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Start the New Year with Genealogy Kindness

Start the New Year with Genealogy Kindness

Happy New Year! It's that time of the year when many people consider how they want this year to be different than the last. That contemplation usually involves making some goals to improve oneself. One professional genealogist has suggested an idea about what you can do differently this year.

Genealogy Kindness

The genealogy community has a history of kindness, both as organized groups and as individuals. I know I have benefitted from those whose kindness to me has extended to conducting a lookup at a library, taking a photo at a cemetery, or teaching me something about a record. We all have benefited from the help of others, whether an individual or a group. The work of groups of volunteers, such as Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness and the US GenWeb has benefitted those of us who have sought help. Even if we don't have a lot of time to volunteer, we can support the work of individuals helping others like Cyndi Ingle of Cyndi's List or Tami Mize of Conference Keeper. Melanie McComb's idea of daily genealogical kindness is something to consider.

So how can you start passing along genealogical kindness? Even if a daily act is too much, you can do one thing this year that will help another family historian. It doesn't have to be a significant undertaking; it can be something simple. Melanie provides some ideas for ways to help in her Facebook post. Other possibilities include the following:

  • Joining a Facebook group for the place you live or a genealogical topic and adding your expertise
  • Volunteering for a genealogy or historical society
  • Posting information you have gathered in your research
  • Transcribing or indexing records
  • Offering to do lookups at a library or archive
  • Taking part in a genealogically related project
  • Conducting oral history interviews
  • Passing on copies of photos or records to other family members

It comes down to doing something that you see is needed. Many of you probably are doing something, but maybe it's time to do something new to help the genealogical community or, at the very least, a friend or fellow society member. Remember that your passion or interest in a genealogical subject will help someone.

If you are currently spreading #GenealogyKindness, thank you. Your work may not get a lot of accolades, but it does make a difference. Thank you, Melanie for reminding us to start the year by considering kindness.

Have you benefitted from the kindness of others? Tell me about it in the comments below, and let's acknowledge those whose kindness extends beyond their genealogical research.


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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I love to look for thing for other people and have been doing it for years. But, I've also been the recipient of 2 very special look ups. One lady I had gotten her a death certificate at our State Archives (I'm in NJ, she is in FL) and she wanted to reciprocate. I didn't have any FL relatives so she told me she goes to NARA in Wash DC every year & she volunteered to look for my GG Grandfather's Civil War Pension File. She found it and send me over 100 pages of information that helped me verify some BMD records for his family. Then a woman in SLC offered to look up cemetery records for me at the FHL (before we had local access) and was able to give me information on 3 people that I thought might be my grandfather's parents (we knew nothing about his family). Turned out to be his parents & his grandmother - 2 generations of family I would have waited years to find - so, yeah, I get records for other people all the time and love doing it.

On the subject of helping others, it wouldn't be amiss to send kudos, as well as thanks to the wonderful folks on the Legacy Users Group on Facebook. The names Cathy Pinner, Essie Cunningham, and Cecily Bishop come quickly to mind. I've learned so much from these ladies just from reading their responses to questions from other members of the group, without ever posting a query of my own.

Everything that I know about one great grandmother, other than her name, came from one or two lovely distant cousins, one of whom has moderated the Lovelace surname group for over 25 years. He has seen it from Rootsweb to ancestry to IO, with a major yDNA study along the way. The other cousin is a voracious 19th C document reader and drops pearls in my lap. Thanks, Greg & Doug!

In my 30 years of research I received more help prior to internet development. This could be 1. because so much is available online that people stop there and 2. because many researchers are casual novices.

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