Monday, July 21, 2014

FamilySearch Worldwide Indexing Event – Did You Participate?

Yesterday and today, FamilySearch held its second Worldwide Indexing Event, with a goal of at least 50,000 indexers and arbitrators submitting at least one batch each over a 24-hour period. Randy Seaver on Genea-Musings says they well surpassed their goal, with more than 60,000 participants.

I'm happy to report that I was able to contribute six batches to the U.S. Passport Applications project, for a total of 20 records. It was an intermediate-level project that counted 3 points for each record. Nothing too strenuous – a couple of illegible names or places were the only glitches.

This wasn't my first foray into indexing. Last year I did a number of batches totalling 199 records on three separate projects. Then there was a spell when I couldn't find any active projects that interested me (I'm partial to Maine, New Hampshire, and English-speaking Canada), so I hadn't done any for some time (none since the first of this year, in fact). Maybe now I'll get back into indexing a little more regularly.

I tend to find some of the indexing "rules" slightly frustrating, particularly the one that says you only enter a gender when it's explicitly stated or can be deduced from language such as specific pronouns (he/she) or references to husband or wife. You're explicitly instructed not to make assumptions based on the individual's name. OK, I can see that for gender-ambiguous names such as Chris or Leslie... but it seems like it would be hard to go wrong with names like William, Roger, Kathleen, etc. (And yes, I know there are exceptions like actress Michael Learned.) Nevertheless, I followed the rules, and refrained from entering M or F based solely on the name.

Another field instruction in this set I just found a bit odd: for the "event date" you were instructed to enter the most recent year found on the application (as long as it wasn't the applicant's date of birth). In the case of these records, the actual application dates (when the forms were signed and stamped as received) were all in late December of 1919, but nearly all of them stated that they were expecting to travel out of the country in January of 1920. So according to the instructions, 1920 should be entered for the "event date," and that's what I recorded. But I can't help but feel that's a little misleading; to my mind, the "event date" for a passport application should be, well, the date of the application itself. I'm still waiting to see whether the arbitrators uphold my strict adherence to the instructions, or bend the rules themselves and make changes – which has happened to me before.

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