Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness

Our volunteers have agreed to do a free genealogy research task at least once per month in their local area as an act of kindness. While the volunteers of Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK) have agreed to donate their time for free, you MUST PAY the volunteer for his/her expenses in fulfilling your request (copies, printing fees, postage, film or video tape, parking fees, etc.) if they ask for it.

RAOGK is a global volunteer organization.  Our volunteers take time to do everything from looking up courthouse records to taking pictures of tombstones. All they ask in return is reimbursement for their expenses (never their time) and a thank you.

At one time there were thousands of volunteers in every U.S. state and many international locations, and helped thousands of researchers.

Be sure to read our RAOGK Guidelines and FAQ’s for before making a request and or becoming a Volunteer

We also provide U.S., State by State  and County by County Research guides. In these you will find resources and information that can be found. Most will inform you of what type of records can by found in each area, dates of availability and addresses, links and contact info to those records

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It’s all about Volunteering

Looking for a RAOGK volunteer?

Is this your first visit to Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness? We want your visit to be a successful one. Our staff has put together a list of Guidlines for making requests for you to view and read before making any requests.

Register Now!

Want to Volunteer?

Ideally, you should reside in the area for which you volunteer. The purpose of this site is to help others obtain copies of documents, pictures of tombstones, etc., that can not be obtained easily by those who do not live in the area of their ancestors.

Volunteer Now!

FAQ – Guidelines for Request & Volunteers

Please Read BEFORE making requests!

Please read the FAQs in this section before you decide to make a Request from a RAOGK volunteer. You must be registered to be able to contact a Volunteer.  Then view the Volunteer Listings Directory.

Please do not send your requests for lookups to the site coordinator, or the site’s hosting service. Requests sent to either one will not be answered.

Thank you for using our site.

The site is free to use. However, you WILL be expected to reimburse expenses incurred such as: film, video, postage, copies, and/or printing fees. In some areas you will also be expected to pick up parking fees. You are NOT to be charged time.

If you feel you have been unfairly charged, please contact us and we will look into the situation.

Locate a volunteer in the area where information is needed. Read their Act of Kindness. Please only select a volunteer who has stated they will do the research you need in that area. Please do NOT request lookups/information if you live within travelling distance (up to 50 miles) from the city/area where you’ve made your request. In some instances and in some areas, the volunteer you’ve requested information from may even live further away than you do.

When you have made your selection, click on the volunteer’s name.

Fill in the form, making sure you have entered your e-mail address correctly.

Click the submit button. If you have filled your e-mail address in correctly, you should receive a blind carbon copy of your request for your own records.

You may request one or two items concerning one or two ancestors.

Do NOT ask a volunteer to do anything outside of their specified location or to do anything for which they have not volunteered.

Give any information you may have which will make it easier for the volunteer to know they are retrieving the correct information. Be very specific in what you are requesting.
No, please don’t. Our volunteers do not appreciate duplicating another volunteer’s work. If you do place the same request to more than one volunteer in the same location you will receive notice of your error, with the possibility that your lookup will not be honored.
Keep checking back. We have people volunteering daily.
A timely response (from 48 hours to 2 weeks) indicating whether they will be able to honor your request. If the volunteer will be able to honor your request they might at this time make you aware there is a waiting list, their methods of honoring your requests, whether there is any charge in doing this request, and if so, some may request pre-payment.
Absolutely NOT.

No birth documents will be looked up on anyone born after 1930 without proof of death first being provided.

If you are an adoptee you can go to  Cyndi’s List — Adoption or RootsWeb’s Guide to Tracing Family Trees — Lesson #31 to obtain information to help you with your quest.

They normally do not. It is up to each volunteer to choose if they want to do more than our recommended guidelines.

If you need someone to do in-depth researching, your best course of action is to hire a professional genealogist. Some sites on the internet that list professional researchers are:

Volunteers are only obligated to do one look-up per month. However, many volunteers choose to do more than the one per month. You may be placed on a waiting list if that volunteer already has other requests to fill.
After one month.
If you make more than one request of any one volunteer per month, that volunteer may request a researcher’s fee. It’s up to the volunteer to decide what to charge for this.
If your first attempt receives no response after 2 weeks, e-mail that volunteer again. Please use the RAOGK website to make your second attempt, so there will be documentation of both attempts.

There are many legitimate reasons why a volunteer may not have responded timely to a request, such as e-mail or computer problems, family or personal illness, or vacations. Please remember that those who have signed up for this site are volunteers and may
be busy with other aspects of their lives.

If you receive no response to your second attempt after one week contact us to report the non-responsive volunteer. Be sure to enter both dates you attempted to make contact when completing the “contact us” form.

NOTE: If you (or your ISP) use a spam blocking service that rejects mail from unauthorized addresses (either addresses not on an approved sender list or not in your address book), our volunteers cannot be expected to click a link to verify that they are not spammers in order to reply to you. Make sure your spam filters allow mail from all senders and do not use a challenge/response blocking feature.

