PAGenWeb Project Policies

General Introduction

The PAGenWeb Project is a member of the non-profit, volunteer genealogical organization called, The USGenWeb Project ( As such The PAGenWeb Project (  website and all associated county websites must conform to the established policy and procedures set forth by our parent organization. The guidelines that are described on the USGenWeb Volunteers Information page and the USGenWeb Project Bylaws which describe in great detail the organizational structure, election procedures, and general policies of this organization, form the foundation for each state project. All project members and interested project members should carefully review the above websites before agreeing to participate in any USGenWeb State Project.

PAGenWeb Project Policies

The following Policies and procedures are specific to our state project. All PAGenWeb Project members are required to read and understand the following information prior to their participation in this project.

Project Name

The name of our organization is "The PAGenWeb Project." The name, "The PAGenWeb Project," and "The XXGenWeb Project" (where XX is the county name) are service marks and reserved exclusively for The PAGenWeb Project and any websites representing The PAGenWeb Project. Please note that the correct name and spelling is in upper and lower case letters without any space breaks in form (correct: PAGenWeb incorrect: PA GenWeb or PAGen Web).

Our Mission

The PAGenWeb Project is an organized group of volunteers working to create an online center for genealogical research by linking sites representing every county in the state of Pennsylvania. The purpose of this organization is to gather genealogical and historical information for free online access by researchers.

This is accomplished by creating websites which are central repositories of historical and genealogical research data, donated either by the website coordinator or other contributors and kept at the local county level.

Organizational Status

The PAGenWeb Project, as a group of volunteers participating in a not-for-profit organization, is considered to be an "Unincorporated Non-Profit Association." PA unincorporated nonprofit associations

The History of the PAGenWeb Project

In the spring of 1996, a group of genealogists organized the Kentucky Comprehensive Genealogy Database Project, which evolved into the KYGenWeb Project. The idea was to provide a single entry point for genealogy data and research for all counties in Kentucky. In addition, the information for each county would be indexed and cross-linked to make it easier for researchers to find a name or data that they sought.

In June 1996, as the KYGenWeb Project was nearing 100 percent county coverage, interested volunteers decided to create a similar set of pages for all states, thus establishing The USGenWeb Project. Volunteers were found who were willing to coordinate these efforts for each state, and additional volunteers were sought to create and maintain websites for every county in the United States.

The PAGenWeb Project was created in June of 1996 and was organized by Gary Steiner of the Genealogical Computing Association of Pennsylvania. Since then, the Project has grown and changed dynamically. The PAGenWeb Project maintains a high level of excellence among its coordinators and takes great pride in the service provided to researchers.

Project Administration

The PAGenWeb Project is administered by a team of members including a State Coordinator (SC) and two Assistant State Coordinators (ASC's). There are 67 county websites and there are a maximum of 67 county coordinator positions, although from time to time a single county's responsibilities may be shared by co-coordinators. However, many coordinators volunteer to host more than one website. It is recommended, however, that no coordinator host more than two websites at any one time.

Responsibilities of Project Members

The State Coordinator (SC) is elected by the project membership and can serve an unlimited number of terms. Although the SC may serve in an unlimited capacity, he or she must be re-elected by the project membership every two years (see election procedure below). Duties for the SC include recruiting and training new project volunteers, maintaining an internal mailing list, and creating and maintaining the state web site. The SC may appoint other members to serve in volunteer positions such as webmaster, archivist, welcome hostess, new member training coordinator, special projects coordinator, etc. These positions should be held by members in good standing and do not merit any special project authority or position other than meeting specific needs of the project.

The Assistant State Coordinator(s) (ASC) are selected by the State Coordinator based upon volunteer interest. The ASC is responsible for assisting the SC in any special projects that the project may develop. They also serve as Co-SC in the event that the elected SC resigns, becomes ill, is on extended vacation, or is unable to meet the SC position requirements. The ASC's primary duty, other than assisting the SC with state matters, is that of Quality Control Coordinator for the county websites located in their region. Each ASC performs a bi-annual check of all county websites. These checks help ensure the smooth operation of the project, help maintain a consistent standard throughout the project, and identify any problems with links, navigation, or html coding. The ASC should be a county coordinator in good standing and be in the region that he or she oversees (for example, the Western ASC should host a county in the western half of Pennsylvania).

