With the new year, I am planning to do more blog posts for Amy Coffin’s 52 Weeks series. This is now week #3 and the topic is “Free Online Genealogy Tools.” Specifically,
Free online genealogy tools are like gifts from above. Which one are you most thankful for? How has it helped your family history experience?
My favorite free online genealogy tool is the USGenWeb Project, hands down. When I started my genealogy research in 2006, the USGenWeb was a fundamental component of the early successes that I was able to achieve. The Washington County, NC page contained a very comprehensive listing of deaths from the county that had been compiled by local volunteers. Due to the extensive coverage (from 1913-1980) and the wealth of information included in the index (names of parents for example), I was able to connect many families together in my tree and obtain vital records information. Then, as a result of gathering those details, I ordered certificates galore.
Then, because of the benefit I’d gained from the volunteer works of others, I knew I had to find a way to give back and I sought out a way to join the USGenWeb Project myself. I started by becoming the site coordinator for Blount County, Tennessee. Though I had no personal research connections with the area, I planned to use my proximity to the Tennessee State Library and Archives as a source of material. Soon after, I became webmaster for the NCGenWeb, took on several counties with them (including Washington County!) and this summer, became the State Coordinator of the TNGenWeb Project.
I value the USGenWeb’s efforts because in many cases, the site coordinators just wish to provide resources to help others. One of my fellow coordinators in the NCGenWeb, Lisa Frank, recently wrote a fantastic blog post about the USGenWeb that is a must read. Each county is unique and you never know what you may find — this makes it all that much more interesting to peruse.
I am extremely passionate about the mission of the USGenWeb, wish to see it continue to grow as a resource to all, and am proud to be a part of it. I love browsing and searching pages across the site looking for tidbits about those I research.