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Aug 27, 2019

Restore the Ancestors Project – How to Index Charleston, SC Birth Registers

Restore the Ancestors Project Profile Photo

Today we are launching our second record set for the Restore the Ancestors Project! Many thanks to all of the dedicated volunteers who indexed our first project, Colleton County, SC Early Marriage Records. Those records are now in post indexing processing and will be available soon on FamilySearch.

Our newest record set, “US, South Carolina, Charleston—Birth Registers, 1901–1926 [Part A]” is very information-rich. The birth registers record the baby’s name, place of birth, midwife or doctor who delivered the baby, the father’s name, the mother’s maiden name, the birthplace of both parents and the father’s occupation. These records will be invaluable for those researching ancestors born in the city of Charleston, and you can help us make this a free, searchable collection on FamilySearch!

Information for New Volunteers

If you are new to the Restore the Ancestors Project, please start with our previous post Announcing the Restore the Ancestors 2019 Project: Help Us Index Records for African American Genealogy, where you will find step by step instructions for getting started with the Restore the Ancestors Project and indexing records on FamilySearch. Then you can come back to this post to see indexing instructions that are unique to this new record set. Thank you and welcome!

Information for Returning Volunteers

If you were with us for our previous record set, thank you and welcome back! Please review the project instructions before beginning this new record set, as some of the general guidelines are unique to this record set.

There are two places where you can access project instructions and tips. The first is at the bottom of the left sidebar, and the second is in the top right corner of the indexing screen.

Indexing Example

Information for All Volunteers: Indexing Charleston Birth Registers

In this record set, a batch is one page of the register.

Indexing Example

Each of the entries in the birth registers spans 2 pages of the register. FamilySearch has a ruler tool to help you stay on the same line as you advance to the fields on the right side of the image.

To show the ruler, click on “Data Entry” in the top toolbar. A dropdown menu will appear. Click on “Show Ruler” and the ruler will appear on the page.

Indexing Example
Indexing Example


Remember that as we click on an entry field, the purple question mark icon appears for that field. If you click on the purple icon, the instructions for indexing that field will appear. Please read the help screen for each field when you index the first few entries in the batch, to familiarize yourself with the guidelines for each field of this new record set.

Let’s look at some of the fields that are unique to this record set:

Indexing Names

In some of the entries, only the baby’s surname was recorded, without a given name. If only the baby’s surname is listed, you can press Control B to mark the given name field BLANK.

In the majority of the entries in this register, the father’s surname is not expressly stated. The instructions tell us not to assume a person’s surname from the other surnames in the record. When the father’s surname is not listed, press Control B to mark the field BLANK. (No worries, in post indexing production, FamilySearch’s algorithm will insert the baby’s surname as the father’s surname.)

This register records the mother’s maiden name. The mother’s given name is listed, then below we see the word “Nee” before the maiden name. (The word “Nee” is a designation for a maiden name and is not a part of the mother’s name.) There is no need to type the word “Nee” in the indexing field. Here, we will index the mother’s name as Alice Floyd.

Because the instructions tell us not to assume a person’s surname from the other surnames in the record, we will not add the father’s surname after the mother’s maiden name. We will type only the maiden name.

Indexing the Race Field

The race field has a dropdown box where we will select White or Colored. Note that the race is recorded at the top of the register page.

Indexing Place Names

For place names, the instructions tell us not to expand abbreviations or correct misspellings, so we will type exactly what was written. In the example below, even though we know that the word “Co.” is an abbreviation for County, we have typed the information exactly as it was written. Likewise, if we see the notation “Chas, S.C.,” we would type Chas, S.C. Just type what you see.

Indexing Example

The one exception to this guideline for entering the place is if the birthplace of the mother or father is listed as “City” or some form of that word. In these cases, we will type the place name “Charleston, South Carolina.” (You may find it helpful to keep “Charleston, South Carolina” on your clipboard so you can paste that into the birthplace field if the register says “City.”)

Indexing Example

Delete Remaining Blank Entries

The indexing sidebar provides you with 25 blank entries. If there are more than 25 entries on the page, you can select to add another entry. If there are fewer than 25 entries on a page, you can delete the remaining blank entries you have not used.

To delete the entries you have not used, select the first blank entry. This page had 17 entries, so we have advanced to entry 18, which is blank. Click the trash can icon in the toolbar at the top of the screen.

Indexing Example

A popup window will appear, asking if you want to delete the current entry or all blank entries. Choose to delete all blank entries.

Indexing Example

If a page has more than 25 entries, you can add extra entries from the bottom of the left sidebar.

Once you have deleted the blank entries you did not use, you are ready to submit the batch!

Help With Questions

Remember that we are always available in the Restore The Ancestors 2019 Facebook group, to answer any questions that arise as you begin indexing this next record set.

Thank you for joining (or rejoining) us in making this information-rich record set available as a free, searchable collection on FamilySearch!