Dec 052015

International Volunteer Day


The United Nations (UN) annually observes the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development on December 5. 
The day, also known as International Volunteer Day, gives us the chance to thank the volunteers for all the their contributions. 
So much of what happens in family and local history societies is done by volunteers. In fact without them very few societies would be able to open their doors at all.

Some of these are done with images being sent by email or people transcribing documents such as the Will Transcription project being done by the Oxfordshire Family History Society where they have put online transcribed wills  searchable by name and place.
Others are done online such as the Queensland State Library: PitchIn project which is digitising and tagging historical Queensland documents.There are other opportunities like this where you could help with West Australian transcription & indexing projects :: 
Of course, FamilySearch is the best known of the online family history indexing projects where individuals or groups can go online and index documents. They are setting up a new indexing platform which will allow you to index using your iPad or Android tablets. The below graphic was taken from the FamilySearch site today showing what can be done by many volunteers around the world. That is 102, 786, 912 million records indexed by volunteers!

They are indexing many non-English language records so if you are clever enough (unfortunately I am not) why not index another language thereby  making those records accessible to all too. 

There are a number of very special records too such as the Freedmen’s Bureau Project which currently has 10, 000 volunteers who have indexed online around 15% of the records. This will be a fantastic resource for African American research.

With 521 current open projects there is sure to be something which you would find interesting.


I think of volunteering as giving back, paying forward some kindness and in today’s troubled world any kindness shared around can make life just that much brighter.

The joys of modern communication and computers means we can all give back. 

Trove the so superlative FREE, yes I said FREE Australian newspaper digitisation site also has wonderful volunteers that correct the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) text. The computer has done a varying job in recognising the characters. Many wonderful volunteers spend time correcting the test so that you are able to find that entry when you search.

My hat is doffed to John Warren the top ranker in the Hall of Fame for doing over 3 and a half million lines of corrections! (I have only managed 24, 736 lines corrected but I do try and stay in the top 1000 preferably in the top 900 depending on other commitments.)

There are so many wonderful volunteers and also so many projects that we would all dearly love to see completed.

Today on the International day of Volunteers pause for a moment to say thank you.

Then think for another about how you might be able to help. So many of these indexing projects can be done at your computer in the comfort of your home. What projects does your society have happening or are considering?

Can you spread some kindness today?