Rate the Volunteer and leave a comment. Also send the thank you to their email address or their postal address. Volunteers appreciate knowing that they’ve made a difference.
Please come back to this site to return the favor by volunteering at least once for your own home area.
All of our volunteers have come to us, we do not solicit folks to do so. Our volunteers consist of people who are from all walks of life, with various knowledge of genealogy and the areas for which they volunteer. Many of our people sign up after being helped by one of our volunteers and only wish to “pass it on.”

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness is NOT in any way responsible for the transactions between volunteers and requesters. This site only lists those who have submitted their names to be volunteers.

Please read the FAQs in this section before you decide to become a RAOGK volunteer. After reading and accepting our policies and procedures explained herein, click on the link provided to sign up as a volunteer.
To volunteer please register here. Then Submit your listing here.

Ideally, you should reside in the area for which you volunteer, since this is a site where volunteers do the legwork for others.

You are expected to reply to a new request between 48 hours and 2 weeks of receipt. This response lets them know that you have received the request and whether you can honor it or not. Your reply should also advise the requester if there will be any reimbursement of costs that may occur and a general idea of that total. You need to give them a time frame within which you feel you can accomplish their request. If you cannot honor the request you need to let them know this as well, so they can move on to another volunteer.

The purpose of this site is to help others obtain copies of documents, pictures of tombstones, etc., that can not be obtained easily by those who do not live in the area of their ancestors.

Documents could be death records, marriage records, land records, wills, baptismal records from churches, cemetery information in the form of photos of tombstones, military records, obituaries and the list goes on. Of course, all those documents mentioned may or may not be available for copying depending on the location.

The purpose of this site is to help others obtain copies of documents, pictures of tombstones, and other types of secondary/primary sources as proof of lineage. Lookups from a book for every reference to a specific surname can be beneficial, but the ability to do so would be more productive if posted to one of the many genealogical forums (message boards) on the Internet.

You may charge reimbursement only for postage, film, video tapes, cost of making copies, and possibly parking fees. No charges may be made for your time.
Professional genealogists are most welcome to participate as RAOGK volunteers. If you choose to serve as a RAOGK volunteer, be careful to keep professional and volunteer activities separate. You must not use your volunteer position to advertise or recruit clients.
Your name should appear within one to five days. All Volunteers have to be approved. To check your listing, go to the lookup directory. If you do not see your name listed within one week please let us know.
We recommend only ONCE per month but you may choose to do it as often as you like. We believe that a volunteer can spare one day a month to aid another researcher.
We suggest that you keep a waiting list. We have advised requesters they may be put on a waiting list and to please be patient. Please inform those that are on a waiting list of this fact.

If you find yourself swamped, you may go on “Temporary Status” for a period of time so you can catch up on fulfilling your requests without receiving any new ones. Temporary status will remove you from being viewable on the website, but maintain your information in our database. Temporary status can be used if you go on vacation, become ill or having computer problems.

Reply to the requestor and ask them to give you more information about their ancestor and to state exactly what they want you to lookup. If you still receive an unreasonable request contact the staff. Let them know what location the request pertains to and state the problem. The staff member who handles your area will advise you in the matter.
Some volunteers choose to honor them. If you do not choose to, simply reply to the requestor and remind them of the RAOGK guidelines.

From the FAQ’s for Requester’s

They may request one or two items concerning one or two ancestors.

They can not ask a volunteer to do anything outside of their specified location or to do anything for which they have not volunteered.

Volunteers are only obligated to do one look-up per month. If they make more than one request of any one volunteer per month, that volunteer may request a fee. It’s up to the volunteer to decide what to charge for this.

No, we do not keep a record of how many lookups you have received and completed.
We have a log of all the requests that are made through our site. There are staff members that go through these requests on a daily basis. Their job is to cull out duplicate requests that are sent to more than one volunteer in the same area. In order to give these staff members time to find and notify the requesters, along with the volunteers involved, we would like for you to wait 48 hours before acknowledging receipt of any request you receive.

When a duplicate request is detected, a message is sent out to the requester with the volunteers involved being copied on the message. If you receive one of these duplicate messages, it will contain a message for the requester to select which volunteer they want to do the lookup and to write the others not to bother.

When you have completed the act of kindness, ask the recipient to return to the site so they can perform an act of kindness at least once in return. This isn’t mandatory, but a nice gesture.
Log into your account and edit your profile.
Feel free to link to your profile. Another good way is to post on social media outlets.
Not at this time. We are working on a forum to handle this issue
Please double check to make sure your question has not been answered as it may be covered in an answer to another question.

If your question still has not been answered, please go to our contact us page for information.

When you get to the submit page for signing up below, please enter your name as you would like for it to appear on the site. Please enter your e-mail address correctly, double check (we all make typos).

The next item to check off or fill in is very important, it is your act of kindness (AOK). You need to be as specific as possible as to what you can do, only you know your limitations. You also must remember that a few people will not know much about the area you are located. Many people do not realize that a county/region can be hundreds of miles across so if you can only research in a certain area of the county or region you must specify this in your act of kindness. We ask you to be specific.

After volunteering if you find that you are receiving requests you cannot fulfill, or too many requests, your act of kindness may be too general in scope. You can change your act of kindness anytime by logging in and editing your profile

To volunteer please register here. Then Submit your listing here.

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