Bob Lemmon, Jr. Volunteers His Time Doing “RAOGK.” What’s His Line?

Meet Bob Lemmon, Jr.

June: We’re all dying to know. What does RAOGK stand for?

Bob Lemmon, Jr.: RAOGK is the acronym for Random Acts Of Genealogical Kindness. There are many volunteers throughout the U.S. in most counties. Click here for the link to their search engine.

The links at the bottoms of most pages lead to explanations of how the organization works.

June: What did you do before RAOGK?

Bob: In a previous life I was a commodity broker for 28 yrs — after teaching for 5 yrs.

I’ve been doing volunteer lookups for people in Santa Cruz County since 2003, did lookups for Santa Clara County for a year & a half, and have been doing SF lookups for about a year–but only from 1985 to 2000. (The microfilm of the Chron in the SC Lib covers 1985 to date & a woman in Shasta County is doing 2001 to date, probably using the Chron’s web site.)

While some small, especially in terms of population, mid-Western counties do not have volunteers, there are some large urban counties such as Orange, Los Angeles, Marin, and San Mateo Counties that have no volunteers who do obit lookups. The only volunteers therein are those I call shutter-bugs: they’ll take photos (or, in some cases, videos) of headstones, etc., but they don’t do obit lookups.

The reason is that there is such an overhang of requests for those large urban counties & when someone volunteers, they are overwhelmed with requests. When I was doing S.Clara County lookups from 1985 to date (SJMN on microfilm or CD in SC Lib), a recently-retired fellow volunteered to do lookups at the MLK Branch Lib on the SJSU campus. I asked him if he’d stick around at least 6 mos & he replied, “Certainly.”

June: Did he stay?

Bob: He lasted 2 mos while a couple of women who signed on later only last a week.

June: What can you do about that?

Bob: The solution is for at least 3 people to sign on initially & then once the accumulated overhang has been handled, one person should be able to handle the requests (tho perhaps not for L.A. County).

June: I know you helped Millie Muller search for her Moss Beach relatives, Frank and Fanny Torres. I think she should write a book. What do you think?

Bob: Millie can publish her genealogy by simply uploading a GEDCOM [GEnealogy Data COmmunications] file to a RootsWeb site called World Connect. The World Connect servers do all of the work & the result is a genealogy web site that can be searched using the World Connect Search Engine, which, after the Calif Death Records & Soc Dec Death Index, is the 3d place I check when looking for info on a person.

June: I would never have known there was such a thing as RAOGK. Thanks for telling me, Bob.