Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tuesday's Tip - Use Genealogy Message Boards to Find Distant Cousins

This week's Tuesday's Tip is:  Find distant cousins (those with your ancestors!) on genealogy Message Boards.

Online Message Boards were the genealogy social media networks in the 1990s and early 2000s to post queries, and to take part in helpful discussions and collaboration.  They have not gone away, but the volume of posts has significantly reduced over time.  

What are Message Boards?  They are:

*  an online collection of queries from genealogists and family historians, and responses to them from other genealogists.  

*  websites that registered users can freely participate in.

*  Surname, Locality and Topic boards available online.  Thousands of them.

*  searchable in the whole collection, or on specific boards, or in a search engine like Google or Mocavo.

*  an excellent way to find distant cousins that may have more data than you do, or you may be able to help them.

* a way to contact the submitter by email (assuming the email address is still valid).

The two largest Genealogy Message Boards systems are found at:

1)  Rootsweb/Ancestry Message Boards -- http://boards.rootsweb.com/ There are over 198,000 message boards on this system with over 23 million messages.  There is an online tutorial of how to use this message board system at www.LearnWebSkills.com.

On the screen above, you can search for all mentions of keywords in all of the message boards, or you can search for a message board on a specific topic (surnames, locations or topics).  You can read the message boards without registering, but you need to have a free registration (tied to your Ancestry.com account if you have one) in order to write messages.  

2)  Genforum Message Boards -- http://genforum.genealogy.com I don't have a count of message boards for this system:

You can put keywords into the Forum Finder field on the screen above, or look for surname, locality and topic boards using the links provided.

There are many other, smaller, Message Board systems.  You can find a list of them on Cyndi's List at http://www.cyndislist.com/queries/general/.  

In addition, check out:

*  Cousin Connect -- www.CousinConnect.com There is no count of boards and messages here.

*  RootsChat -- www.rootschat.com.  This is a United Kingdom based genealogy message board system. with over 4.5 million posts.

*  The www.USGenWeb.org site had message boards attached to many county and state web pages.  Some of them are still available to browse and search.  

*  Facebook and Google+ have many locality and topic group pages for queries and collaboration also.  They deserve a separate Tuesday's Tip. 

The point is that many other researchers may have plowed the same ancestral ground that you are scratching around in, and you may be able to find useful information, and distant cousins, by searching on Message Boards for your surnames and localities. 

I make it a point every January to go into both large Message Board systems and check for posts from the past year (you can select the time frame using the Advanced Search link). 

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2014/04/tuesdays-tip-use-genealogy-message.html

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

1 comment:

Jacqi Stevens said...

Randy, I heartily agree! Online forums are still a helpful tool in the research toolbox. Whenever I teach a class on online resources, I include a mention of these, even though some may view them as genealogical dinosaurs. A forum can only be as useful as we (as a community of researchers) make it, and I'm campaigning to keep this utility!

While I've yet to find that sought-after researching soulmate distant cousin, I have benefited from the many "some kind soul" responders who have answered my questions and pointed me in the right direction.

Every time I delve into a new territory--a county or country with which I'm (so far) unfamiliar--posting a query to ask locals to direct me to online resources has been so helpful. That's the only way I could have found digitized newspapers out west in Canada, for instance--a place I had never researched before. Or online cemetery listings for a specific region. Or a local library with a grand collection of archived material. Sometimes, only the local researchers know about such resources. But they're glad to tell anyone who asks!

When arriving in new research territory, it never hurts to ask the locals for directions. It certainly has done me a world of good in Rootsweb and GenForum.