07 January 2010

Volunteerism or What I Do With My Free Time

Volunteerism - Before I started my formal education in genealogical studies, I found different ways to learn. One of the best opportunities to learn is to volunteer your time and talents. Way back when, I didn't have a vehicle so it really limited my choices, or so I thought.

I started trolling the web looking for calls for volunteers. I came upon the Brigham Young University's "Immigrant Ancestor Project." The project identifies and acquires microfilmed, digital, or photocopies of emigration records for emigrants that left their native countries in Europe for the Americas. Volunteers extract the original records and make the extracted information available online free of charge. The site also provides the contact information and a form letter to the archive where the original record is located so that users can ask for the original record. I was quickly placed in the British records section extracting information from writers petitions to the East India College. I was even honored as one of the first volunteers of the month!

Next I found work in Iowa. While on the Iowa GenWeb site, I came across an announcement that they were looking for volunteers to transcribe information from headstones that were compiled during a survey conducted by the WPA (Works Project Administration) in the 1930's. I transcribed the entire county of Poweshiek and part of Pocahontas. You can search the database here.

Missouri was the next stop. A few years ago The Missouri State Archives began its Death Certificate 1910 to 1955 Transcription Project. I worked 8 months extracting information into a database that makes that information available online through a searchable index that links to a digitized image of the original death certificate. You can search the database here. I also worked 6 months transcribing land patent records which you can search here.

Currently, I found an opportunity a little closer to home, the San Francisco Mortuary Indexing Project. The final index and images will be freely searchable at SFgenealogy. This project will index the digital images of actual mortuary records. We are currently working on the records from the Martin & Brown funeral home. The records from Halsted Mortuary 1923-1974 are complete and can be searched here.

Working with different types of records, either transcribing or extracting, has enriched my genealogical eduction unlike any classroom ever could. It is ALWAYS a "win-win" situation when you become a volunteer.
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