Urantia Foundation’s Index of The Urantia Book

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Tamara Strumfeld

By Tamara Strumfeld, Urantia Foundation, Chicago, Illinois, United States

In the early years of the Urantia Book project, work on an index began. Many hands played a part, including Dr. William Sadler, Wilfred Kellogg, Anna Kellogg, Bill Sadler Jr., Anna Rawson, and Edith Cook. They inscribed a note on the dustcover of the first printing that “the Index of The Urantia Book is published in a separate volume. Price $8.00.” What wishful thinking! Little did they foresee the scope of such a complex project, and to date, the index has never been printed.

Not only did the book introduce a new vocabulary, but it also included concepts that the revelators themselves tell us have no true expression in the English language. Strings of words, nuances of meaning, and layers of language challenged those who attempted to index this work for many years. Ultimately the index became so complex that it was abandoned in the files of Urantia Foundation for twenty years.

On a random day in 2007, former Executive Director Jay Peregrine discovered this abandoned work on index cards in an old-fashioned filing cabinet tucked away in the corner of one of the storerooms in the basement of 533. We were all delighted with his discovery!

It was quite a job to convert the physical cards to an electronic format. Over a two-year period Nathan Bartford, a summer intern, and a temporary worker created Word documents containing the information on the cards. Once that was done, Larry Watkins of Denver, Colorado, spent months 1) converting the Word docs into HTML files, 2) writing a program that would drop the Paper:section.paragraph numbers into all the references, which contained only page numbers at that time, and 3) link the references directly to the online text of The Urantia Book.

Then the project to check the references began. MaryJo Garascia of Denver, Colorado, did the first round. She checked each reference making sure it linked to the proper place in the book, and Larry made the corrections in the HTML files. This took almost a year.

Knowing this work was too much for one pair of human eyes, we recruited almost two dozen volunteers to check the references again. Each volunteer received one letter and made sure each reference went to the correct paragraph in the book online. All errors were sent to Larry, who again made the corrections. This phase took about two years.

Words cannot express how much appreciation I have for everyone who participated in that phase of the project! Thank you!

After it was complete, I reviewed the letter A and discovered that, although the index had been elevated significantly, it was still riddled with errors and issues. If the index was ever going to be published, it still required a deep revision.

That is when Cece Forrester of Chicago, Illinois, was recruited. She is a professional editor and a long-time student of The Urantia Book. What a blessing it was to have her on the team! She worked diligently on correcting, updating, rewriting, etc. The process was as follows:

  • Cece would check a letter and note all the errors and do the rewrites.
  • I would review her edits and send them to Larry, who made the corrections.
  • Then I would review the accuracy of the corrections that Larry made.
  • Finally, Larry would again make the final set of corrections.

This process continued, round after round, for four long years. There were countless weekend hours, and many anticipated deadlines missed. Like the group in the early days, I did not foresee the scope of such a complex project.

But the finish line for the first edition of the index was finally crossed at 6:02 p.m. (CDT) this past Friday, September 29. I like to think that the members of the early group were somehow informed and were pleased by the news.

Again, I would like to thank everyone who participated in this project. And special recognition must go to Larry Watkins. All the HTML coding and programming he did was voluntary. Larry was always available, quick with his turnarounds, and never cranky with my incessant emails of never-ending corrections.

The team at Urantia Foundation is excited to make this online index available to the readership. Since it is conceptual, it will allow users to find not only words and phrases, but also ideas and concepts. In addition to online search engines, this index will be a useful study tool. Plans are also underway for an enhanced e-book. We will keep you posted.

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