Brick Wall Ancestor Got You Down? Try Some Transcribing and Indexing

A lot of people have more time for genealogy these days. Us genealogists are handling the new measures better than most, because we have no problem staying in and losing hours in pursuit of our ancestors. My job is considered essential, so I still get up and go to work every day. However, I\’m still getting in more research time than normal due to physical distancing.

The downside to everything is that the Archives and Libraries are closed. But thanks to the digital age we live in, there is a TON of online resources for us to further our research. But what to do when that Brick Wall Ancestor starts making you tear your hair out? Why not take a frustration break and do some transcribing, indexing and/or tagging of photos. Several projects have started up over the last few weeks. These projects are gifts that keep on giving.

  1. It helps the genealogy community as a whole. Someone years from now is going to be finding that record or photo and do a happy dance. 
  2. By stepping away from your own research and focusing elsewhere, you\’ll have a clearer head when you go back to it. 
  3. You get to hone your skills at deciphering handwriting.
  4. You might stumble onto a record or photo that is applicable to your own research
So, this week, I\’m going to provide links to projects. Now, I usually try and focus on Canadian research in my blog. But in the interest of genealogy as a whole, I\’m going to include projects outside of Canada as well. 

Family Search
These guys have always got some projects going on. Just go to their Indexing page to get started. They have projects from all over the world in many different languages. A couple relating to Canadian research are:
The World Indexing Project by Ancestry is another global initiative. You will have to download the keying tool in order to participate. Each record set shows the language and difficulty level. No Canadian projects right now, but they have:
  • United Kingdom-4
  • Germany- 2
  • Australia- 2
  • Ukraine- 1
  • Italy – 1
Library and Archives Canada
Co-Lab is the LAC\’s central hub for their projects. They have divided their \”challenges\” into different categories: transcription, translation, tagging, and description. There are 13 challenges on the go right now, including:
Here are some other projects I\’ve found out about

United States
  • The Newberry Library in Chicago has letters and diaries needing transcribing that deal with 19th and early 20th century life in the Midwest
  • The New York Public Library has a few projects on the go. A really fascinating one is the NYPL Community Oral History Project. Volunteers are needed to help with the transcribing of oral histories about life in New York City.
  • The Smithsonian always has projects on the go.Check out their Digital Volunteers page regularly to see what they have. Right now, they have 18 projects in progress. 
  • The U.S. National Archives is another site with multiple projects on the go. I counted at least 20 projects on their Citizen Achivist page. They have everything from the beginner level to expert level
  • The Library of Congress has 16 \”campaigns\” going on right now. Each campaign is made up of smaller projects.

And Elsewhere…
  • University College London has huge project going on transcribing the writings of philosopher Jeremy Bentham
  • Free UK Genealogy is a huge crowd sourcing project for UK BMDs and Census records
  • Gould Genealogy made a post in February of 2019 of transcription projects in Australia. It\’s a year old but will give yo a good starting point in finding records to transcribe there.
  • The UK National Archives have several projects that don\’t require on site access
  • French site Geneanet has lots of indexing projects
  • The NIOD in the Netherlands are looking for people to help transcribe WWII diaries
Look Locally
If you want a project that coincides with your own research interests, try contacting the local Institution or Society of your area of research. They are always looking for volunteers. I checked on Genealogical Society web pages across Canada, and almost all had a notice looking for transcribing/indexing volunteers. In the current COVID world, some of these projects could be on hiatus. However, if the material can be done from your home, then I\’m sure they would be glad to have you on board. Some require you to be a member. Now is as good a time as any to try out a membership and see what they\’re about.
If you know of any transcription/indexing projects let us know in the comments. 

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