Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness

One of my goals for 2007 is to perform genealogical service of a volunteer nature for others. So today I went to the website Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness intending to become one of their "people helping people." Instead, after going through the site, I became one of the people requesting help!

How did that happen?

Well, I read the "thanks" and testimonials and was mightily impressed. I found that someone did information on marriage licenses in Clay County, Missouri, and it struck me that I might be able to get past the "Sarah Gilbert" brick wall if I knew more of the info that might be on her marriage license. I know she married Ezekiel Johnson in 1867. That may be too far back to get any further information, but I suppose we'll find out. Thanks in advance to the volunteer who will get my request!

I also read the FAQs for volunteers. The first one states:

The purpose of this site is to help others obtain copies of documents, pictures of tombstones, etc., that can not be obtained easily by those who do not live in the area of their ancestors.

I was a bit concerned that my present circumstances (my work schedule combined with the fact that I no longer drive) might make it difficult for me to respond reliably to requests that might involve heading downtown from the suburban Bloggcast Center, especially during the workweek. So I was reluctant to sign up as a volunteer. But I later figured that weekend outings to local cemeteries might work, so I may yet sign up to do that. In fact, with the increasing availability of records online, photos of tombstones and the like may become one of the most useful aspects of the program.

Volunteers may charge for the cost of copies, film, postage, and videotape. They may not charge for their time. Until recently, they were not permitted to charge for mileage. But due to recent fuel price increases, RAOGK volunteers may charge 50 cents per mile "for the time being."

There are still many, many places where having a local volunteer copy a record may be the best way to get the record. So this program remains important to a lot of researchers. I'll let you know how my experiences go.


Apple said...

Even if you can't join RAOGK you can still do random acts of kindness. Watch the message boards for your area, maybe you can take a picture or locate an obit. You can also take tombstone pics and upload them to find-a-grave or various gen-web projects. Online transcribers are always needed too.

Craig Manson said...

Apple, These are good suggestions.
I can do that, and I hope everybody does at least one of these every year.

ALW said...

Bravo to ALL who share. I too have received so much help from others...all free. When I answer a request for a "Look Up" in one of my books, I try to check census records and/or militrary data I have when appropriate. Sometimes we actually hit "home runs" for folks, which are as much fun for me as for them!