Randy: "Have you searched the message boards and mailing lists for the surname and the localities?"
Colleague: "Where do I find message boards and mailing lists?"
Randy: "Message boards are Online at http://boards.rootsweb.com and and http://genforum.genealogy.com" and mailing list archives are at http://lists.rootsweb.com/.
Colleague: "That's funny, I never heard of these sites."
Randy: "Arrggghhhh. These should be some of the first places to look online for information about surnames and localities. You may find distant cousins quickly there, or other researchers with the same brick walls that you have."
So let's take a look at the Rootsweb Message Boards. There are over 161,000 message boards on this system, with over 17 million individual messages. This is a truly amazing system. There are posts on these message boards that date back to the late 1990s. This was a "social network" and "collaboration" system before we knew what those terms meant.
You can search these message boards and read the messages for free without registering. If you want to answer an existing post or create a new one, you will have to register with Rootsweb. If you have an Ancestry.com registration, you can use that. Again - it is FREE to use.
The starting page for the Rootsweb Message Boards is at http://boards.rootsweb.com/:
In the screen above, you can see that I have some "favorite" message boards - 20 of them - that I can check easily using the links shown on the list. The rest of the screen is shown below:
In the screen above, there is a search box for "Search the Boards" for searching all 161,000 boards using a surname or a keyword (this may result in many matches!). There is also a search box for "Find a Board." If you start typing a surname or a locality, the site will provide a list as shown below - I started typing "dill" and saw:
I could have picked any of those names and gone right to the message board for the specific surname.
I started entering "san diego" into that search box and after three letters saw:
On the second screen above, you can see that there are categories for "Surnames" (with an alpha list of letters), "Localities Categories" (where you can pick a region and then a country and county), and "Topics Catagories" (which includes Genealogy software, Research Resources and other topics). A researcher can find information about almost any topic or locality using these links.
We'll start there in the next post.