“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted”.- Aesop
That might seem an odd way to start a post on a genealogy blog, but it is one that I truly believe, and one that we can all use in any facets of our lives – including genealogy.
Think of how much we take for granted these days as a researcher. We log on, and we can search newspapers, we can search indexes, we can see original documents, even old photos of people and areas. Then there’s headstone photos and transcriptions … I could go on, but you get the idea.
I’m sure you can all relate to losing entire days just sitting, getting lost looking at data and records online. It’s phenomenal what you can find these days.
Just remember every entry, every photo, every document takes the work of someone to put it there. And while there are literally BILLIONS of records already available to search, there are many, many more just waiting to be indexed or transcribed. And that’s where you can help.
Call it crowdsourcing, volunteering or just helping out – it all means the same thing. And there are many places around the world that are calling out for volunteers for indexing, transcribing and photographing. And as the quote says “no matter how small, it is never wasted”. Or as I say, “every little bit helps”.
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” – Charles Dickens
So I ask you, can you spare an hour or two a month? Or maybe a week? If so, why not give back to genealogy community by being a volunteer transcriber or indexer. Or even a volunteer at your local society (you know they’re always after volunteers).
Below are a list of a number of organisations that are publicly asking for volunteers. Most have digital projects, so can be done from anywhere. A few though are requesting volunteers for onsite projects or services.
Carnamah Museum/State Library of WA ‘Virtual Volunteering’ – various documents
Genealogy SA – various projects
Griffith University ‘The Prosecution Project’ – court records
National Archives of Australia ‘arcHIVE’ – various documents
National Archives of Australia ‘SODA’ – various documents
Public Record Office Victoria – various documents
StateRecords NSW – various documents
State Library NSW ‘Our/Your War Story’ – WW1 diaries & rediscovering indigenous languages
State Library Queensland Pitch In! – various documents
State Library of South Australia ‘SA Memory’ – documents
WikiTree Project Australia – various
The National Archives ‘Operation War Diary’ – WW1 diaries
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum – World Memory Project
“When we plant a tree, we don’t plant it for ourselves but for our children.” – The Reverend Mae “Mother” Wyatt
I know that this isn’t an exhaustive list, and that there are likely to be many more big and small crowdsourcing projects out there. And if you know of, or are involved in one that I haven’t mentioned, please feel free to leave a comment below, so others can see it.
To finish off, I want to point you to two articles that are worth reading.
The first from Dick Eastman of “Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter” is titled Digital Collections of Historic Newspaper Available on Veridian lists many newspaper sites from around the world that use specific software that allow for text correcting. Rather than list each individually above, I thought I’d just direct you to his post.
And Rose writes about Crowdsourcing text correction and transcription of digitised historic newspapers: a list of sites or her Views and News on Digital Libraries and Archives blog. She lists numerous newspaper sites worldwide that rely on crowdsourcing for text correction.
So if you can possibly spare a little time, why not help out, even in a small way.
Paying it forward is so important, Alona. Thanks for highlighting some ways we can help.
Other links for genies include:
I agree Alona, and believe it is more important than ever, with all the budget cuts to archives and libraries worldwide, both at regional and national level. Even the small grants to local family histories and museums have gone. It is a desperate situation in so many places. If everyone does a little, much can be achieved.