The Places We Can Go

If you are new to the Ancestry World Archives Project (AWAP) or have been indexing with us for many years, you may still be unfamiliar with all of the resources at your fingertips. For instance, did you know we have Keying Standards? (Some of you are already rolling your eyes…) Also, have you watched the Getting Started Videos, read Tips for Completing an Image Set, or checked the message or discussion boards for new project information?

In this blog post I am going to draw a roadmap that I hope will assist the newbie and the veteran alike in becoming more familiar with the places we can go that can help us become more informed indexers.


  • Buried deep within the heart of the Ancestry World Archives Project wiki home page mentioned above (not too deep) is the Additional Help Articles resource. This little gem includes a great article on Tips for Reading Old Handwriting that all indexers should take a look at. Ever wonder what steps a project needs to go through before it goes live? Check that out here. Even reading about how to cancel an image set will be invaluable knowledge for the community.


  • Next is the ever present and newly improved My World Archives Project dashboard. Here you will find featured AWAP projects, Active and Completed projects, the Message Boards where you can post questions and interact with the community and the AWAP Blog. Also included on this page are your stats with how many records you have keyed in the last 90 days, your total records keyed and your accuracy.

Now that the above resources have been covered, it’s time to focus in on the nitty gritty of best practices for indexing. Everyone has their own workflow, and we don’t think one really outshines another, but there are a few things each of you can do to make sure our community is all on the same page and that we are helping one another.

  1. When you start a new project, read through the instructions. We know this can be tedious at times, but reading through them will give your brain a framework for how the projects should be indexed.
  2. After reading the instructions, head over to the discussion tab. It is the second tab found in each Wiki Instructions Article. Here you can often find Extra Keying Helps, Common Keying Errors, a Q and A section and a place to make suggestions for the project.
  3. Now that you have familiarized yourself with the project, dig in!
  4. If you have a question, post it on the discussion board or the appropriate message board found in the dashboard.
  5. It is also a good idea to check the discussion board each time you come back to key to see if there is anything new.

We are a tight knit community of dedicated genealogists. As the Ancestry World Archives Project wiki home page says, “Minutes of your time could help preserve decades.” We appreciate all of your personal minutes spent helping preserve this information for others to make discoveries in their family history.


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Reader Comments

Good one, Sean – it should be sent to all new keyers. I couldn’t find a link to the message boards on the Dashboard, and it took me a week or more to even find them when I started. I suggest picking them out for special treatment (with a direct link).

I’d also like to see some serious discussion on the following:
– Choosing a Project for keying and/or review. The default (‘Pick a Project for Me’) is brain-dead. Keyers should start with areas they know well.
– Setting up the Keying Tool particularly the column order and use of the Guide hairline.


This should be “required” reading for all new keyers. And “experienced” keyers should review it often.
I always read the keying standards before starting any new project- but I have found that when my images are first reviewed my accuracy drops dramatically, but returns to its regular accuracy after a few reviews- I wonder if the reviewers re-read the keying standards.
I would like a clearer definition of “image with no data” and “cover page”
I love keying!

Andrew, those two ideas are great. I now have them on my list for future posts. I have also added a direct link to the message boards to this post. Thanks!

Jeanne, Thank you for the feedback. We will be working on a clearer definition of those terms for sure!

I have recently posted the following on the message board to Anna but thought I’d add it here too.
“Would it be possible to delete the term “primary person” from all project instructions and field helps as I feel it causes errors.
For example, reviewing the Savannah Georgia Bonds and Licenses (but I’ve seen it in other projects too) a lot are issued in joint names so there are often 2, 3 or 4 names that need to be keyed however in many sets only the first name that appears was actually keyed. I believe this is because when people read “primary person” they interpret it to mean the first one mentioned, thereby records not being keyed.”

In discussion with the team, we have decided to keep the phrase “Primary Person” as this most often describes the person that should be keyed. That said, we will begin to add an additional instruction to projects where it appears there may be multiple people in a field such as the following: “If there are multiple primary individuals, each should be keyed on a separate record.”