In 1996, a small group of individuals decided to combine their efforts to coordinate the largest all-volunteer genealogy project to date online. This endeavor was given the name of The USGenWeb Project. Currently one of the largest sites to gather free genealogical information online, The USGenWeb Project has grown and become a trusted starting place for many family historians.
Currently, there are estimated to be over 1,000,000 volunteers working on The USGenWebProject. The site is divided into different projects (interment records, county vital records, passenger lists, etc.) and visitors can access records or volunteer to work on gathering and transcribing hard copies of records as well.
The USGenWeb Project is a compilation of resources for genealogists which are categorized by topic. Currently, there are estimated to be over 1,000,000 volunteers working on The USGenWebProject. The site is divided into different projects (interment records, county vital records, passenger lists, etc.) and visitors can access records or volunteer to work on gathering and transcribing hard copies of records as well. These projects are comprehensive and include:
- The USGenWeb Archives Project - includes transcriptions of public domain records on the Internet including census records, marriage bonds, wills, and other public documents. These records are transcribed by volunteers.
- The USGenWeb African American Griots Project - dedicated to being a central archive for African American records of a historical nature.
- The USGenWeb Genealogical Events Project - listing of Genealogical Events that are taking place across the country as well as to share successes of prior events.
- The USGenWeb Kidz Project - helps kids learn their way around genealogical research. Children can post queries, to see if anyone else is researching their ancestors and there is a "how to" section to help guide beginning research.
- The USGenWeb Lineage Project - gives researchers a place to search for descendants of an ancestor who lived in the US and born before December 31 1850.
Information which can be found online includes the ancestor's name, location, and dates, an email link to the researcher, and the researcher's web page on the family, if there is one.
- The USGenWeb Tombstone Transcription Project - one of the oldest projects. Volunteers walk cemeteries and transcribe tombstones. This project also includes transcriptions which are available elsewhere (county sites, etc.) online.
- USGenWeb Archives Sub-Projects - current projects designed to increase the size of the searchable database.
- Help and tutorials
The amount of information in the archives is vast and can be difficult to find at times. The projects being divided in this organizational strategy is logical, but again, the amount of information is extensive.
The front page has some glitches and images load strangely on some of our review team's machines. This made navigation on the front page difficult. The problem can be circumvented by clicking on the "Site Map" link and navigating from there.
Help and tutorials are non-existent and there is little in the way of on-site help or support. There is no "customer service" department since this site is run by a 100% volunteer staff and is a repository of links to information. There is no product being sold by The USGenWeb Project.
The Bottom Line
The USGenWeb Project has modest roots, but has grown into a behemoth over the last several years. Their commitment to providing free information for all makes them stand out from the crowd. The USGenWeb Project is a resource which genealogists can use and reuse to narrow down research and add more leaves to their family tree. However, we wouldn't recommend using them for more than research.