Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness

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A typical tombstone photo as might be provided by a RAOGK member

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK) is a now defunct web-based genealogical research co-op that functions solely by the services of volunteers. Volunteers from any part of the globe may offer services to any requester, such as research of birth and death records, public records, obituaries, marriage records and deeds. Other volunteers photograph burial sites, cemeteries and tombstones. Any fees requested by the volunteers are reimbursements for actual costs involved, such as gas mileage, photocopying, record fees, or postage. However, in most cases, the services are rendered free of charge in the spirit of offering a random act of kindness to a stranger in search of family ties. Thus the name of the organization came into being from the nature of the services offered.

It was originated by two researchers in 1999 who saw the need for such a service in their local area. The small website grew very rapidly from being solely a statewide offering to an international service with some 4,300 volunteers around the world and a staff of about eight, also volunteering their time. In 2007, more than 71,000 requests were handled by the system, 10% of them to volunteers outside of the USA.

As of October 2012 the website is down indefinitely.[1] Bridgett Schneider, the primary person behind RAOGK, died on November 12, 2011. Shortly before her death, she had a computer disaster and the site has been down since.[2] Schneider's husband, Doc, who also helped start RAOGK, stated that RAOGK would come back online.[3] Meanwhile the RAOGK wiki offers a workaround for the official RAOGK site being down.[2] RAOGK has won many awards,[4] and has been featured in smaller local papers such as The Daily News, Jacksonville, North Carolina,[5] the The Morning Journal, Lorain, Ohio,[6] and the St. Petersburg Times, Florida,[7] – as well as AARP Magazine and The New York Times,[8] for the unique service it offers to researchers. Family Tree Magazine awarded the site "Best Big Genealogy Sites" in 2010.[9]


  1. ^ Eastman, Dick (October 18, 2011), "Random Acts of Genealogy Kindness (RAOGK) will be Offline for Some Time", Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, retrieved 2011-11-14 
  2. ^ a b "Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness Wiki". RAOGK Wiki. Retrieved 4 January 2013. 
  3. ^ Eastman, Dick (November 12, 2011), "Bridgett Schneider of Random Acts Of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK), R.I.P.", Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, retrieved 2011-11-14 
  4. ^ Our Awards Sourced, Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness 
  5. ^ Miller, Joe (August 8, 2005), "Finding Faraway Family", The Daily News (Jacksonville, North Carolina) 
  6. ^ Bardwell, Brian (August 31, 2003), "Tracing The Past Of Families", The Morning Journal (Lorain, Ohio) 
  7. ^ Allen, Donna Murray (July 24, 2003), "Genealogy Council Is A Boon To Local Rooters", St. Petersburg Times (Florida) 
  8. ^ "Kindness of Strangers", The New York Times, retrieved 2008-05-23 
  9. ^ "101 Best Websites 2010: Best Big Genealogy Sites", Family Tree Magazine 

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