Update (June 2012):

As indicated in the recent comment below, efforts have begun to resurrect Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. A RAOGK Wiki has some basic information. There are also two Facebook pages, one for USA-based requests and one for international requests.


An unwelcome piece of genealogy news this week, via Dick Eastman: Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness is going offline for an unspecified time in the wake of computer issues and its administrator’s health problems.

Read the full announcement here. I myself have yet to utilize RAOGK — I’m lucky to live close to my ancestral stomping grounds. But it’s a sad shock for the many, many fans of the groundbreaking volunteer referral network, which in 2010 was named one of the year’s Best Big Genealogy Sites by Family Tree Magazine.

It was also a bit of a shock to realize that this was the first I’d heard the name of an actual individual behind RAOGK, although I’m sure it’s not a big state secret. It’s just interesting that something like RAOGK can be out there as a dependable genealogy livesaver, and still be sort of anonymous. (I went back and checked the Family Tree mention from 2010, and there weren’t any names there, either.)

What also strikes me is the fragility of these labors of love. We refer to them, and rely on them, and assume they’re rocks. But ultimately a lot of networking efforts are the product of just a very few hearts, minds and wills. The idea of being the actual heart and mind of an institution like that is a bit frightening. Many recognize this, even if they don’t ‘fess up to it.

All you have to do is read the commentary following an announcement such as last week’s – many, many pleas for somebody somewhere to take over the work; maybe one or two actual offers to do so.

But I don’t want to make too much hay of a case where there aren’t a lot of particulars available. Maybe it’s just a temporary shutdown and the worries are premature. Maybe the logistics of getting a temporary administrator up to speed are just one more thing the RAOGK folks do not need right now.

In any event, I wish Bridgett Schneider all the best.  And thank you.

Note: There is a Facebook page where RAOGK volunteers are posting information about their expertise and availability.


6 Comments on “On RAOGK”

  1. Margie says:

    RAOGK has been down for nine months now. Had heard on April 27 that Doc was working to bring the original site back up …

    The RAOGK went up on March 2 and as of mid-July has about 380 active volunteers.

    Visit: http://raogk.wikia.com
    Consider activating a link for your volunteer services while the RAOGK site is down.

    The wiki has the same ease of use of the old RAOGK. Go to a state/county (country/province, etc), find a volunteer.
    Additionally, it also has blogs, chats, polls, and soon … a USA and International forum.
    It has all the advantages of the old site … and many of the features/functions found on Facebook, but much more structured. Wikis also don’t go down.
    IF a person creates a wiki account (totally OPTIONAL) you can follow pages and be alerted to changes to the page — usually when a person activates their link. With a wiki account, the user also has a Profile page and a Message Wall (very similar to those features on FB) With a wiki account, a volunteer has the option to use their email as a link for their services (direct email contact by the researcher) or to have the researcher post their research request on the Message Wall. If the latter, the researcher posts the request and then the wiki sends an email to the volunteer.

    Each volunteer who activates a llnk for their sevices makes the wiki just that much more viable a tool for researchers and volunteers … and one person closer to the 4,000 volunteers the original site had.

  2. Pam says:

    I am a RAOGK Volunteer.Like others I hope this site will come back
    Bridgette take care of yourself.

  3. Carol Jean says:

    I have not used the website, but have referred it to other people. I know the value of this website, when I was doing most of my genealogy research there was no such help.
    My website: http://www.genealogy-research-tools.com is to give people the tools to do their on genealogy research. Along the way you meet relatives you did not know you had, plus meet many other genealogy enthusiasts.

    Bridgette Schneider I hope this is only temporary and that all goes well for you.

  4. cowantex says:

    I sincerely hope that the site will come back up. I have used the site many, many times and am most appreciative of the efforts of the many volunteers who’ve assisted me. Without RAOGK, I would not have been able to get some of the information I needed without having to go the various states/cities myself. This is truly a loss to the genealogy community. If the site needs a volunteer administrator, I’ll be willing to volunteer. It’s the least I could/can do for such a beneficial site.

  5. Hallie says:

    I was sadden to read that the owner of RAOGK is having health issues. I have used the site many, many times. It was “WONDERFUL”
    Get well soon

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