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In the genealogy world, a lookup is a service provided by volunteers to check available genealogy sources for others who live in distant places or do not have access to the same sources. The service is typically free, although they may be a charge for expenses incurred such a copying and mailing. In general, lookup volunteers do not charge for their time. The idea behind lookups is that they are quick and limited in scope.

Lookup volunteers provide a valuable service to the research community. Almost every researcher has had occassion to benefit from someone able to check a cemetery for the date on a headstone or to check a vital records index that is not online. Lookup volunteers may specialize, checking only a particular type of source within an area. Requests made to lookup volunteers are typically limited to one or two names at any given time -- lookup volunteers are not expected to conduct extensive research. Lookup volunteers can be found on several genealogy web sites, including the USGenWeb and Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. It is also possible to post lookup requests on the various genealogy message boards.

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