TSGS Cruiser Blog

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Research Tips

Optimizing the Internet for the Genealogical Researcher

I have been using the Internet for genealogical research since 1995... a relatively short time in my tenure of over 50 years of researching my family. However, on the Internet, it is a significant time span. I have explored all sorts of different “new” ideas of getting all sorts of people and/or data together. Right away, in 1996, I (along with about a thousand others) volunteered to be a county coordinator for the USGenWeb Project that concentrated on each individual county in the USA as a method of researching genealogy by location... common families, migrations, lifestyles, etc. Each county holds the legal records and even the legends of your family's journey in that county. We already had “bulletin” type email boards where we could interact with others interested in a location, a surname or even a surname in a specific location. Some of the most significant bulletin boards are RootsWeb.com, Genealogy.com and Ancestry.com. Other ways to interact with family and associates is through blogs, Twitter, YouTube and more.

A similar site, but more specific to a particular family, was developed - known as MyFamily.com, which is a private password protected site that require members be invited to participate. This is great for a specific family or inter-related families to get together to share current events, photos, family lore, genealogy, or team up to go back further in their genealogical research. This site has a small annual fee to maintain it. It is an excellent means of storing & sharing family data. Each family and its members determine how it will interact by posting items in various categories: photos, news, history, file cabinet, recipes, etc.

Not too long ago some other genealogical Internet ideas popped up. These are interactive family trees, where members post, counter post and add information to each others ancestry. Two of these are WeRelate and Geni. Geni is new to me, but WeRelate has some nice features to post notes and documentation. Like anything that you ever uncover in your research... you need to verify everything to ensure that it meets a high standard of validity.

Now comes yet another Internet idea known as Face Book (FB) that utilizes other ideas of mass communications like YouTube, iLike, all sorts of applications & others. FB allows you to set-up your site by recruiting “friends” in your profile. As often as you wish you post your status on your “profile” or “wall” for all of your FB friends to see and possibly add comments. FB becomes an excellent resource to keep up with family, friends & associates that you have known throughout your life. It is great for me to have a place on the Internet that I can briefly chat, post comments, upload family albums of events and just old photos or relay news with all sorts of “lost” cousins, friends and old associates from previous relationships. I have a lot of family members on my FB from sister to nephews, son, 1st, 2nd, 3rd (& more distant) cousins that post little things (along with major events) that are happening in their lives... it is a great way to keep up with your family in these busy days. They also upload photos of them and their friends & family.

Other than just relaying some information about the Internet, I have a purpose behind this discussion. FB, WeRelate, the bulletin boards, USGenWeb can all be used to work together to enhance your genealogical contacts and find cousins that have interest in the family history that just might be willing to work as a team on sites like MyFamily.com to share your knowledge of the family's history and you might be able to find a few cousins that will take DNA tests to further make connections or prove relationships. This is a better method to learning your history than just tracking down databases that may not even pertain to your family. Check these avenues of research out to see if you can optimize your genealogical endeavors on the Internet.

- Submitted by JGWest

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