Volunteer Basics and Requirements


** Volunteers dedicated to 'free' online information **
The TXGenWeb Project invites you to Join Our Team!

Thinking of becoming a TXGenWeb Volunteer? There are many opportunities for you to help this project become more successful and grow, based on your time, availability and knowledge level. The TXGenWeb is part of the USGenWeb Project, a volunteer not-for-profit organization. Our goal is to make genealogical reference information available through the internet, including simple queries, free lookups, biographical sketches, local history, census data, etc. Our hope is to help make genealogical research through the internet available to everyone at no cost.

The TXGenWeb Project consists of a wide variety of volunteers who coordinate or assist in providing genealogical information for each County in the State of Texas. Where do these volunteers come from and what motivates them? The answer is simple. Volunteers are people just like you, individuals who have an interest in genealogy and a desire to help.

How You Can Help

You might become a TXGenWeb County Coordinator, creating your own County web site. Alternatively, you might work with the current coordinator as an assistant or you and a friend might become co-coordinators of a county. You might assist in the research and transcription of information to be placed on County pages. If so desired, it may also be placed in the The USGenWeb Archives Project. You might become a Lookup Volunteer. On the other hand, you might simply share your own family information by joining a county mailing list. We are always happy to have new volunteers.

Lookup Volunteer

Every County Coordinator searches for volunteers to help researchers with simple lookup requests. If you have access to Census records, Cemetery records, County and Town Histories, Marriage information, or any other genealogically useful data, then contact your nearest County Coordinator via the County Index.

Contribute

Consider contributing information that can be published on one of the County web pages. This might simply include posting a surname you are researching; posting a query about one of your ancestors; sharing your Family History (sorry no GEDCOMs); establishing a link to and from your Family Tree home page; listing a County Pioneer at a County web site; or sharing any information pertinent to Genealogy within a County.

JOIN OUR TEAM!

The County Coordinator

To adopt a county in Texas, check the list of Counties and/or Orphans page to see if the county is available for adoption. If it is available, send a message to our State Coordinator with the Subject: ADOPT and the name of the county. If the county you are interested in is not available for adoption at this time, you may email the current county coordinator to volunteer what time or data you have available.
  • County Coordinators are not required to live in the county they host.
  • CCs must comply with the current USGenWeb Bylaws. They must also comply with the current set of USGenWeb CC Guidelines
  • You need ...
  • A knowledge or willingness to learn about the county and fulfill the basic requirements
  • A willingness and desire to assist researchers visiting your county website
  • Time to devote to your county page
  • A basic knowledge of HTML page coding and design, or access to a HTML Editor such as Dreamweaver, Coffee Cup, or MS Front Page
  • A basic knowledge of FTP (File Transfer Protocol) and the use of a FTP program such as FileZilla, Coffee Cup, or Core FTP
  • Ability to make initial changes to the county pages showing you as the new coordinator, to upload changed pages, and to officially take over the county within 15 days of acceptance. It really is not as difficult as it may appear at first. If all has gone well, congratulations!! Notify the state coordinator and a link will be added to your county page - you're ready for your first visitor!!
  • Ability to respond to email messages from site visitors and from members of the state leadership team in a timely manner.

If you're having problems, please ask for help. There are many people on the mailing list to help you as you create your very own web content and format.

Adopting one or more TXGenWeb counties: once approved as a County Coordinator (CC) there is a small chance that you may need to secure web space on your own. We will attempt to secure free web space for you, however there is that small chance that you may need to locate web space elsewhere. Some CCs host their counties on their personal websites or ask their local society to donate web space.

If something happens, and you are no longer interested or unable to continue as County Coordinator, please notify the State Coordinator. A sitting County Coordinator shall not relinquish their county to another person without first notifying the State Coordinator. The State Coordinator and Assistant State Coordinators must approve all new coordinators.

County Page and Volunteer Requirements

The main focus of your web site is to provide a place to post Genealogical Records, as well as Queries and Lookups, which have genealogical connections with your County. You can create your own Query submission forms, which allow you to receive posted queries via e-mail, and in the format you prefer or use the RootsWeb message boards for your county/counties.

