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.
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.
- RootsTech session (video):“Get Involved” and Reviewing the 1950 Census
- FamilySearch Get Involved app (iPhone and iPad only at this time)
- Volunteers Can Contribute to Nation’s History by Collaborating on 1950 Census Records — National Archives
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.
I’m putting this in the advanced category because it takes special knowledge to clean gravestones without damaging them.
- Video: Best trick EVER to read old Gravestones (without touching them)
- Blog post: How to Clean Grave Markers (Please read before even considering to attempt it.)
- BENEFITS: I would say there are probably more downsides than benefits if you don’t know what you’re doing. Yes, I’m trying to scare you away from it!
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!)