If you love your family history, why not get more involved in your hobby by volunteering for a project that helps you and fellow family historians by preserving the information before it crumbles away. There are a variety of projects that will be of interest for those of us who like to get out and about to photograph in the fresh air; and there are others that will appeal to people who enjoy transcribing historical details from home. Of course you may wish to do both the stages, or just the one, that's your choice.
We all like to turn to online records and easily find our ancestors - but this needs the raw information from the records to have been transcribed behind the scenes so that the data can be explored using the website's search engine. While we usually never give it a second thought, as we log in and begin looking for our ancestors, the process that allows us to seamlessly search for and find our ancestors requires someone to have scanned, or photographed, the original record and then to have made a transcription of the words from the document or the memorial.
The International Headstone Database is one such volunteer powered project that UKIndexer runs which rewards those family historians that take part, both mentally and physically. You can pick a cemetery near to you, from those on a map on their website, and with a digital camera/iPhone or similar you can sign up to photograph just 20 headstones, or even a whole graveyard. In return for your transcriptions or photos you are rewarded with credits. These can be spent on a huge number of genealogy products from GenealogySupplies.com or for subscriptions to TheGenealogist.co.uk.
Similarly, UKIndexer are looking for people to transcribe the family history data that can be gleaned from these memorial records before they are completely lost to future generations through erosion, acid rain or removal of the stones by the authorities.
Having grown from small beginnings, when a family historian decided to take a camera and photograph a few cemeteries in the North East of England and then transcribe the information from those old monuments before they wore away, the project has now expanded to stretch to cemeteries all across the world. Wherever you are there is probably a project that needs your help.
There is an easy to use tool and lots of helpful notes on the UKIndexer site to guide you along the way. So when you wander into the peaceful environment of your chosen graveyard and begin shooting the valuable family information on the memorials - often the only place that some details had been recorded or survived - you will know how best to capture the memorial's lettering, depending on the conditions. When it comes to transcribing, UKIndexer's notes and frequently asked questions will guide you to turn in the high quality transcripts that we all wish for when we are searching online for our family history.
Of course it is not just headstones that you can volunteer to transcribe. UKIndexer is adding all sorts of other records that will need transcribing and they have begun the process with the fascinating Poll books and Residential Directories. To get involved making more family history records available and help your fellow genealogists take a look at the projects on www.UKIndexer.co.uk