Project Name and Logos

The proper name of the project and the way it should be written is "The TXGenWeb Project" and "The USGenWeb Project". The term "genweb" belongs to another group and should not be used to describe our project. The TXGenWeb Project & The USGenWeb Project logos are expected to be displayed on your main page. A variety of logos and other graphics may be obtained from the TXGenWeb logo page and the USGenWeb logo page. In the use of logos and wording, please make it clear to our visitors that you are affiliated with the TXGenWeb Project.

Main Page

Splash pages or entry pages are permitted, but they are not to be considered the actual main page of a website and therefore, the URL for those pages will not be used as the URL the TXGenWeb Project links to from the county tables and maps. When using an entry page, it must contain the TXGenWeb & USGenWeb logos with their respective URLs.

County Coordinator Name and Contact Information

The USGenWeb now requires that the main page of each county website display the County Coordinator's name and give their contact email address. The name and email address may also be placed on other pages, but it must be placed on the main page. Links to an email image or a contact page is permissible for the email requirement. All new CCs must give their name, address, phone number and email address to the SC. The addresses and phone numbers are to be retained privately and used by the SC only when necessary if communication has otherwise broken down.

State Mail List

The state coordinator will subscribe you to the TXGenWeb mailing list for county coordinators and volunteers. This mailing list, TXGenWeb Official Mail List, is an announce only mailing list, is required and is very low volume. The TX-Coordinators mail list is where volunteers of the TXGenWeb Project share thoughts, and ask questions, etc. and it is not required. To subscribe to either list, please send an email to the State Coordinator.

Query Page

Every county must provide a query page. This can be handled with an email link to you and posted manually, or if you have the resources, you can create an automatic mailmerge form page for receiving information. You may also use the RootsWeb message boards for your county/counties.

County Resource Page and Lookups

You are responsible for soliciting volunteers who will perform lookups of genealogical and historical materials for your county, and who understand the USGenWeb's policy on Copyright.

Every county website should provide some basic research help for their county. For instance, many of the county coordinators have provided a list of names, addresses and phone numbers for the county court clerk, library, and genealogical and/or historical societies. Many have also provided a bibliography page showing the reference books available for their county. Lookups should be offered if you or your volunteers have received permission to do so from the book's author or publisher or the reference books you have available meet the copyright policies of The USGenWeb Project.

Updated Web Sites

Every county site must be updated* at least once every six (6) months. This lets the visitor know that the site is being maintained, is not abandoned, and is in good working order. If it hasn't been updated* at least once every six (6) months, we will have to consider getting a new county coordinator. It is a must to keep a working email address and to notify the State Coordinator of any email changes that pertain to the county sites. Newly submitted data is to be posted in a timely manner and broken links researched and repaired at least every 6 months.
*Updated applies to many things, including but not limited to: changing a date, correcting links, adding new info, changing the background, changing the format, etc.

Required Links

Every county must have a link on the main page to The TXGenWeb Project AND a link to the county selection page at http://www.txgenweb.org/allcc.htm.

Recommended Links

Quarterly Roll Calls

It is mandatory that every county coordinator answer roll call. These will be every 3 months, 1st through the end of the month (JAN, APR, JUL, & OCT). If you don't reply to roll call, or answer emails, it will be assumed that you are no longer available and the county will be placed for adoption or given to a new CC.

State Coordinator & Assistants

An election for State Coordinator (SC) will be held every 2 years during the month of October, even-numbered years, with the new State Coordinator taking their seat November 1st. Other state officers, such as Assistant State Coordinators (ASCs), are defined and appointed by the SC; they are not elected.

Respect the Ownership of Donated Materials

Materials posted on TXGenWeb project sites are the property of the submitter and are considered a donation to the TXGenWeb project. (Note: Material submitted to the USGenWeb Archives or to mailing lists or boards owned by other organizations fall under the policies of the respective owner of that resource and are not subject to this policy.) Should the Coordinator relinquish or be removed from a county project, materials submitted by someone other than the Coordinator will remain with the TXGenWeb and will be turned over to the new county Coordinator and/or TXGenWeb. On a daily basis, material should be removed only upon the express request of the submitter. Materials submitted to the TXGenWeb project may also be placed into the proper county Archives upon request of the submitter, but should never be removed from the TXGenWeb county project to be placed into the Archives.

