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Let’s Hear it for the Genealogists


What in the world of genealogy are you thankful for? Even in a pandemic year, there are things that the genealogist might be thankful for. When I think about my own list, towards the top are the volunteer efforts of those in the genealogical community and what they contribute to our collective research. Without individuals, groups, and society volunteers, researchers would not have the scope of free indexes, transcriptions, and records available to us.

You probably have some favorite volunteer projects that are your research go-to’s. Finding aids like Cyndi’s List and Linkpendium immediately come to my mind, but there are so many more resources to explore. Naming all those projects in a blog article is difficult since there are so many. The following are just a few I randomly selected that you might want to add to your resource list. 

The Ancestor Hunt is such an important resource if you are looking for United States and Canadian historical newspapers. Don’t forget to explore the links to other records such as Yearbooks and Directories or the More link at the end of the top toolbar that has a drop-down menu of all kinds of records that are easy to miss on the website.

Online Historical Directories is the work of genealogist Miriam Robbins who also hosts a sister website called Online Historical Newspapers. This work in progress provides links to directories (yes, city directories but others as well) for countries that include the US, Canada, and Ireland. Links include resources for free and fee-based websites.

Houston Suffragists Project. I’m so grateful to Nancy Loe of Sassy Jane Genealogy who posted about this project. In honor of the 19th amendment the Houston Genealogical Forum “a small group of genealogists, to find and preserve the historical records of Houston women voting in 1920.” The suffrage centennial inspired this group to ask “Could we identify the newly enfranchised women in 1920?” From that research question, they set out to find those women in records. A fabulous project that helps tell the story of female ancestors from Houston. Peruse the List of Women to see if you recognize a name.

The Honor Roll Project is a project founded by genealogist Heather Wilkinson Rojo that encourages others to “transcribe and photograph military honor rolls. The transcribed names make the soldiers available for search engines, so that descendants, family members, and friends can find them on the internet.” If you have an honor roll plaque in your hometown (or a town you are visiting) consider adding those names to this project. The project currently encompasses the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Olive Tree Genealogy. This work by Lorine McGinnis Schulze includes over 1,900 genealogy records in the categories of: “Passenger Lists, Immigration Tips, Canada, Military, Genealogy Guide, Loyalists, New Netherland, Native American, Palatine Genealogy, Photo Albums, Almshouse, Lunatic Records, Orphan Records, Huguenots, Mennonites, Quakers,” and more. In addition to transcribed records, you will find tutorials and genealogy guides. Do yourself a favor and spend some time perusing this website.

Online Searchable Death Indexes and Records. I’ve written before that I’m a big fan of Joe Beine. His websites are great finding aids for vital records and other genealogically relevant materials. His other websites can be found on his Professional Genealogy & Family History Research page . If you’re researching in the United States, do yourself a favor and check out his blog post on NARA’s Social Security Numident Files. His blog also provides updates about what links he has added to his websites.

Obviously, there are more projects than what I have listed including large collaborative projects like the USGenWeb. But my point was not to just give you some great links but to also get you thinking about the volunteer projects you use and love.

Thank you!

Thank you to all who have a project, big or small, that makes the difference to family history researchers. It’s a lot of work and dedication and although it’s not said enough, it is appreciated.

Do you volunteer on a project that provides resources and records to family historians? Do you know of a website that you rely on that is volunteer-driven? Please share it in the comments below.


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.




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Thamk you Gina for including my site. Much appreciated!

Thanks for this post. It's what FINALLY got me to write down my thoughts and thankfulness for the year 2020. And Legacy webinars was part of that. So, again, thank you.

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