Sunday, January 6, 2013

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness

Resolution for 2013:  Practice and Promote Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. 
As an amateur genealogist, I know what a treat it is to find another piece of the family puzzle.  Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK) is not new, nor is it my creation.  Much of the credit for this movement should probably be given to Bridgett and Doc Schneider who established the RAOGK website several years ago and created a network for volunteers around the world to help genealogists find pieces of the their family histories.  From obtaining copies of documents to prove lineage to taking photos of old homesites or tombstones, these volunteers provided a valuable service.  The RAOGK website was a way to match requests to volunteers.  The website ceased to exist, however, in 2011 when administrator Bridgett Schneider passed away.  Volunteers have taken up the cause on other sites.  Facebook, for example, has two RAOGK sites--one for requests and offers to help in the U. S. and one for the international community.  Find a Grave also offers an outlet for volunteers to take and share gravesite photos in their communities with those requesting them.  Ancestry has a project going called The Ancestry World Archives Project in which volunteers can work from their home computers and transcribe records so they can be placed online for researchers to access.  Many other opportunities to offer help to genealogists exist online and in local communities.  Wouldn't it be great if more of us shared a bit of our time and resources to help others complete their family histories?  That's what I hope to do this year, and I want to share some ideas and opportunities about how to do so on this blog.  Following is my first random act of genealogical kindness for 2013.  Sometimes merely sharing what you have in your own family history will mean so much to someone else.

Recently, when I decided to create this blog, I pulled out of the closet a couple of old scrapbooks that my mom, Betty Jewel Lane, kept when she was a teenager and young adult in the 1940s and early 1950s.  What fun to see mom with her friends and family when she was a young girl!  The clothes she wore, her hairstyles, the places she visited, even her handwriting throughout the scrapbooks, all gave me insight as to who she was and what life was like then.

Photo Albums  Created by Betty Jewel Lane, c. 1940s and 1950s

Inside Pages of Photo Album (above right) Created by Betty Jewel Lane

Many of the photos in the albums are of the same pretty young woman and are labeled in my mom's handwriting as "Lu" or "Lunetta."  I remember my mom talking about Lu and what good friends they were when they were young.

Betty Jewel Lane (r) and best friend Lu, c. 1945

I also remember Mom saying how much Lu adored her son and how close they were.  Well, Lu's son and I went to high school together, too, but we weren't close, and it has been years since I've seen him or even heard anything about him.  Still, shouldn't these photos and memories of Lu be shared with her family?  So, I turned to Facebook.  I quickly found Lu's son there, and sent him a private message about the treasures I have to share.  Was he interested?  Oh, yes!  Maybe even more so because his mother passed away just a few months ago.  So my project this week is to scan the photos of Lu in mom's scrapbooks and burn them onto a photo CD for her son.  I'll be mailing that CD to him next week along with some of the original photos of his mom.

Have you performed any random acts of genealogical kindness?  I'd love to hear about them!  If you'd like to share your story, please do so in the comment section below or contact me by email at  Thanks!

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