In the event a new CC should feel that there are some inappropriate, erroneous, or useless files on the county website, they must contact the State Coordinator for approval before removing the donated material.

Solicitation of Funds (Art IX, Sec 2, USGenWeb Project Bylaws)

Solicitation of funds for personal gain is inappropriate. This is defined as the direct appeal on the home page of any of the websites comprising The USGenWeb Project for funding to do research, to pay for server space, to do look-ups, etc. A website may, however, acknowledge any entities who may host their website (i.e., provide server space at no cost) or may include a link to a coordinator's personal page on which they offer research services for reimbursement. The acknowledgement may include a link to the hosting entity's website. A website may list research materials and/or services which may be for sale/hire, either by the coordinator, a genealogy society, or others. Such a listing shall not be on the main web page for the site, but may be linked from the main web page. It may be appropriate to include a disclaimer that the coordinator and The USGenWeb Project do not guarantee the contents of such research materials and/or the expertise of any professional researchers.

New Site Evaluations

As new county sites are uploaded to the web, they are checked by someone on the state evaluation committee for the required elements and to be sure your links work. Your evaluator will let you know when they have visited your page. If there are any problems with links or any required elements missing, they will let you know so you may make any changes or corrections.

Welcome to the project

Beyond these few "bare essentials", your page is yours to do with as you please. Should there be any changes made in the basic requirements, you will be notified by your state coordinator and this message will be updated.

TXGenWeb Grievance Procedures

Problems/disputes between TXGenWeb CCs will be referred to the TXGenWeb Grievance Chairperson who will work with the TXGenWeb CCs to resolve the issues.
  • TXGenWeb CCs dismissed by the TXGenWeb SC have the right to have objections to dismissal being heard by a group of their TXGenWeb peers but must file the grievance with the TXGenWeb Grievance Chairperson within 10 days of the dismissal.
  • The dismissed party and the TXGenWeb SC will each nominate 3 TXGenWeb CCs to the TXGenWeb Grievance Chairperson who will select one TXGenWeb CC from each group and one TXGenWeb CC of his/her choosing from the general TXGenWeb membership to make up a TXGenWeb Grievance Committee. The TXGenWeb Grievance Comittee will hear the evidence from both parties in private and will recommend to the full group of TXGenWeb CCs nominated by all parties, known as the TXGenWeb Grievance Team, that they either confirm or overturn the dismissal. The final decision shall be by majority vote. A quorum (5) of the full 7 member TXGenWeb Grievance Team must participate in the voting in order to be valid, with the TXGenWeb Grievance Coordinator being a non-voting member of the TXGenWeb Grievance Team except in the case of a tie. If either party fails to participate in the grievance process, the finding will automatically go to the other party. The decision of the TXGenWeb Grievance Team will be binding on all parties.
  • Problems/disputes between TXGenWeb CCs and the TXGenWeb SC will be handled in the same manner.
  • Failure to comply with a ruling within 14 days will result in the removal of the non-compliant TXGenWeb party, TXGenWeb CC or TXGenWeb SC. Removal of the TXGenWeb SC will result in the TXGenWeb ASC taking over and calling for an immediate TXGenWeb SC election.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much money will this cost?

It should cost you nothing.

How much do I get paid?

The USGenWeb Project and The TXGenWeb Project are made up of volunteers. You get paid - huge amounts - wonderful warm fuzzies and personal satisfaction.

What about web space?

In most cases, web space can be obtained through the State Coordinator. You do not have to pay for server space unless you would like to obtain your own server to use.

How much time is needed to manage a county?

The amount of time depends on the coordinator. If you volunteer to lookup information, that will take time. If you want to put data online, that will take time as well, but once again, the amount of time involved depends on the individual coordinator. Researchers are looking for fresh and frequently updated information on your pages. The time required can range from two to twenty hours per month, depending on the time you have available and your degree of enthusiasm.

What type of data can I put online?

Bible records, marriage records, wills, pension records, land records, death and obituary records, photos and old letters; county, community, church and school histories
  • Any original research material
  • Material that was copyrighted, but now considered public domain
  • Information owned & submitted by a private party
For a more in depth answer on this question, please visit the USGenWeb Copyright Information page. (Example of public domain information: data listed on headstones and public records from state/county entities.)

We THANK YOU for your support of The TXGenWeb Project.