Everyone likes to get something for nothing, and that goes for family historians too. Amongst the UK genealogy community websites such as Freecen, Free BMD and Freereg are incredibly popular, and why not? They offer a great starting point for further research and, speaking personally, they have broken down more than one brickwall by providing me with the information to finally locate an elusive ancestor.
While the sites mentioned above do not cost the user anything to use and they are staffed by volunteers, they do cost a lot in terms of time. Each and every entry in a free database was submitted by a volunteer who took the time to transcribe the available documents – which were often hard to read. In my opinion these people are the heroes of genealogy and each and every one of them deserve our thanks. However, we can give them a little more than that. We can help them in their efforts.
All the free online transcription services are calling for volunteers. I suppose it is a case of so many records, so few volunteers. But it doesn’t have to be that way – you can help out. Transcribers aren’t a special breed, they don’t have super powers. They are ordinary people who spend a little time each week transcribing records for the benefit of others. Transcribing isn’t difficult, it is simply a matter of typing the information you see in an entry and uploading. You will be given comprehensive instructions by the project coordinator who will be happy to answer any questions. You won’t be paid, but you will have the satisfaction of knowing you have given a little back for the help you have received.
If you would like to help out, try some of the following links:
- Online Parish Clerks – UK: the home site of the UK OPC project which includes links to all the current county sites.
- Freecen: the volunteer transcription page for the free census project
- Freereg: the volunteer page for the free parish records project
- Free BMD: the volunteer page for the free births, marriage and death records project
If you know of another project which is calling for volunteers please leave a message in the comments.