Volunteer Rewards


I am grateful for many things. In the genealogical research sector of my life, I am especially grateful to be the the recipient of so much wonderful (and much of it FREE) on-line research material! After only availing myself of all of that information for a long while, I began to feel the need to give back to the entities that had given me so much. I have scratched that itch in the past and tried a few different projects, all different, and all quite satisfying.

Now that we are staying home more than ever, I have had more time to think about where I would like to contribute my time and talent. Since I can’t currently visit my favorite physical archives right now, maybe I can assist in beefing up some digital ones that would make an impact for myself, my society and my fellow genealogists, after all, what I contributed before was all pre-COVID19. It’s time for me to get going again.

Part of SKCGS’s Mission Statement states that we should be “Locating, preserving, and indexing public and private genealogical records and making such records available to members and the general public.” I think that’s a fine idea and I would like to encourage you to help if you are so inclined.

The following repositories are making it easy for us to assist. Read on to find out about some of the interesting opportunities that await…

First, I had no idea that Ancestry.com had indexing opportunities! It turns out that The Ancestry World Archives Project website brings free historical record collections to the public. New projects are posted regularly and you can learn more about them on Facebook and Twitter. They appear to change all the time and have had a variety of projects in the past. If you enjoy being able to access free records from Ancestry.com, this may appeal to you. Join The Cause!

I recently learned about this project, thanks to Valorie Zimmerman: Memorializing the victims of Nazi persecution is bringing together thousands of volunteers from across the globe who are locked down during the international coronavirus crisis. The “Every Name Counts” project, based out of Germany’s Arolsen Archives website, (don’t worry - there is a page in English), aims to make 26 million recently digitized primary historical records searchable. Click HERE to learn more.

Add caption

Volunteering for the betterment of the genealogical community does not have to involve hours of sitting in front of a computer! If you like to get out and about, BillionGraves has opportunities for you to take photos and transcribe headstones for various cemeteries around the world (or even nearby). You can fulfill requests for headstone photo requests and post them to the site. There are even training videos to help you get started. There is also an App for iPhone/iPad or Android that makes it so that you can upload photos right from the cemetery! They also provide suggestions for service projects and events. All gravestones are marked with a GPS location, which might make you geek out about this one. This is a great way to help add information to FamilySearch accounts as well, as the two companies are linking records now. This site requires you to sign up for a free account. For more information, click https://billiongraves.com.

They give us so much for free, why not give back? The FamilySearch website always has a plethora of indexing projects in its pipeline. No matter what part of the world you are interested in, there is a good chance that they will have something that might interest you enough to try indexing. Of over 100 projects going at this time, the newest ones added are for Iceland, Belgium, Italy, the Czech Republic, and Denmark. There are also plenty from the US, including Arizona, California, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Washington! Other projects available include military records, BLM Tract Books, and City and Business Directories. Click HERE to learn more or get started. You will need to sign up for a free account.


www.Findagrave.com – one of my favorites! Much like BillionGraves, at the Find A Grave website there are opportunities to upload and transcribe headstone photos, and upload spreadsheets of your favorite cemeteries. Everyone works together to create a virtual cemetery, and this was happening long before our quarantine began. I have built many memorials and have been pleasantly surprised when my requests were fulfilled, sometimes on the same day! Wonderful volunteers have gone out of their way to fill my requests, even working with cemetery offices when official records do not match physical locations. I have found not only photos of headstones, but actual photos of the subject, obituaries and connected records that enabled me to find more members of their family. I also love to work on my own family, making sure spouses and children are connected, and uploading photos and obituaries (always sourced!) that might help someone else out. This site also has an App for iPhone/iPad or Android. Since Find A Grave is owned by Ancestry, you are helping to create hints there, as well.

Who knew there were Citizen Archivists? Here is how you can contribute to the National Archives (NARA) and you don’t have to go to the other Washington to do it (although going there is a great experience)! Anyway, like many sites, you need to create a free account and log in, but if you do, you will have many opportunities to tag and transcribe records. The records or “missions” that they currently have available are varied and interesting. These include will transcriptions, records relating to submarines, African American history, TVA Removal and Population Readjustment Case Files, an Index to Final Pension Payment Vouchers, Military Award Cards, Bureau of Public Roads records, Ratified Indian Treaties and about 495 more on a gazillion subjects! Click HERE for more info.

Many, many of us have at least someone who hailed from New England in our family. Here is a great opportunity to assist the NEHGS with database projects to make more information available to genealogists online. Current projects include extracting information from Catholic Archdiocese of Boston church records and the NEGHS Register. The web team will provide training, but volunteers need to have a basic knowledge of Microsoft Excel to extract information into spreadsheets. Proofreading opportunities are also available. In addition, the Jewish Heritage Center is seeking volunteers to assist with translation work in Yiddish, Hebrew, and German, as well as transcribing handwritten materials. Check out their opportunities HERE.

Do you have New York Roots? If you are like me and have deep roots there, you are always hungry for new information, which is hard to come by in that state. What better way to get more information than to help make it more available with a little of your time? If you are so inclined, the NYG&B launched the New York Digitization and Indexing Project in 2017. They are gathering, digitizing, and indexing records from local towns and counties in New York. Click HERE for more information, including an interest form to fill out. Even though we are way out here in Washington, there are still plenty of opportunities to help from home and you just mind find that town or county record you’re looking for.

Click HERE to create an account in Scribe to help the Washington State Digital Archives transcribe documents. Currently, they have Marriage, Naturalization and School District Registers and Censuses for many different counties and time periods. There are so many amazing records from our state that it makes me want to keep on adding to their collection. You can sign up for “For the Record”, a monthly newsletter that keeps you in the know about new projects and who is ahead in the indexing leaderboards (yes, the indexers compete!). Washington State Archives consistently wins awards for being one of the best state websites in the U.S. If you don’t know about this one yet, whether you want to index or not, check it out at https://digitalarchives.wa.gov/Home.

I hope you enjoy looking at some of the records these sites have to offer – there are so many not listed, obviously, but if you have a subject, society or cause you’re passionate about, have a look and see if you can find an opportunity that appeals to you.

Michele Mattoon


  1. Wow Michele, you did some excellent research to come up with this comprehensive list! I'll get your blog link up on Facebook. Cheri


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

How Do You Use DNA Results From Multiple Sites?

Where We Have Been and Where We Are Going

X, Y and Mitchondrial DNA