Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Volunteerism: My Vevay Newspaper Index Project

The first Carnival of Genealogy has been posted for 2010. The topic for the 88th COG is volunteerism. Thanks to Jasia at Creative Genes for another great topic!

I know that many of us have volunteered our time indexing for FamilySearch and Ancestry's World Archives Project. I found these projects a great way to work on reading old handwriting, but I also had trouble finding projects that included my ancestors. I liked helping others find their families, but I was looking for something that would help researchers where my ancestors lived.

That's when I found that the Switzerland County (Indiana) High School had digitized 50 years of the local newspaper. The images were all TIFF files and there was no OCR scans to search. I began looking at the dates in my database and trying to find obituaries for my ancestors. It was time consuming to download the all the images and try to find the page with what you were looking for (if it was even there).

And then I had an idea...

Why not put together an index of all the BMD information in the newspapers? It shouldn't take too long or be too hard right?

So that's how I began downloading all the newspaper images, scrolling through them, finding BMD information and compiling an index. It was easy at first when the paper had only 4 pages and most of it was ads (which were fascinating to say the least). The part that I am currently indexing is 8 pages long, so it takes more time analyze. Plus it's hard to only look for BMD information. I want to know everything that was happening to the people who lived near my ancestors.

The project is currently 31 of 50 years complete (I use a blog to keep others posted on my progress). Not too bad for having started last February. I hope to have this project finished by the end of the summer (hopefully much sooner). I have also added an index to a Ohio county, Indiana cemetery book (because it drop me nuts trying to find my ancestors without an index) and am currently working on collecting articles found in PERSI on Ohio, Switzerland and Dearborn counties and creating an index to the names in those (I have found lots on my ancestors that was not included in surname searches in PERSI).

I hope that I have helped other researchers to find their ancestors in the Vevay newspapers and that I will continue to find projects that bring my own ancestors and the ancestors of everyone out in the open.


  1. Great project! Hats off to you. : )

  2. This is wonderful work you are doing, Tina. Indexing is very time consuming, but also badly needed. I enjoyed your post.

  3. Congrats! Indexing is so important! Keep up the good work!

  4. Nice project! I've been doing something similar. No Latvian records are indexed, so I'm doing it myself! Time consuming process for sure, but so worth it. Keep it up!

  5. Marvelous. However do you find the time, or do you spend sleepless night. My hat's off to you for such a worth while project.

  6. What a great project, and even greater initiative on your side! Thanks for the hard work that makes life for us genealogists a little easier.