06 March 2009

Historical Societies and Online Groups

This post was suppose to be about events at your local historical societies, but due to working nights, my family obligations, no car right now, and just life I'm not able to join any local historical societies. So I decided to take this opportunity to write about the groups online I have joined in the past or currently a member of.

My biggest commitment right now is as a Grave Yard Rabbit. I was already on this path when GYR was formed. I had began writing about the Kootenai County Cemetery aka. Paupers Cemetery near my home. So it was a perfect fit for me to join GYR as well.

GYR is a group of bloggers who write about cemeteries, graves, burial customs and anything else related to the deceased. If you are a blogger, have a passion for cemeteries and stories to share this would be a perfect group for you as well. Every week we get an email of all the posts the members have posted related to the subject and I really enjoy reading all the interesting posts and learning more about grave yards then I've ever known.

Along that same line I am also a member and contributor to Find-A-Grave. I joined this before GYR. I had planned to go full fill requests for photos of headstones, but I wont be able to do that again until my husband gets my car fixed. In the mean time though I have contributed all the data I have on the memorials of those buried at the Kootenai County Cemetery, some of my ancestors and I plan to contribute more as I have time.

What I love about Find-A-Grave is that for each person you contribute you can create a memorial to them; adding photos of their headstone, a photo of the person, a transcription or copy of their obituary, or type up your own obituary about their life. You can also ad links in their memorial that can take you to their spouse and parents. You can still do most of this even if you find a memorial that someone else already began, or you can simply ad a message, flowers or other icon to their memorial. It's a great way to visit and remember your family members, especially if you don't live in the area they are buried in. Just visit their memorial online.

Now this one I am no a longer host for, but I completely support the work they do. I just don't have the time right now to contribute to their work. Genealogy Trails is another free website, just like UsGenWeb. Both are great sites for finding information on your ancestors. They just don't have enough people willing and able to spend the time transcribing and contributing the vast number of records there are out there. But it sure is exciting when you find something on one of these sites that opens a whole new world of information and the best part is you can find it for free! If you have the time to dig up records and transcribe them for your county area both sites are always looking for help.

My all time favorite site is Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. Thanks to the effort and time of many wonderful volunteers I have been able to dig up things on my ancestors, and those of other families I have helped, that I would not otherwise be able to find. You might say I'm a poor researcher. I know that there are many records out there that aren't online yet, but I don't' have the funds or the time to travel to find them, especially since people I am looking for are often scattered all over the US. So all I need to do is go online to RAOGK and hopefully find someone in the county I am looking, willing to research the records I need searched and send them an email. I just give them the information I have and ask for help in find records related to that person(s). I don't pay for their time. These are all very generous people. The only thing they ask is that you reimburse them for the cost of copies, mailing and in some cases if they live a great distance from the source of records for mileage. The people that volunteer at RAOGK I consider to be the angels of genealogy.

All of these sites are made possible by wonderful people who volunteer their time in order to put information out there for all of us looking for our ancestors. If you have appreciated the work that others have contributed somewhere to help you and you want to find a way to pay it forward, consider joining one or more of these sites and contributing information you have as well for others to enjoy. The more we work together to put information out there for free the more we can help those of us poor researchers to find our ancestors with out going broke doing so.

1 comment:

Sheri said...


I absolutely agree with everything you are saying. When I first started researching online if it weren't for RAOGK and other free and volunteer sites, I would have given up right then and there.

Out of gratitude and because it is the right thing to do, I am also a volunteer paying it forward with several organizations.