Celebrate Volunteers during April, by Paula Stuart Warren

April is National Volunteer Month, and 27 through April 3 May is National Volunteer Week in both the U.S. and Canada. This month is a perfect time to think about something we can do.

The Genealogy Connection
In March I wrote about April being Volunteer Month and included some ideas for volunteering in the areas of history and genealogy. Readers were asked to share their efforts. You really responded. Here are a few examples from that correspondence:

~ Norma Nyberg of Columbia, Missouri, who calls herself a proud member of the Genealogical Society of Central Missouri, recently completed copying and typing the biographical sketches in the 1882 “History of Boone County, Missouri,” so they could be uploaded onto the society’s website. This history is still available for purchase from the local historical society.
~ Eva Burns Bachman of Lincoln, Nebraska, wrote that she is volunteering for the Nebraska State Historical Society in their Library/Archives room assisting researchers. She is also updating the Community of Christ, Lincoln Congregation, “Memory Book” by researching obituaries and family stories about members who have passed away in the last ten years. She is researching and documenting those buried in the Morelock Cemetery in Morrow Township, Adair County, Missouri, and in the Old Germfask/Ackley Cemetery in Germfask Township, Schoolcraft County, Michigan, as well as assisting the Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society with publications and meetings.
~ Shawn Dempsey of Castle Rock, Colorado, shared a couple large volunteer efforts. She is the chairman of the Castle Rock Historic Preservation Board and also volunteers as Webmaster for the Parker Genealogical Society of Colorado.
~ Maryann Vallone of Mason, Warren County, Ohio, reports that she volunteers at the Warren County Genealogical Society and has been entering will and estate information into an Excel spreadsheet. She will be transcribing the 1902-1907 Warren County marriage records, which involves going to the Warren County administration building, making copies of the marriages (those giant books are heavy!), then entering the data into a spreadsheet. Approximately 1,200 records will end up as about 100 pages of an indexed, bound book, which will be sold to aid the society’s coffers.

~ Pat Payne, of St. Cloud, Florida, volunteers at her local Cocoa, Florida, Family History Center; serves on the board of her local genealogical society (Genealogical Society of South Brevard); is bringing a program on African-American research to a local community center; and is organizing an effort to restore a family cemetery. But the thing she is most enjoying is Family Search Indexing. “I need more information about my Irish ancestors and am spending quite a bit of time helping index the Irish BMD indexes.” 

~ Jan Davenport from Arkansas is one of many volunteers for the Arkansas Genealogical Society (AGS) and also does prison ministry. Jan also volunteers for the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) and is the chair for the 2009 FGS/AGS conference to be held in Little Rock, Arkansas. Jan leads the AGS Family Search Indexing Project which is indexing Arkansas marriages.
Doing Your Part
I thought back to my own volunteer jobs, which have included packing Red Cross relief boxes; volunteering as a hospital Candy-striper; doing committee work and chairing school fund raisers; chaperoning school trips for children and grandchildren; serving as a Bluebird leader; answering correspondence for historical and genealogical societies; indexing records; serving on boards; packing hundreds of books to move a library; volunteering shifts at a genealogical library; editing and proofreading; chairing local, state, and national family history events; teaching others how to make the most of Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org; serving on society boards; and participating in a bunch of other ongoing tasks.

Think about what you can do from home or on-site to help preserve family information, community history, cemeteries, and church records; index records; teach others the joys of genealogy; or write about that library you recently visited. It can be as simple but important as writing a letter to legislators about records access concerns.
It Takes Many Hands
Whether volunteer or commercial, these projects are not free; someone is paying for the Web space, software, obtaining records, perhaps work space, and other expenses. The more hands that index, abstract, digitize, copy, preserve, and share records, whether on a volunteer or commercial basis, the more possibilities we have for adding to our family history.
Happy Volunteering!

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Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, a Minnesota resident, is a professional genealogist, consultant, writer, and lecturer who is frequently on the road. She coordinates the American Records Course at the annual Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. She writes for several periodicals including “Ancestry” Magazine. Comments and additions to her columns will reach her at < PaulaStuartWarren@gmail.com> or via her blog http://www.PaulaStuartWarren.blogspot.com. She regrets that she is unable to answer individual inquiries due to the volume of requests. From time to time, comments from readers may be quoted in her writings. Your name will not be used, but your place of residence might be listed (i.e., Salina, Kansas).
Appearances by Paula Stuart-Warren, CG
(I enjoy meeting fellow genealogists at these events so please introduce yourself as an Ancestry Weekly Journal and 24/7 Family History Circle reader. Many of you do take me up on this suggestion.)
14-17 May, Kansas City, Missouri
National Genealogical Society
25 October-1 November, At Sea
Genealogy Cruise in the Caribbean; 1 June registration deadline

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