Genealogy Volunteering Opportunities

Volunteering hands


Did you know that April is National Volunteer Month?

This is very convenient for the genealogy community since the 1950 U.S. census is being released on April 1, 2022. (That’s when the mandatory 72-year privacy waiting period ends.)

Here is a list of genealogy volunteer opportunities, and some of the benefits of participating.

I'll bet there are more ways to volunteer in the world of genealogy than you expected there to be. Here are just a few. Enjoy! Click To Tweet

All Levels of Experience are Welcome

1950 U.S. Census

All genealogists will have a new toy to play with as of April 1! The 1950 U.S. Census records will be available right away, but they are counting on volunteers to help review them. You can select a state or surname that interests you. They’ll show you computer-generated entries that need to be reviewed. Then you’ll fix any errors that you detect after comparing to the handwritten document.

Vital Records Indexing

FamilySearch provides easy tools and instructions for individuals who want help index online records to make them easily findable for yourself and others. It’s all done from the comfort of your own computer.

  • Click here to try it.
  • BENEFITS: Indexing makes you realize just how many documents are not yet online and searchable. You can see for yourself how challenging it can be to decipher handwriting and how errors happen, making it difficult for anyone to ever find that record again. But that awareness can also help you be more creative in your searches. The more conscientious volunteers they have participating, the better for all future searchers!
  • There are other ways to volunteer on FamilySearch, such as testing new features, answering questions in the FamilySearch community forum, and helping to translate English content into your native language.

Find a Grave

“At Find a Grave, we all work together to create a virtual cemetery where it’s easy to learn about the final resting place of millions of people from around the world.” Volunteer opportunities include adding memorials and other details, and signing up to receive email photo requests. This is when someone in another area would like someone in your area to go take a photo of their person’s gravestone and upload it to Find a Grave for them.

  • Contribute to Find a Grave (They are asking for time, not money.)
  • NOT RECOMMENDED: Avoid creating Find a Grave memorials for recently departed people you do not know. Sometimes the family members would like to do that for themselves and just haven’t gotten around to it yet.
  • BENEFITS: Most genealogists benefit greatly from the efforts of previous volunteers. And you never know when you might want to request a photo yourself.

Local Genealogy Societies

If you haven’t joined your local genealogy society, why not? They’re all different. Ask them what sorts of volunteer roles they need filled.

  • BENEFITS: Get to know other local genealogists.


Advanced Volunteering

Gravesite Cleaning

I’m putting this in the advanced category because it takes special knowledge to clean gravestones without damaging them.

Local genealogy tutoring

My local genealogy society offers monthly help sessions in which an experienced (but not necessarily professional) genealogist offers to help someone else (not necessarily a newbie) take the next step. This could entail showing them (or discovering together) what resources are available, or analyzing brick walls to try to break them down.

  • BENEFITS: In addition to the satisfaction of sharing your expertise, helping other genealogists to document the new leaves and branches they add to their trees helps increase the overall quality of trees that are out there to be found by others.


Are you a genealogy volunteer? Of what sort? What do you enjoy about it?

Do you see anything here that you might want to try?

Please share with us in the comments!

Copyright 2022 by Hazel Thornton, Organized for Life and Beyond
Author of What’s a Photo Without the Story? How to Create Your Family Legacy
Please contact me for reprint permission. (Direct links to this page are OK!)




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  1. Seana Turner on March 28, 2022 at 4:53 pm

    I am loving this “find a grave” idea. I live in an area with some very old graveyards. I remember taking my daughter to do “grave rubbings” one time. I’m sure there are people buried around me that people may want to find. I’ll have to check that out!

    • Hazel Thornton on March 29, 2022 at 12:59 pm

      Some of the more established graveyards may have been completed (you can look them up on Find a Grave and see, or just wait for a request). But there are often smaller, less formal ones that no one has been interested in until they figure out they have someone buried there! Keep me posted!

  2. Janet Barclay on March 30, 2022 at 2:33 pm

    This isn’t an area I’ve ever thought of when considering a volunteering opportunity, but some of them are very appealing to me as an introvert. So many volunteer jobs require you to leave home and mingle with strangers!

    • Hazel Thornton on March 31, 2022 at 7:24 am

      Good point, Janet! I could write a whole blog post about Volunteering as an Introvert. Maybe I will sometime.

  3. Janet Schiesl on March 31, 2022 at 3:33 pm

    Oh! Find a Grave sounds very cool. I’ve seen stories on TV about grave cleaners. That sounds like a wonderful way of honoring the departed.

  4. Julie Bestry on April 1, 2022 at 12:49 am

    You always have the best resources. And that’s what these are — volunteer opportunities, to be sure, but also resources for those who know nothing about any of this and can benefit from the kindness of genealogy strangers! Last year, I got to see a photo of the graves of my paternal great-grandparents, about whom I knew practically nothing. It was fascinating!

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us! It makes the world a better, more robust place.

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