News Release

Volunteers Help to Preserve the Past


Family history enthusiasts from Melbourne’s south east joined forces to bring historical records to light at a community indexing event held recently as part of National Family History Month.

Organised by members of the Melbourne, Braeside Stake (diocese) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ‘Let’s Index 2019’ focused on indexing - a global crowdsourcing effort that enables people worldwide to access information about their ancestors.

Attendees volunteered their time to decipher and type up information from scanned historical documents using an online program called ‘FamilySearch Indexing’.

“The event was designed to begin spreading the word on indexing and to build enthusiasm for the work that actually enables us to research our family history,” said Katherine Foley, a volunteer family history consultant who helped organise the event.

“The hints on both and are the direct result of an individual, like you and like me, transcribing the information through indexing,” said Katherine.

Armed with laptops, the team of indexers got to work, assisting one another to transcribe records such as parish registers, military records, and naturalisation records. With the ability to select record batches by level of difficulty, there was something suitable for every experience level.

“We had a band of enthusiastic attendees, some of whom were beginners, some who have experience and others who wanted assistance with improving things like their writing deciphering techniques,” said Katherine.

Kirk Weeden, from Frankston, Victoria, saw the activity as an opportunity to learn and serve.

“What I liked about it was that it felt as though we were uncovering lost personal histories, and that we were recognising the value of a person’s life through the simple act of data entry,” said Kirk. “It’s a work of love.”

“Some people wonder why we should index when we have our own work to do. In my mind, indexing is a simple and meaningful service opportunity that turns us toward each other, and let’s face it - we’re all one family.”

In 2019 alone, 8.5 million new photos and stories were added to websites like and as a result of volunteer indexing efforts. Members of the Braeside Stake have already indexed 16,654 records this year. These volunteers range from primary school age children to seniors.

At age 11, Isabelle McKendry, from Frankston South, Victoria, is one of the project’s younger volunteers. For Isabelle, indexing is more than just data entry.

“I enjoy finding out about people's lives in the past and the highlights of their lives,” said Isabelle. “I also enjoy helping others build their family trees by doing indexing.”

If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer indexer, visit and find a project. There are also guided tours and help resources to help you get started.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.