Saturday, March 19, 2011

Genealogy Message Boards - two favourites

The genealogy community is absolutely wonderful in its helpfulness - there are people all over the world POISED to help you find your long-lost ancestor! I'm talking about Message Boards.

Message Boards are places where you can post questions about all sorts of family history questions: queries about geography, surnames, village names, family trees, and more. If your are looking for other people interested in the surname TREGOWETH (and I am) there is a Tregoweth message board. If you live in Canada but are searching for ancestors in Australia, there are people on message boards who will look up records for you or even go out to cemeteries and take pictures of headstones. If you have questions about genealogy software or where to search next, there are many experienced people who will offer advice. If you have a brick wall and need someone to look at it with a fresh eye, you're in luck. Post your question to a Message Board and you may well get an answer before you've made yourself a cup of tea.

My two favourite message boards are those on rootsweb and on RootsChat. Both of these free sites have an enormous variety of boards organized by topic so that you can post your query to the one most likely to find you an answer. Both are also widely used and very popular so you have a good chance of getting a response. There are lots of other places to post questions, but I suggest these as your starting point.

When you post a question, there are a few tips that make it easier for people to help you. Put the surnames in UPPER CASE. Don't put anything else in upper case though - IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE SHOUTING! Try to be clear about what you already know and remember that names, dates, and places are key. It's important to point out what your questions are, and where you've already looked. People don't like to go out of their way to look things up only to find that you already had that information. Be sparing in requests for free look-ups on sites that other people are paying to use, like ancestry or findmypast. Make sure your question is posted to the right board. And finally, offer help yourself whenever you can.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Genealogy and history podcasts

One of the things I love about my iPhone is that I can download podcasts to listen to whenever I'm in the mood. I've discovered some really good ones on genealogy and other aspects of social history or culture by the BBC. These are free downloads from iTunes and you can listen to them on your computer or download them to an mp3 player:

  • Digging up Your Roots covers Scottish genealogy
  • Tracing your Roots is a more general podcast covering English ancestry and stories related to English roots
  • A History of the World in 100 Objects is exactly what the title says it is! The items such as a Victorian tea set, or a suffragette-defaced penny tell us a lot about our social history and the world that some of our ancestors experienced.
  • BBC History Magazine is an enormously interesting look at a wide range of topics in history: the Black Death, the Victorian census, Viking warfare, Edwardian terrorism and Mussolini's love life - something for everyone.
Have you found any other great podcasts for family historians?