The County Coordinator (CC) is responsible for creating and maintaining websites at the county level. The CC should try to include as much county reference and resource information as is available. Each county website should strive to include the following elements:

  • County maps
  • Local history
  • County mail list
  • Query board, not required but suggested
  • Family website links
  • County resource addresses
  • Lookup resources

State Coordinator Election Procedures

Every two years there will be a State Coordinator election, usually held in the month of October. An elections committee (EC) shall be convened which can be either the USGenWeb Project Election Committee or comprised of two county coordinators (one from each region) and the ASC(s). **The EC shall set the date for the election and choose a method for casting votes (manually or electronically). All project members will be notified via email on how to cast their votes and when the voting period will begin and end. The Voting period should be scheduled on or around the 1st of October.

Candidates must have been a CC in the state for the preceding 12 months to be eligible for the position of State Coordinator. The month of September may be used to nominate candidates and announce candidates for the promoting of campaign issues.

The state coordinator will be elected by the project membership. Each coordinator/co-coordinator may cast one vote only (no matter the number of counties hosted). The winner of the election will be the individual who receives a fraction over 50 percent of the votes cast, if no candidate receives at least a fraction over 50 percent of the vote then a run off election will be held between the two individuals with the highest vote totals. The winner of the run-off will be the individual who receives at least a fraction over 50 percent of the vote cast.

Selection of County Coordinators

The position of county coordinator is selected by the SC. All interested persons should contact the SC to see if the county of interest is available. If it is available, the SC will determine qualifications for hosting the county (qualifications include but are not limited to: knowledge of the county's history, ability to create and maintain a website, file transfer protocol (FTP), and desire to serve). The most important quality is a desire to serve as part of this project. If a person is interested and is knowledgeable in the county but is new to the internet or to website design, help is available from other project members.

The county coordinator needs to be available to make updates to the website. CC's are not required to do research but respond to emails as a courtesy and generally provide assistance, if possible.,Time requirements for this position can range
from 30 minutes per week to several hours. The amount of time given to each project is solely dependant on the volunteer but a minimum amount of upkeep is required to keep the website on active status within the project.   New CCs are expected to have a site up and running within two weeks of appointment, and if this does not happen the CC will be replaced.   Website Support - USGenWeb, tutorials, coding, Tips, Tricks, discussion lists and Templates

Active Status

It is imperative that all websites remain active once they are networked as part of this project. A website is considered active when regular updates and additions are made to the website. The Project Administrative team understands that not all volunteers have access to materials and are not able to transcribe volumes of information for use online. However, it is expected that every CC will maintain their sites to the best of their ability. Date stamps on all pages are encouraged. If used, we ask that date stamps be updated regularly even if the page has not changed much. Regular website checks will be performed by the ASC(s). Website checks will include all required elements and links, query board usage (or email page updated regularly), as well as general appearance and functionality of the site (link checks, etc.). Obvious errors in coding will be brought to the cc's attention but choice of layout, design, colors, etc., are not part of the check process.  However, if any background choice makes type elements practically illegible, this will be brought to the CC's attention for modification.  Website checks will be conducted twice per year and email notification will be sent to each CC with a copy sent to the SC. Any websites that do not meet the project standards will be noted and the CC will have approximately two weeks to make corrections. If the CC doesn't make corrections within the two week period (exceptions include vacations, illness, etc.) the website will be placed on an "inactive status". If after 30 days the website corrections have not been made and the CC is unresponsive to email requests, a new host will be recruited to fill the county coordinator position.

Resignation of a Coordinator

In the event that a coordinator no longer wishes to volunteer with this project, notice must be given to the SC as soon as possible. The SC will announce to the mail list that such and such coordinator is stepping down and can offer the county up for adoption to the membership first. If no one is interested in adopting the county, a notice will be placed on the county index and a new host will be recruited to fill the vacancy. The outgoing coordinator may choose to remain with the project until a new coordinator is found or may choose to step down immediately. If they choose to step down immediately, the SC will put up a temporary page so that interested persons can adopt the site.

Article XI. Section D. USGenWeb Bylaws shall apply
D. If a Local Coordinator can no longer perform their duties for any reason, those sections of the website submitted or donated by contributors other than the website coordinator, shall remain with the website, unless the submitter(s)/contributor(s) indicates otherwise.

