Updated With Suggested Changes Included:

(28 January 2011)

Project Volunteer and Web Site Standards/Guidelines

Welcome to the Project!

Are you a new volunteer Coordinator? Welcome to the USGenWeb Project! 

Are you a new State or Assistant State Coordinator? Congratulations!

If you are new to the Project, you might want to check out the New Member Survival Guide at http://www.usgenweb.org/volunteers/newvolunteer.shtml for general information about the Project.

Whether you are new to the Project or a new State Coordinator, you will find answers to many of your questions in this guide. New CCs/LCs can contact their SC for answers to any questions not found here. Should there be any changes made to these Guidelines/Standards, you will be notified by your State Coordinator and this web page will be updated.

Items listed as *Required* are the essentials -- minimum requirements for Coordinators and Project sites. Beyond the essentials, you can be as creative as you wish with the design and format of your site.

The *Strongly Recommended* and *Recommended* items will help you as a webmaster and will assist visitors to your site, so we ask that you implement all that are appropriate to your site.

First, here are the acronyms and terms you will frequently see in this document and elsewhere within the USGenWeb and your State GenWeb Project:


  • CC = County Coordinator

  • SC = State Coordinator

  • LC = Local Coordinator (Used for coordinators of townships, city/town and special state projects i.e. Military, Marriages, Mystery Photos, etc.).

  • TOC = Table of contents


  • The terms “Coordinator” and “Local Coordinator” are used throughout the Bylaws, Standard Rules and Sustaining Rules. Within these Guidelines “Coordinator” is used to refer to all members of The USGenWeb Project. A full title is used (e.g. State Coordinator) when indicated.

  • County Web site = Applies equally to borough, parish, town/city, township and special state projects and Special Projects web sites.

  • Index [index.htm or index.html] Home, or Main page = All of the terms reference the first page a visitor sees when going to your web site. Within these Guidelines the term "Index" page is used.

  • XXGenWeb = Where XX represents a State Project, i.e., ALGenWeb = Alabama

  • Project = The USGenWeb Project.

Your web site - As the owner of your web site, you have the option of establishing your web site on any server. Project web sites are hosted by a variety of servers, many of them free of charge. Your SC is available to help.  Check with your SC for any particular state requirements for county web sites. If you are changing an existing web site, check with your SC about any state guidelines regarding removing any currently posted information.

Some of the state coordinators have prepared sample pages to help you get started. If your state does not have a sample file, you can check out other well-established websites for ideas. Some coordinators have had the opportunity to fine-tune their web sites over time, so you should be able to find some excellent ideas.

If you need help creating/editing or uploading your pages, help is available at < http://www.usgenweb.org/volunteers/tutorials/ >. If you have problems not addressed by the tutorials, additional information is available by subscribing to the USGW-HELPPAGES E-mail list.  To subscribe to the list version, send a message to USGW-HELPPAGES-request@rootsweb.com or for the digest version USGW-HELPPAGES-D-request@rootsweb.com with the word "subscribe" (without quotes) in the subject line and the text body and nothing else in the body of the message.

Below you will find listed required and recommended items for Project members and Project web sites. Please read through all of the information as there are sections for "ALL" project members web sites and specific information for other sections of the membership and web sites.

Required for ALL:

  • Contact information for the coordinator must be on their USGenWeb Project site. The coordinator's name and contact information (email address and/or Email Registry ID) must either be on the main/index page of the site, or there must be a link to a "Contact Info" page. If using a "Contact Info" page, the coordinator's name must still be on the main/index page of the site. (See AB:motion 2008/09-11; Approved 4 Mar 2009.)

  • All Coordinators are expected to respond to public and/or county coordinator inquiries within a reasonable timeframe.

  • All USGenWeb members are responsible for adhering to the Project's Copyright Policy (see http://www.usgenweb.org/volunteers/bylaws.shtml, Section X for more information). Check with your SC for any particular state requirements for county web sites. Although the Project Policy specifically addresses genealogy information, it pertains also to all facets of the web site, i.e., graphics, html coding, backgrounds, audios, videos, etc. A copyright notice can be as simple as © “your name” and "current year". For more information see http://www.usgenweb.org/volunteers/copyright.shtml.

  • Solicitation of funds for personal gain is inappropriate except as provided for in the Project's bylaws (see http://www.usgenweb.org/volunteers/bylaws.shtml, section IX, subsection B) .

  • All web sites shall include prominent display of The USGenWeb Project logo on the index page (see http://www.usgenweb.org/volunteers/bylaws.shtml, Section IX, Subsection A. "Prominent" is defined as standing out; readily noticeable; conspicuous, per Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

  • The USGenWeb Project logo that you use on your web site must be one of the official logos chosen by the membership. These logos can be found at http://www.usgenweb.org/volunteers/logos.shtml (see http://www.usgenweb.org/volunteers/bylaws.shtml, Section IX, Subsection A).

  • The The USGenWeb Project logo must not be altered in any way (size, colors, etc.) Inclusion of the logo in a banner is not considered to be an alteration.

  • There must be a link to the USGenWeb National site at http://www.usgenweb.org.

