Robokeying.. Saving Genealogy or Destroying it?

Robokeying.. Saving Genealogy or Destroying it?

What Is Robokeying?

Robokeying is automation software which is being used by FamilySearch and others to index microfilm. Back in the ancient day (sorry I had to jab at you old fogies) genealogical records were kept on Microfilm.
You had to go to a place such as an LDS Family History Center or library to have access to these microfilms. With the advent of the internet the distance you had to travel to get to genealogical records shortened to their homes.

Enter Robokeying

To get those records onto the internet people had to read each page, page by page and record the information into an online form. Many of you saw me write about the Freedmen’s Bureau project I had the honor of helping index for. We manually looked at each record and entered details into the computer, then someone else reviewed our work.
Even though we got the record indexed in record time, it was very labor intensive and we had to have an army of people entering details and reviewing details. With robokeying technology, this will make the human part less strenuous.

How does it work?

Robokeying works by having very advanced computer software scan a microfilmed document. This computer enters the information into a database. That was the most labor intensive part for humans was the data entry, but now that can be done via computer and all we need to do is verify that the computer got it correct. Why do we do that? Because technology is not perfect!

Some Voices against Robokeying…

Some people do not like the idea of Robokeying. They feel that this process will cause more errors than good. I actually love the idea of Robokeying and I think it’s main opponents do not understand technology that much. Face it most genealogists are in senior years.
A lack of understanding of technology has led me to believe that’s why there are opponents to robokeying. I think the key to understand is that it will require a human to verify the work and correct the occasional mistakes made by the computer.

Just Imagine

Just imagine it, the same army we had for the freedmen’s project not having to do the data entry but merely the verifications. We could process more records in record time. Being able to focus human resources makes recording genealogy easier.
If you go to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint’s granite vaults where they keep records they purchased you will see there is much still to be cataloged. As a matter of fact, even if you sign up for the indexing program with the church you can see there are many records that need to be indexed. Imagine if we had computers doing it at breakneck speeds and we just verifying? Wouldn’t that make Genealogy easier?

In Conclusion

I have my own opinions on how I think this could be great for the industry. What are your thoughts? Do you know anything about the specific software people like FamilySearch and Ancestry are using? I would love to hear from you and learn more about this topic. Please email me at and tell me your thoughts and what you know! Maybe we can arrange a door prize for your knowledge. This is Kenny Green the genealogy gangster signing off!

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