New Volunteer Indexing Program at Ancestry announced an exciting future initiative today.  In the next coming months they will be adding a Volunteer Indexing Program (VIP) to their selection of features on the site.  This program will allow you to participate in transcribing selected portions of new record collections.  The information that is transcribed creates an index of the collection that is searchable, thus allowing you to search for information about your ancestors. If you are interested in joining our community of volunteer indexers click here to sign up to receive future communications about the program.

Update: I checked with the folks in the home office and yes, the indexes created through our new volunteer indexing program will be available free for everyone. More information is available on the sign up page.

31 July 2008 Update: This project has moved into private beta testing per the Ancestry blog. Stay tuned to the Ancestry Weekly Journal and this blog to learn when the beta testing goes public.


24 thoughts on “New Volunteer Indexing Program at Ancestry

  1. I participate in a similar program through, but they pledge to make their indexed records available for free. Giving back to the genealogy community in this way is personally rewarding, but I wonder if you’re planning to offer a discount or other benefits to volunteers who index a certain number of records?

  2. Same thoughts as Christine. I’ve indexed over 45,000 records through FamilySearch and happy to do it to make the info freely available.

    I currently pay to use Ancestry, but would hesitate to volunteer my time ‘free’ and then get charged to use the results.

  3. I have the same reservations, but more so. I agree with Marilyn and Christine that it wouldn’t be fair to charge the VOLUNTEERS to use their results. But is it fair, in general, for to recruit free labor and then collect subscription fees from USERS? Those of us who volunteer for RAOGK, rootsweb,, usgenweb and the various lookup services don’t expect users to be charged for what we do. I hope is planning to use this volunteer network only for records they intend to make freely available.

  4. I agree with the three previous posters. I have volunteered my time to my state archives who makes many records available free to the public and I enjoy doing it to help others. I would hope Ancestry would offer the volunteers some kind of discount or other incentive.

  5. Ditto with the 4 previous postings. I have volunteered over 140 hrs to my state archives who makes many records available free to the public and I enjoy doing it to help others. (Which mirrors “Danettes” comments)
    I would hope Ancestry would offer the volunteers some kind of discount or incentive.
    I enjoy volunteering to index, however as “Marilyn” stated above – why would I voulnteer my free time only to pay to view my own records?

  6. I’d agree with the above comments. I don’t mind helping transcribe, and enjoy it, and currently do so with . But I would hope there would be either some type of bone thrown to the transcribers such as discounted subscription rates, early access to the unindexed records (the entire thing versus the page your indexing), etc.; or alternately that the transcribed records are given free access to patrons. If I’m just doing it to help ancestry’s bottom line and get no reward, I’ll just continue to spend my transcribing time at the not-for-profit .

  7. I agree with all the posters. I just hope that the PTB at Ancestry actually read these comments. Has anyone ever seen or gotten a response?

  8. “Update: I checked with the folks in the home office and yes, the indexes created through our new volunteer indexing program will be available free for everyone. More information is available on the sign up page.”

    I think you missed the point. It is not merely the indexes that should be free but the actual images of the records indexed under the VIP program that should also be free- no Ancestry membership needed to view the actual records.

    As soon as I see that in writing from Mr. Tim Sullivan then I’m sure that there will be no lack of volunteers.

    I’ll certainly sign up just as soon as I get his memo.

  9. Isn’t it sad that we’ve – by experience, become so cynical. I agree with the above Posters…I think many of us would love to help further genealogy research – but as volunteers for each other. NOT for a “for profit” company that seems to be becoming increasingly “for a fee” orenented.

  10. I agree with Andrew. The actual images, not just the index, should be made availabe to everyone without cost. I currently transcribe for Family Search and enjoy it very much, but wouldn’t do it for Ancestry if they plan to charge for the results.

  11. In the matter of transcribing records, I find it frustrating that transcribed records on contain an error rate of approximately 20%. The lack of a good quality control program is criminal. Further, the failure to correct unquestionable errors is beyond criminal. It appears that our annual fees are all that is wanted, not an improved database since errors pointed out are not corrected! I find I am less and less wanting to submit information on errors because fails to correct the searchable database and lets errors go uncorrected after they are brought to the attention of

  12. I tell ancestry about their errors almost every day. When they update their records my correction is always searchable. I will give them credit for that!

