer for FamilySearch and the &quot;practice&quot; of working with these records has been invaluable in my ability to work with my own records; we really do benefit personally from our volunteer work on this project. And it’s great to be part of something so big that benefits every genealogist everywhere that has access to the internet.