Catching the Vision of Indexing to Redeem the Dead

family indexing

One of the New Testament final incidents in the ministry of the Savior referred to in the Come, Follow Me resources for June 17-23, was when one of the thieves who was crucified with Jesus, pled, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom” (Luke 23:42). Jesus responded, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the use of the word paradise in this verse “is a mistranslation; the Lord actually said that the thief would be with Him in the world of spirits” (True to the Faith, 111). It would be in the spirit world that the thief would be taught the gospel of Jesus Christ.

the Cross

Christ Organizes Work for the Dead

It was later revealed to President Joseph F.Smith how Jesus Christ initiated this gospel preaching to the dead, after His death, but prior to His resurrection:

“I perceived that the Lord went not in person among the wicked and the disobedient who had rejected the truth, to teach them; But behold, from among the righteous, he organized his forces and appointed messengers, clothed with power and authority, and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead” (Doctrine and Covenants 138:29-30).

On April 3, 1836, the prophet Elijah appeared in the Kirtland, Ohio Temple to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and restored into their hands the priesthood keys: “To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to their fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse” (Doctrine and Covenants 110:15). Thus, began one of the great missions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—redeeming the dead by performing sacred ordinances for them in Houses of the Lord.


As President Russell M. Nelson recently declared: “Our message to the world is simple and sincere: we invite all of God’s children on both sides of the veil to come unto their Savior, receive the blessings of the holy temple, have enduring joy, and qualify for eternal life” (“Let Us All Press On,” Ensign, May 2018).

Indexing Helps Us Connect with the Past and Each Other

One way to participate in family history and temple work is through the Church’s Web Indexing program. Through indexing, members are able to contribute to the vast records collection of FamilySearch. What follows is a description of how to host indexing activities or events.

Imagine yourself living 200 years ago. What would you do for fun? What would you do for work? What would your friends be like? When you view historical records, the names, handwriting, and dates can set you mind imagining what it would be like to live in 1778 or 1801—in the French countryside, or the city of London.

By simply typing what you see on a historical record, you are indexing and making records searchable so others can discover their relatives and take their names to the temple. Each name you transcribe is someone’s ancestor. Family members living today can then find each indexed name.

How Can Youth Become Involved?

You can host your own indexing activity to get the youth excited about family history. Here are a few tips to get started:

  1. Seek priesthood support—indexing events are more successful when they have the support from priesthood leaders.

  2. Setting challenging, attainable goals—will help stretch, inspire, and motivate your group.

  3. Time-bound—Volunteers are more likely to participate if the indexing event has a distinct beginning and end. Some people may feel like they should get involved in family history but don’t know where to start. This may be just the thing to get them involved.

  4. Participation first—Focus on participation first and productivity second and a natural increase in the number of records indexed will naturally follow.

  5. Celebrate—Maintain enthusiasm by acknowledging and celebrating accomplishments. You could throw a little party for those who participated, providing rewards, or whatever may be best for those in your area.

  6. Temple challenge—Place equal emphasis on indexing and submitting names to the temple. Once your group helps others find their ancestors through indexing, help them find their own family names to take to the temple.

Youth at Temple

Blessings from Indexing

Not only does indexing help others find their ancestors, but it brings many other blessings as well, such as the youth are:

  1. Involved in fun, wholesome, and uplifting activities while serving others. 
  2. Participate in family history creates unity among their families, wards, and stake.
  3. Feel their Heavenly Father’s love and their testimony of the plan of salvation was strengthened.
  4. Prepared to serve a mission.

Tips for Hosting Your Own Indexing Activity

  1. Introduction on the background and purpose of indexing. This could include showing the Indexing is Vital video (download here), excerpt of Elder Bednar’s promise to the youth (found here), or another apostolic video (found here).
  2. Experienced indexers (one for every two or three youth attending). It is essential to have people in the room who are able to help the youth along the way as they learn the basics of indexing. The youth seem to learn best by jumping in and learning as they go, but need to be able to ask questions as well.
  3. Computers (one for every two or three youth attending). You can group the youth and have them work together if there are not enough computers for each person.
Indexing Event

4.Computer Preparation:

  • Have the indexing page pulled up on each computer

  • It is highly recommended that each computer also has a batch or two already loaded (try to find batches in the beginning or intermediate levels)

  • Both these actions will decrease the need for more internet bandwidth, which will make the full experience more positive

5. Reference the Youth Activities page for more information on an indexing activity.