Guidelines for Labeling / Indexing Volunteers

We are conducting early testing for a program which enables users to help index map content here at It is an exciting way that you can help enhance research results for both current and future generations of genealogists and historians. And for making such a contribution, your efforts may be rewarded with significant credits to be applied toward your account (more on this below).

If you are a paid subscriber who's interested in trying your hand with labeling (indexing), then follow these three simple steps:
1. Read the rest of this article.
2. Watch this introductory video for the Antique Maps Project.
3. Watch this video where Greg Boyd demonstrates how to label our maps.

After completing these steps, just email us at and tell us you'd like to get started labeling. We should reply within a business day informing you of your ability to start labeling.

Labeling is like indexing, only you are doing more than just typing in a name. You are typing in a name on an exact spot on a historical map where the name appears. And you are approving the sorted name that will be used in indexing (last-name/first-name). That may sound difficult, but as you'll see, it is not.

Specifically, labeling is as simple as:

  • choosing a map that needs labeling (we list a few below, but feel free to ask us for suggestions at,
  • clicking on the 'pencil' (editing) icon among the left-hand tool buttons in the Antique Maps Viewer,
  • finding a person's name on the chosen map that's not already been labeled (no green or light-blue dot over the name), and single-clicking on it,
  • typing in the name that you see in the pop-up tool,
  • approving the suggested sorted value (we attempt to modify from first-name/last-name to last-name/first-name for you, but if our suggestion is wrong or can be improved, you have the ability to do so).
    and . . . THAT's IT! We do the rest.

Symbols to Remember:
The following 3 symbols/icons were mentioned above, and there explanations will mean more to you after you've watched the video mentioned at the top of the page, but just as a matter of reference, we wanted to point out these three important symbols:

   Along the bottom, left-hand side of the Antique Maps Viewer, you will find the editing/labeling button. Clicking this button will toggle (turn on and off) editing/labeling capabilities. If this button is grayed out then either you have not yet been approved as a volunteer labeler OR someone else has edited the map you are viewing within the last 24 hours and it remains reserved for their or an administrator's use.

   If a point on a map has already been clicked and a label applied AND a administrator has committed a volunteers' work to our permanent database, then the volunteer's efforts will be designated with this pale blue symbol. We call this a "finalized" label. It cannot be edited or moved without administrator intervention.

   The instant that a volunteer adds a name to a map, their work is marked by this symbol. While the marker is still green, a volunteer can still edit the label, correcting either its position on the map or the to fix spelling, etc.


While our system allows for labeling lots of kinds of features, right now we ask that you only label landowners, or at least only persons whose names are within our Antique Maps Collection. Later on, we will ask our volunteers to help label businesses, churches, communities, cemeteries, and lots of other features, but for now, we want to focus on people.

Also, do not label items that are purely represented by initials ("G.B, "G.A.B.", "Mrs & Mrs C.H.", etc.).


Some maps are rife with abbreviations for given-names. We request that you type exactly what you see. If you are absolutely CERTAIN that an abbreviation stands for one and only one possible given-name, then we'll allow you to expand on the abbreviation (email us at if you have questions about others). Here are some known, unambiguous abbreviations that you can expand upon . . .

If you see . . . You can enter . . .
Benj   =   Benjamin
Chas   =   Charles
Fred'k   =   Frederick
Geo   =   George
Jas   =   James
Jos   =   Joseph
Pat'k   =   Patrick
Rich'd   =   Richard
Sam'l   =   Samuel
Thos   =   Thomas
Wm   =   William

The jury is till out on this one . . .
Jno   =   John or Jonathan. We recommend just entering Jno. for now. We can always choose to later modify to John and/or Jonathan in finding aids.

There are many other abbreviations that can be unambiguously expanded upon. We'll add them as they come to our attention and feel free to alert us to ones that you come across (email us at


Occasionally, you'll run across names on maps that have more than just a name. They've got other words appended to either the front or back-end.
      John Smith, Jr.
      John Smith and sons
      John Smith, Esquire
      John Smith Est. (estate)
      Est. John Smith (estate)

In each of these cases, enter what you see in the first instance, and then in the sorted value (2nd value), apply this rule: start with a surname, followed by the given names, and then enter the additional information whether or not it is displayed in the map before or after the name itself. In cases that are not typical name suffixes (Jr., Sr.), feel free to enclose in square brackets like so "[ ]".

