The Closing Down of RAOGK

RAGKOne of the most useful genealogical resources for over a decade has been the many volunteers from across the United States in all locations associated with the online site “Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness” (RAOGK). These local volunteers took email requests from people across the country needing assistance obtaining documents from an ancestor’s local courthouse, obituaries, news articles from libraries or photos of headstones from the town’s cemeteries.

The current administrator, Bridgett Schneider, of RAOGK, just sent out the news bulletin in mid-October, 2011, that the site needs to close down ‘for awhile.’  They have had major problems recently with their hard drive on the computer plus the overall health of the administrator is not favorable. This could well turn out to be an indefinite time period the site is closed down.

Such a valuable service for family history researchers will be truly missed. Yet, through the growing social media site such as Facebook, there are a few other sites that can be of assistance.

In the April 12, 2011 Genealogical Blog, information was provided about RAOGK.  Now in light of what recently happened, here are some other alternatives.

There are Genealogy Research Communities on FindAGrave site.  Some 70,000 grave records and growing are listed.  Not everyone has a photo of the headstone, but many do contain images. It is also possible to contact the person who set up the information on a specific individual listed to request if they could furnish a photo of the headstone.

Using the Rootsweb message boards (part of the community); a whole new resource is also available.   These message boards, which are open to everyone, have not only surnames but locations, in the United States and other countries.  For example, going to the section ‘United States‘, you then go to the sub-category of ‘States’ and click on the state’s name. Selecting Indiana for example, you go then to ‘Counties’ folder which has 92 different counties.  To make a request go to ’Post New Thread’ and a box comes up in which you can place information about an obituary, document, newspaper article, or photo you are looking for from that county. You will need to sign in to form an account, which is free and easy to do.  There is no guarantee you will get the response and information you need, but more of the former volunteers of RAOGK will be assisting on Rootsweb in the future.

A similar genealogy message board is GenForum.  Again you can get assistance with surnames but also regional locations. It is set by states and counties as well as other nations outside the United States. After locating the county there is a tab at the top titled ‘Post New Messages”. Here you make your request after registering with the site.

The numerous local genealogical or historical societies in counties and regions of each state are always willing to assist a researcher about their local area.  Locate them by using a search engine like ‘Google.’  Some societies may ask a small fee to research the archives, libraries or cemeteries, but it is small price compared to you traveling to that ancestral hometown. Plus they are very familiar with what is available in their county, saving you the search time also.

So RAOGK will be truly missed. However, look to the expansion of other sites to fill the void.

< Return To Blog As one who has used this for close to 11 years, it will sadly be missed a great deal. If there was any way to bring this site back up it is a boon to searcher for obits etc. I have found no source to be as useful in terms of volunteers making themselves available. What is sad also is that even the volunteers themselves do not know it is being discontinued, as I had an email from someone in CO who asked me for the info. Sad, sad to see it go it was very unique and useful.
Pam Long 24/10/11

For FindAGrave-may I make a suggestion. If you find a memorial for an ancestor and need a picture of a stone, it would be better to request the picture by using the Request A Photo button located on the right hand side of memorial (about half way down). A lot of the memorials have been added by people that are just using books of cemetery information to create memorials. Find A Grave has many volunteers that will go to cemeteries in their locality to fill the requests. It may take awhile but if there is a stone or the cemetery is accessible the request should get filled.
Alice Price 24/10/11

Nov. 12th - Just received the word of the passing of RAOGK founder, Bridgette Schneider. Such a loss.
alice 24/10/11

Looking for an update on a 1955 graduate of Dearborn High School and the University of Michigan in 1959. She has undoubtedly married and I don't know her married name. She lived in Bloomfield Hills in the '50's. Her marriage was probably in one of the local churches. Looking for someone who will investigate this.
Jimmie Bergeron 24/10/11

In leu of the 1940 getting released tomorrow in some states (Oregon), I contacted the RAOGK that assisted me a few yrs. ago tonight (1 Apr 2012) and JUST learned of Bridgett and the site. Sadly, my researcher also lost her daughter 6 mos. ago and due to no RAOGK clients, she could not contiue her Ancestry membership, was a needed income. :(
Susie Hillison 24/10/11

Now see, where Margie Cowan is continuing the work of Bridgett, who is described as the real "founder", although Margie gets the "official" title as the founder of the wiki.
Robin Patterson 24/10/11

I am so saddened at this news about Bridgett's death. I absolutely will and do miss RAOGK. I worked in it for about 3 years a few years ago until I had to stop and take care of my ill Mother. When I got ready to get back in, it was gone. Good luck to Margie and I hope she can get something simular to it going again. God Bless. Jean
Jean Wallace 24/10/11

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