Discovering Cultural Diversity
on the Internet
by Barbara Renick ©Copyright 2002
Sooner or later, most genealogists trace their family trees beyond
the boundaries of their research experience. Learning to do research
in a new geographic area and/or culture means that some things stay the same (fundamental principles of research) and some things will be different.
Challenges faced include:
|The legal and cultural systems that created records (history).|
|The geopolitical shifts in boundaries and jurisdictions.|
|The types of records created.|
|The typical time period for each type of record created.|
|The availability of records for that time period and location.|
|The languages and dialects of the record keepers.|
|The script/handwriting used by the record keepers.|
|The cryptic symbols often used in many types of records.|
|The tools/finding aids specific to that locality, record type, and time period.|
Audio tapes of lectures given at regional and national genealogical conferences in years past are available at the AudioTapes.com Web site (www.audiotapes.com). These are searchable by author, title, or conference name.
The FamilySearch Internet Web site has five areas of significant help for genealogists learning to do research in a new geographic area and/or culture.
|Research Helps (www.familysearch.org > SEARCH > Research Helps)|
|Research Guidance (www.familysearch.org > SEARCH > Research Guidance)|
|Web Sites directory (www.familysearch.org > SEARCH > Web Sites)|
|Family History Library Catalog (online version) (www.familysearch.org > LIBRARY > Family History Library Catalog)|
|Glossary (www.familysearch.org > Glossary)|
Despite the vastness of the help available at the FamilySearch Internet Web site, no one site on the Internet has “everything.” Examples:
|GENUKI vs. British Isles GenWeb Project
|GenWeb Projects vs. WebRings
|Cyndi’s List vs. Web Sites directory at FamilySearch
|HMC’s ARCHON (http://www.hmc.gov.uk/archon/archon.htm)|
|Indigenous Peoples of the World (anthropology) Web Sites|
|Jewish Genealogy (http://www.jewishgen.org/)|
Some of the best resources are found in unlikely or less likely locations.
|Baltimore County [MD] Genealogical Society’s ethnic
|Mr. Tom Wodzinski (in Canberra, Australia) has Polish
|Rafael T. Prinke’s Web site (http://main.amu.edu.pl/~rafalp/) in Poland|
Many of these less likely online resources can be found via search engines.
|Internet Search Engines
|There are also geographic/language specific search
|Remember to search outside the lines.
Many online resources can be found via Web Portals. The Webopedia Web site (http://www.webopedia.com/) defines a Web Portal as: “A Web site or service that offers a broad array of resources and services such as e-mail, forums, search engines, and on-line shopping malls. The first Web portals were online services, such as AOL, that provided access to the Web, but by now most of the traditional search engines have transformed themselves into Web portals to attract and keep a larger audience.”
|The Library of Congress has lists of links in its “Portals to the World” (http://www.loc.gov/rr/international/portals.html)|
|BUBL Information Service (http://bubl.ac.uk/)
has several lists that are genealogically useful including:
Tutorials and resources posted at archive, library, university, and institutional Web sites are often overlooked.
|National Archives and Records Administration>Research Room>Reference at Your Desk>Genealogy (http://www.nara.gov/alic/rayd/genealog.html)|
|A2A Database (http://www.a2a.pro.gov.uk/) “The English strand in the UK archives network” with a catalog of a variety of archives all over England|
|Finland & Finnish-American Web Resources and Sites (http://alexia.lis.uiuc.edu/~cook/usa.htm)|
|The Amherst Center for Russian Culture (http://www.amherst.edu/~acrc/)|
|NIDS information from ProQuest (http://www.proquest.co.uk/products/)|
|Volksbund Deutsche (http://www.volksbund.de/)|
|North Carolina ECHO (Exploring Cultural Heritage Online) (http://www.ncecho.org/)|
Language aids are plentiful online:
|Babel Fish at AltaVista (http://world.altavista.com/)|