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FamilySearch's Chicago Catholic Church Record Indexing Project: Please Help

Yesterday I learned from the IL-COOK-CHICAGO-L mailing list that FamilySearch has begun a project to index Chicago's Catholic church records. The project title is

US, Illinois, Chicago—Catholic Church Records, 1833–1910 [Part A]

and the resulting index will give us powerful new ways to access these records.

Why is the project so important? Just off the top of my head . . .

1) It will create an index to pre-Fire Catholic deaths.

2) It will create a multi-parish index to pre-Fire Catholic births.

3) In many cases it will alleviate the need to try to guess a baptismal parish using a family’s address (which often doesn’t work)

4) It will be a useful tool for locating baptisms that took place in a parish
that wouldn’t have been the “logical” choice.

I don’t have a lot of free time—we are working very hard to meet our goal of having the new version of ready for public beta by the site’s two-year anniversary this coming October—but I will do my best to contribute.

One of the things I’ve noticed searching for Chicago death records at FamilySearch is that there transcription errors that sometimes make it hard to pull records out of the database. This is inevitable, completely understandable, and I’m grateful to indexers who did their absolute best to decipher those hard-to-read records. But, as this new project begins, I’d encourage Chicago researchers who have experience working with the Catholic records and a familiarity with Chicago surnames to join in the project. I’m thinking the more pages that are indexed by people from the Chicago research community, the better the index will be.

And to that end, I’ve been thinking how much fun it would be to have a FamilySearch indexing party. I picture friends gathering around a table, laptops plugged in, batches downloaded and ready to go. Along with the clicking of computer keys, there’d be the occasional, “Please pass the chocolate-covered cashews?” and “Can anyone tell what this letter is?” Have any of you ever tried that? Was it fun?


Thanks for spreading the word about this new Chicago project. We completely agree that the best index will come from those who research these names and localities.

An indexing party sounds great! Can we be invited? Also, have you ever considered doing an indexing party through Google Hangout if you aren't close enough to meet in the same room? You'd all have to buy your own chocolate-covered cashews but it could still be a lot of fun.

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