If a state coordinator resigns, the ASC's will serve out the remaining term. A new election will be held the following October to elect a permanent SC.

Removal of a Coordinator

Every coordinator is guaranteed due process in the PAGenWeb Project and is given 30 days to rectify any problems or issues within the project. However, certain behavior will not be tolerated and may be grounds for immediate removal of either a SC, ASC or CC. A coordinator that cannot be contacted for a period of 30 days either by e-mail, phone or letter will be replaced.  The following are types of behavior that are considered inappropriate for this project:

  1. use of foul, derogatory, abusive language on the state mail list
  2. derogatory, inflammatory, or abusive comments made towards any member of the project

Arbitration, Grievance Procedures

All problems within the project will be resolved according to the following procedure. Issues between coordinators should be handled privately and with discretion. If a resolution is not forthcoming, the two parties should contact the state coordinator for assistance. The SC may include the ASC's in any problem resolution issues and ask for guidance and suggestions. If a resolution cannot be reached that is satisfactory to the two parties, a neutral committee of two county coordinators (one from each region, eastern and western) shall be asked by the SC to arbitrate the grievance. Upon further discussion of the issues, the committee shall present its findings and a proposed resolution to the SC. With the SC approval of the committee's resolution, the parties shall be contacted and the outcome shall be considered final.

Project Guidelines

The following guidelines are to be in effect for all members of this project until further notice.

1. The PAGenWeb Logo and return link must be placed on every county website. The USGenWeb Project requires every project to display an approved USGW logo and include a return link to

  PAGenWeb Logo   
2. Every county must include a copyright notice on all website pages. The following copyright notice is an example only of common copyright statements used on the internet (you may choose your own wording). The only date necessary is the original copyright date. 

Copyright Statement

Copyright ©1998. Host Name. All Rights Reserved.

Unless indicated otherwise in a particular page carrying this copyright notice, permission to use, copy and distribute documents and related graphics delivered from this World Wide Web server (url of county site) for non-commercial uses is hereby granted, provided that the above copyright notice appears in all copies and that both that copyright notice and this permission notice appear. All other rights reserved. Host Name disclaims all warranties with regard to this information. The information described herein is provided as is without warranty of any kind, either express or implied.

The organization is not responsible for the accuracy of submitted content and cannot be held legally liable for any omissions or incorrect content.

3. USGenWeb Bylaws -

D. If a Local Coordinator can no longer perform their duties for any reason, those sections of the website submitted or donated by contributors other than the website coordinator, shall remain with the website, unless the submitter(s)/contributor(s) indicates otherwise. 

All copyrighted material contributed to the website by someone other than the webmaster should contain a copyright notice granting permission to publicly display the material from the author of said material. Any material that is copyrighted and published without permission from the author must be removed immediately.

4. Each county coordinator may choose to host the county's website anywhere on the internet. PAGenWeb has server space available for Pennsylvania County sites that are members of PAGenWeb.  Contributions are voluntary.  The SC advises the membership of the status. They may secure their own webspace. The PAGenWeb Project maintains no authority over any account hosted by another service provider.

5. Every coordinator must be subscribed to the internal mailing list., PAGenWeb-Volunteers The demeanor on this list will be appropriate for a public forum and any member that uses derogatory statements, inflamed comments, or publicly derides another member will be removed from the project without any due process. No abusive language or behavior will be tolerated.

In Conclusion

All coordinators are required to keep fresh in their minds the mission of this project. Our goal is to help visiting researchers find useful resource and reference information online and assist them in tracing their family history. Our job is to be friendly, responsive, helpful, cordial, and most of all, available. These are volunteer positions and as such mandates as written above are only relevant if the membership agrees to abide by them. The Project Administration team has worked hard to try and cover every possible scenario that may occur given the nature of internet genealogical projects. However, we cannot guarantee that your experience as part of our project will be perfect or stress free. We have created a working policy that will serve this project well so long as all members agree to participate fully and without any measure of distrust or dishonesty. That said, the Project Administrative team reserves the right to implement any and all of the above procedures as needed to maintain a well-working, thoughtful, internet project.

These policies were adopted on October 06, 2023.