INDEXING CHURCH RECORDS FOR A WHOLE PARISH
Tutorial for people who just want to index baptisms, marriages, obits
and share them as PDF Files.
Step 1 / Collecting data from records
Case N°1 : you work on your own
The indexing work you are about to do is yours only.
You are the only one in charge of indexing a whole year, a whole decade or a whole church book for a parish you have chosen. You can take notes in a dedicated notebook or use a computer text editor.
For all the different options I’m suggesting you below you will need a computer and an internet connection.
Best option: Google Docs or Google Spreadsheets
Take time to make your own template to type infos you extract from records more quickly.
The big plus is that you can do this work from any chromebook, laptop or desktop computer and that it is saved automatically as long as you use the Google Chrome browser on any computer you use.
You can even share this work with other people and you can all edit the same doc.
This is a Google Doc sample I use to collect my data for each year I index: one different worksheet for one year with the right title like this one here for a baptism worksheet : Castelo Branco, batismos,1805 in the Azores.
▪I like to use this template to collect baptisms for Portugal:
n for nasceu (born)
b for batizado /a (baptised)
P for pai (father’s name)
M for mãe (mother’s name)
pad for padrinhos (godparents)
You can also add the image number but don’t forget to mention the main source like here the online baptism book extracted from CCA website like here CCA, Castelo Branco, Batismos 1804-1817
▪If I collect baptisms for Spain, I’d rather use this template :
n for nascido /a (born)
b for bautizado /a (baptized)
P for padre (father’s name : first name and (double) surname)
M for madre (mother’s name : first name and (double) surname)
pad for padrinos (godparents)
▪If I collect baptisms for France or another French-speaking country,
I’d rather use this template :
n for né(e) le ... (born)
b for batisé(e) le … (baptized)
P for père (father’s name /prénom et nom du père de l’enfant)
M for mère (mother’s name /prénom et nom de la mère de l’enfant)
parrain : for godfather’s name
marraine : for godmother’s name
In a Google or Excel spreadsheet the information is organized in columns.
Before adding information you should edit your own column template and give a title to each column at the top like :
-one column for the name of the parish,
-another column for the name of the island,
-others for the image number, the child’s first name, the child’s date of birth, the child’s date of baptism, the child’s father’s name and so on …
Yes, I know the Google spreadsheet above is not correctly edited and just has capital letters A, B, C ... But this one was exported as a spreadsheet by a computer program called Nimègue.
It is a computer program French genealogists often use to index whole parishes.
Nimègue just like GenScriber can export your worksheets as Excel worksheets or PDF files and this way you can share your work with other people or in genealogy dedicated groups.
Of course you can use other text editors such as Microsoft Word or LibreOffice Writer if you just want to keep your data stored on your computer and don’t want to use a cloud service. But don’t forget to regularly save your work and have another copy on a hard drive.
Whether you choose to use a simple text editor like Google Doc, Word or Writer or whether you prefer using spreadsheets I suggest you (for the comfort of your eyes) to have a large computer screen (split in two areas) or two different screens :
-screen 1 : for the online records display, to zoom in and out on the record pages.
-screen 2 : used to collect the data in your text editor.
Second best option : GenScriber, Ancestral Sources, Transcript or Nimègue
Maybe you just have one computer screen and prefer to work in the same space on the same page with the record page on the top and the worksheet below.
There is a very good computer program for you called …
This computer program is free to download and can be used in English or in French.
You just have to download the version of your choice.
It runs on Windows, MacOs and Linux.
So give it a try ! And start collecting data with it .
GenScriber already has many templates for different types of records census/baptisms/marriages... but you can also edit your own just like the one I prefer using below for Azorean church baptism records.
I shouldn’t forget to tell you that you will have to download the whole church book and save it on your computer first to be able to see each record page in the top window, zoom in, zoom out and change the display like color and light settings.
Here is a screenshot of one enlarged zone of the worksheet.
You can edit it in any language you like and you can later export this same worksheet as a PDF file in which there will be no hidden zones (take a look at the PDF file sample below).