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.

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