  • If used as a link, the logo or the name of the USGenWeb Project must link directly back to the USGenWeb Project index page at http://www.usgenweb.org (see http://www.usgenweb.org/volunteers/bylaws.shtml, section IX, subsection A).


Strongly Recommended for ALL:

  • A search engine for your site.

  • Link to the USGenWeb Special Projects at http://usgenweb.org/projects/index.shtml


Recommended for ALL:

  • Periodically run URL/Link checker

  • A Disclaimer about outside links, for example: "Links to web sites that are not part of the USGenWeb Project are provided for your convenience and do not imply any endorsement of the web sites or their contents by The USGenWeb Project."

    Required for SCs & ASCs and/or State Project sites:

    • Each state shall have a State Coordinator and either an Assistant State Coordinator or other support person/team in place in the event that the State Coordinator is unavailable for a period of 30 days or more . See http://www.usgenweb.org/volunteers/bylaws.shtml, Section XII, Subsection A.)

    • The National Coordinator shall subscribe all State and Assistant State Coordinators or designated State Support person(s) to the State Coordinator's mail list. All official matters to do with the project and announcements from the national level are posted on this list (see http://www.usgenweb.org/volunteers/bylaws.shtml, Section XII, Subsection D). Subscription to this list is mandatory.

    • State Coordinators and Assistant State Coordinators or designated support person(s) must provide their name, postal address, and phone number to the National Coordinator to be held in strictest confidence and to be used only in the case of an emergency. The email address of all support person(s) must also be provided. (See http://www.usgenweb.org/volunteers/bylaws.shtml, Section XII, Subsection D.).
    • The state coordinator is required to maintain a state mail list with all local coordinators subscribed. (See http://www.usgenweb.org/volunteers/bylaws.shtml, Section XII, Subsection D.)
    • State coordinators and/or Assistant State Coordinators are required to forward all Project-wide announcements to the state mail list. They shall also forward other messages of interest regarding the state and/or region as appropriate.
    • State Coordinators or a designated person/committee are required to periodically check to make sure that all the county web sites are adhering to the few USGenWeb Project requirements (logo, queries, etc.) and that they are updated within a reasonable amount of time (see http://www.usgenweb.org/volunteers/bylaws.shtml, Section XII, Subsection F). 
    • The state has the responsibility to remove links to local-level project websites not meeting the USGenWeb Project standards/requirements (see http://www.usgenweb.org/volunteers/bylaws.shtm, Section XII, Subsection G).
    • The following links are required for State web sites: (See http://www.usgenweb.org/volunteers/bylaws.shtml, Section XII, Subsection B):
    • 1. A direct link to all county sites.
      2. A direct link to the National USGenWeb Project site at http://www.usgenweb.org
      3. A direct link to the USGenWeb Archives Project at http://usgwarchives.net, as well as one to the State level Archives at http://usgwarchives.net/xx/xxfiles.htm
      4. A direct link to the member-approved official USGenWeb Project logos at http://usgenweb.org/volunteers/logos.shtml
      5. A direct link to the USGenWeb Project Copyright Policy at http://www.usgenweb.org/volunteers/copyright.shtml
      6. A direct link to the WorldGenWeb Project at http://www.worldgenweb.org/


    Strongly Recommended for SCs & ASCs and/or State Project sites:

    • Provide for queries about unknown counties
    • Provide a surname registry for unknown counties
    • A link to the Archives search option at http://usgwarchives.net/search/searcharchives.html.
    • Require that County and/or Local Coordinators provide complete contact information, i.e. name, postal address and phone number.


    Recommended for SCs & ASCs and/or State Project sites:

    • As much information as possible regarding the state or county research resources with links.
    • State and/or County boundary maps.


    Required for County/Local Coordinators and County/Local Project sites:

    • Your State Coordinator will subscribe you to the state's email list. All official matters to do with the Project and announcements from the National level will be posted on your state's mail list.See http://www.usgenweb.org/volunteers/bylaws.shtml, Section XI, Subsection B.)
    • Each county site must provide an easily accessible area for queries. See http://www.usgenweb.org/volunteers/bylaws.shtml, Section XI, Subsection C.) If your state doesn't have other requirements, there are several options available. Three are:
    • 1. You may provide a link to an existing message board related to your county. - or -
      2. Coordinators may generate their own query systems, such as mail merge on their web sites. - or -
      3. You can use an established system such as rootsweb.com <http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/>, genforum.com <http://genforum.genealogy.com/>, or ancestry.com <http://www.ancestry.com/>, etc.

    • All county/local sites must have a direct link to the state's project. (See http://www.usgenweb.org/volunteers/bylaws.shtml, Section XI, Subsection C.)


    Strongly Recommended for County/Local Coordinators and County/Local Project sites:

    • Provide basic research information for your county: names, addresses & phone numbers for the county court clerk, library and genealogical and/or historical societies.
    • A bibliography page showing the reference books available for your county.



    Recommended for County/Local Coordinators and County/Local Project sites:

    • County Boundary maps
    • As County/Local Coordinator, join the county mail list(s) for the county/counties that you coordinate.
    • Include a link to or instructions for subscribing to county mail list(s) that are related to the site(s) you coordinate..
    • Link to the WorldGenWeb Project at http://www.worldgenweb.org

    Once again, we welcome you to The USGenWeb Project.