So, the above examples, would be properly sorted like so:
      John Smith, Jr. = Smith, John Jr.
      John Smith and sons = Smith, John [and sons]
      John Smith, Esquire = Smith, John [Equire]
      John Smith Est. (estate) = Smith, John [Estate]
      Est. John Smith (estate) = Smith, John [Estate]


We're still working on how to address this, but in the meanwhile, we ask that you enter what you see and if you are unsure, then enter your best guess. If you are not fairly certain of the accuracy of your entry, then simply add a '#' (the "pound" sign or hash-tag symbol) anywhere in the entry.

You have 256 characters for both the original entry and the sorted (2nd entry), so you could even explain with an entry like: "Rudebaugh, James or Rulebaugh, James#". JUST MAKE SURE THAT POUND-SIGN GETS IN THERE or our labeling engine will try to process your complete entry.

This issue raises the similar case where you KNOW the cartographer misspelled a name. There are some maps where we think as many as 10 to 20% of the names may be misspelled. While we will work on a way to manage alternate spellings, for now, continue to enter what you see. We'll create a tool at a later time where labelers can enter likely or alternate spellings.

Recommended for Labeling - Right Now!

There are thousands of maps to choose from, but below are some exemplary ones (the links won't work unless you are logged into your account). If the maps below are taken (the pencil/editing/labeling icon at the left side of the Antique Maps Viewer can't be enabled), then either try back the next day or better yet, just ask us for suggestions at We've got plenty, with more going on-line all the time.

Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Landowners, 1851. Includes Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. Only a few test labels have been entered.

York County, Maine, 1856. Only a few test labels have been entered.

Durham County, North Carolina, 1887. Only a few test labels have been entered.

Richland Township, Tama County, Iowa, and many others in Tama County.

Johnson County, Kansas Landowners, 1886 (complete county in a single map).

Any number of Cherokee Allotment Maps (230 maps among 13 counties in present-day Oklahoma). For instance, Township 21-N, Range 13-E, or Township 21-N, Range 13-E, or take a look at the Cherokee Allotment Index Map to quickly choose among townships

Note: Many new maps have been added in the last few weeks covering mostly the mid-Atlantic and northeastern United States but with some in the midwest and mid-south.


We are in the process of finalizing the program so that you can earn subscription credits by labeling. We know your time is valuable and we wish we could pay big bucks for these indexing duties, but that's simply not possible. What we can do is say an ongoing THANK-YOU by allowing you to build up credits good toward paying your subscription bill in the future. It is anticipated that you will be able to accumulate credits that amount to .005 (half a penny) per finalized, good and proper landowner label. Your efforts before we finalize the program will all be eligible for the program, so get started now.

Details will be forthcoming soon.

Not to be a downer, but here's a short list of CAVEATS AND WARNINGS, for those who mean us harm or who may not be well-suited toward this sort of effort . . .

Participation in this volunteer program can be terminated by either party at any moment, with or without notice.

Any labels that require an edit or correction on our part may or may not earn credit, in our sole judgment. Anyone, who in our judgment creates more work for our administrators than we deem desirable (caused by either a high degree of errors, malicious behavior, failure to follow guidelines, or otherwise), may have their labeling privileges suspended temporarily or terminated permanently at any time. If we deem a user's conduct to be malicious, said user's credits may also be forfeited in part or in total.

To the degree that the law allows, there is NO cash value for labeling efforts. If such a value is required by law, then the cash value for labeling credits is $.01 per 1,000,000 administratively approved labels (which can be re-evaluated after the fact; an in cases where hacking or malicious conduct are suspected) and no value for non-approved or later-disapproved labels. In other words, do not engage in labeling unless you wish to do so to enhance the experience of our historical/genealogical research community or to supplement your access privileges or both.

Now that the "bad guys" have been addressed, we are so excited about this new program whose first participants are doing a BANG-UP job, and hope many of our friends and supporters will help both and its growing community of researchers with this one-of-a-kind effort. Many Thanks!