  13. I note in the invitation to volunteer that it is clearly stated that the INDEXES will be available free to all. But what everyone wants and needs is the images behind the indexes for which I am certain Ancestry will charge. Help Ancestry get the index up and running faster so that it can charge us sooner!

  14. While I think the idea of free access to the images is wonderful I personally would be willing to work on the project simply to correct some of the very obvious and annoying errors in the current indexes. I have seen many perfectly clear and easy to read census images indexed so badly it makes me wonder if the person doing the transcribing even knows very basic English!

    Apparently KNOWS the situation is very discouraging for us and is addressing it. Bravo to that!!

    Now if only the annual fees were a bit more reasonable for us old retired people who are really hurting. I am forced to pay monthly and even that often makes me feel that I should simply cancel my subscription just to pay bills. I’m here almost every day. I’ve been a faithful subscriber for many years and it breaks my heart to think of losing the one site that means the most to me. Genealogy is “what I do”!

  15. about annual fees for pensioners
    I have changed my ISP and dropped cable TV to economise

    But it is still cheaper to use ancestry than travel to London or New York and more convenient than ancestrylibrary edition

    Books are just as entertaining as TV
    and is quicker than newspapers or TV

  16. I have no problem with volunteering and also paying my membership fees. As a person with limited travel, my access to records through is close to priceless. I thank all the people before me who did the indexing and look forward to contributing to the next generation of family history lovers. Just think of all the people who will be linked with this effort!

    Rita Brown

  17. Major interest is in The Samborne/Sanborn family and the Andrew Jackson Junior undocumented daughters, ,E.g. Laura Ann Jackson who married Augustus Lane Sanborn in Nashville, Tenn prior to March 18, 1866.

    All responses shall be responded to. I will pay for documents.

    All the best,
    Duane Byron Carlson
    651 636 1603

  18. Indexing for free – that is to be free to the public sounds great BUT …..
    I am guessing that future researchers will search for an ancestor to find that has a record with that name but must join. Thus business like always for
    Nothing for the ones actually doing the work.
    O, Ancestry says the indexers will be first to see the results. I already have a membership to so what is the benfit for me.
    I would do some for a 2 year free membership. But for free so Ancestry can still charge me membership NO.
    I only have so much time and indexing would take time I could use that I paid for access.

  19. I feel the same as all the others. Ancestry charges quite a bit every year and will they give a better price to all the volunteers they have? I also belong to NEHGS in Boston, MA and do indexing for them every year but their price is less then a third of what I have to pay ancestry. Yes, they have the cost of filming, but so do all the others! So why the big fee for using it when you have all those volunteers working for free!! Where would be without all those unpaid volunteers??

  20. Why not help your local library, instead of Ancestry? Ask the librarian in charge of the genealogy collection if there is a book, such as minutes of city council meetings or county officials’ meetings, which would be improved by an index. Such minutes might be on microfilm, instead, and you could index that.

  21. I have been a volunteer in the New York City records project of the Italian Genealogical Group ( Since there are literally millions of records to transcribe, they are still seeking volunteers (and contributions).
    Here’s the notice:
    Volunteers Needed
    If you would like to help us create these databases, all you need is a spreadsheet program such as Excel or Microsoft Works.

    You can even use a word processor program. It is very simple.

    All you have to do is type a name, date and certificate number.

    We mail you the material and you work at home.

    We have all used indexes that other people created and now you can help create some indexes that will help other genealogists for many years to come.

    If you can give a little back to genealogy, contact
    John Martino
    Project Coordinator
    49 Brookhill Lane
    Huntington NY 11743

    I find the site VERY valuable and worth supporting.
    hank levine
    boynton beach fl

  22. I volunteered to record the 1910 Federal Census for Mayes County, Oklahoma. It was a learning experience I will always remember. Reading the hand writing was like working a puzzle, but now when I search for my own ancestors I find it so much easier. If you are interested in genealogy this is what it is all about. Helping us all.

  23. The new , improved 1900 U.S.census is a BIG JOKE was more poorly transcribed than the old one. If a person was born in INDIAN TERRITORY, some MORON transcriber has them born in INDIANA,so to the volunteerers that did the 1900 U.S. census If you can not cook get OUT of the kitchen, and to the persons incharge of this project are the BIGGEST MONONS to let some thing like this go by unchecked, they have NO PRIDE in what they are doing. If I were the person incharged of Ancestry I would Fire all of them!

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