26 August 2011

The Ontario Name Index (TONI)

Indexes, particularly name indexes, are the most valuable thing a genealogical society can produce. When I started working on my family tree in the mid 80s, The Ontario Genealogical Society's (OGS) Cemetery Project had been going for some time and there were numerous cemetery transcriptions available from the Branches. As I could not afford to buy every likely resting place of my ancestors, I would spend time at each conference browsing the various transcriptions looking for likely family members. No, I didn't stand at the table writing down the information; I bought what I could afford. But I also thought that it would have been much easier with a central index to all the transcriptions, so I could figure out which to buy. Eventually the Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid (OCFA) started to do that, followed later by the OGS Ontario Cemetery Ancestor Index (OCAI). The Ontario Name Index (TONI) will provide the same facility but on a larger scale.

TONI was begun by OGS in 2010, as one of the 50th anniversary projects. At the Annual General Meeting at Conference 2011 in Hamilton, TONI was officially launched on the OGS website (http://www.ogs.on.ca/home/TONI.php). Earlier this month, TONI reached 177,948 entries.

TONI provides a single index of Ontario names, indicating where information about that person can be found. It is not limited to cemetery transcriptions but will include anything that includes an Ontario name. TONI will aim researchers in the right direction to locate information about their person of interest in Ontario.  The location may be a Branch document, a web site, a microfilm, a family history, an archive, etc.  The index is available on the public part of the OGS website so that anyone can access it. TONI should make OGS and Branch resources more visible.

What do we want to include in TONI? Any source that contains a name in Ontario.

TONI includes:

o       converting and importing existing electronic indices at Branch and Society level, i.e. Ontario Cemetery Ancestor Index or Ottawa Branch Name Index (http://ogsottawa.on.ca/nameindex/index.php);
o       digitizing  and importing existing hard copy indices;
o       indexing existing electronic and hard-copy documents and importing them, including family histories, Tweedsmuir histories, items in the e-library, etc. Branch publications such as cemeteries, census, newspapers and other transcriptions; and
o       indexes to digitized documents produced for other organizations as part of the scanning project could be included with permission of the owner.

The information already in the Ontario Cemetery Ancestor Index is being moved into TONI by the Provincial Office, cemetery by cemetery. The names in the Ontario Genealogical Society Provincial Index (OGSPI) will also be included in TONI, which will refer a researcher to OGSPI and then back to the original source.

All Branches and SIGS have been requested to appoint a Branch TONI coordinator to liaise with the Provincial Coordinator. The Branch coordinator will seek and assist volunteers to input data into files that will be loaded into TONI. These coordinators will have copies of the TONI Indexing Instructions that provide the information needed by volunteers to begin working. Branch/SIG Coordinators have the following roles in the project:

1.      encouraging and assisting volunteers to index the Branch holdings, both hard copy and electronic; 
2.      assigning the file names for TONI that the volunteers will use; and
3.      ensuring that the files are completed as per the instructions.

If you would like to participate in TONI, contact your local TONI Coordinator or the Provincial Coordinator at director08@ogs.on.ca

TONI is an indexing program and NOT a digitization program. TONI will comply with any OGS Privacy Policy. TONI will not intentionally include information on living individuals and will focus on those with birth dates earlier than one hundred years ago or deaths earlier than 50 years ago.

Any questions can be directed to me at director08@ogs.on.ca

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