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online message boards
and the clues they will help you uncover

by Deborah K. Millemaci
(return to genealogy)

I receive online genealogy newsletters from some of the top genealogy sites on the internet: , Roostweb, and Family Tree magazine (just to name a few). They all are excellent in their content, but the current issue of Family Tree (January 22, 2004) has a good article by Nancy Hendrickson titled: �New Year, New Queries.�

got a genealogy question?
Post your question to Deborina in's genealogy forum. more...
Many of us who use online messageboards may not realize the important connections we can make when searching for family information. I�m almost afraid to tell you how many messageboards I susbcribe to... I joined four more a couple of days ago! While I am still researching my father�s side of the family, my mother�s side has been taking more of my time due to the pending reconstruction of my great-grandmother�s home in Kentucky.

There is a lot of information to be collected, yet obtaining some of it has been difficult. For example, several of my male ancestors were coal miners and I was unable to find information I needed when doing a general search. Some family members stated that one of my uncles died as a result of a coal mining accident at a young age but we have been unable to confirm this so far. Not one to give up, I decided I would try to see if there �might� be an online messageboard for Eastern KY coal miners/mines. Sure enough I found several websites and messageboards and I posted several queries - hopefully I will receive encouraging replies.

Tips & Tricks
I have a couple of suggestions that might help you regarding online messageboards.

  • Save it.Consider �bookmarking� your list of messageboards in its own folder for easy retrieval. Also, sometimes your bookmarked/favorite sites �all look the same� (ie. the top of the page may say - oh - something like �Netscape� etc.) I found I can �edit� my bookmarks with a word or two that will reflect a certain geographical area or topic I am researching.
  • Sign-up for message alerts or digests.When selecting messageboards remember you have the option of either posting directly from the website or you can sign up for notifications of new postings or replies to your queries. Normally with the messageboards I belong to, they will send me a �digest� summary of any new postings or replies. Digest mode is great because all messages are contained in one email message and they don�t clutter up your mailbox.
  • Follow posting etiquette.Nancy�s article includes an informational website presented by Gary Lee Phillips on what I call �posting etiquette.� Mr. Phillips provides excellent suggestions on the right and wrong ways to post messages that many of us take for granted. It is important to remember who will be reading your message so you can appropriately post your questions, information, and replies.
  • Check these out. Her article concludes by listing several excellent websites for the reader to check out:
    • The Rootsweb/Ancestry forums are perhaps the most popular and their messageboards cover almost every topic imaginable for the genealogy researcher. (They my personal favorites! :-)
    • I would like to add the Genealogy Forums at -
You�ll discover these genealogy messageboards will become fundamental resources in your family research. You never know what connections you'lll make!

©Deborah K. Millemaci - February 2004
No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the author.


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