Tracing Your Family Tree
on the Internet
by Barbara Renick ©Copyright 2001
The Internet provides many different types of tools to help genealogists trace their family trees. Different tools are needed in different phases of research. Genealogical research has classically been defined in four phases: the survey phase, the research phase, the evaluation phase, and the publication phase. Each time you add a new generation, surname, or location to your family tree, you go back and do a new survey phase of research.
GOAL OF THE SURVEY PHASE: To seek out and find research done by others so that a duplication of effort is avoided. This often means searching for secondary or compiled sources, rather than the more primary types of sources sought in the research phase.
Survey Phase Resources:
1. FamilySearch available online at http://familysearch.org.
2. Finding family members and also contacting them via E-fax and e-mail.
Yahoo! People Search http://people.yahoo.com/
Switchboard Searchable Telephone Directory http://www.switchboard.com/
Zip Code Lookup and Address Information at http://www.usps.gov/ncsc/
3. Search library catalogs online before going on location.
Library of Congress – LC Online Catalog http://lcweb.loc.gov/homepage/lchp.html
Los Angeles Main Public Library http://www.lapl.org/
Library of Virginia http://vsla.edu/lva/
BYU Library http://www.lib.byu.edu/newhome.html
4. Search databases and genealogical resources without having to leave home.
GenSearcher – The All-in-One Genealogy Search Page
Cyndi’s List of Databases, Search Sites, Surname Lists
5. Commercial database services (these online services allow you to search for free but charge you a membership fee to see most of the results/matches from your searches).
6. Look for Web pages about your surnames.
Cyndi's List of Surnames, Family Associations and Newsletters Index
FEEFHS Search Engine Index, item #2 http://www.feefhs.org/feefhsei.html
Rafael Prinke's Searching the List for Surnames
7. Place free queries and/or register your research interests online
USGenWeb Project http://www.usgenweb.org/
World GenWeb Project http://www.worldgenweb.org/
RootsWeb Surname List (RSL) http://www.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/rslsql.cgi
GenForum at Genealogy.com http://genforum.genealogy.com/
8. More family history books are being published than ever before thanks to computer software (with fewer excuses for producing a “fairy tale” genealogy without documentation). Much research is even being published on the World Wide Web. A search using an Internet search engine today finds nothing on the surname ZUCKNICK, but next month may turn up eleven matches.
Yahoo! http://yahoo.com/ (site specific search engine)
Infoseek Express http://express.infoseek.com/ (browser utility)
9. Find out about local, regional, county, state, national, ethnic, and religious historical and genealogical societies.
10. Subscribe to free Mail Lists on the Internet.
Genealogy Listservers, Newsgroups & Special Homepages
Liszt, the mailing list directory http://liszt.bluemarble.net/
Cyndi's List http://www.cyndislist.com/mailnews.htm
John Fuller's site http://members.aol.com/johnf14246/gen_mail.html
11. Follow Usenet newsgroups via software like NewsRover http://www.newsrover.com/.
The following Web sites tell about newsgroups.
Liszt Usenet Newsgroups Directory http://www.liszt.com/news/
MIWorld Usenet Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Princeton University's USENET Newsgroups
OF THE EVALUATION PHASE:
To evaluate what you
have found, set new goals, plan your next survey and research phases.
Evaluation Phase Resources:
1. Free mail lists from FamilySearch Internet.
Genealogy and/or Internet classes online.
Spectrum Virtual University http://www.vu.org/
Genealogy Dictionary http://www.electriciti.com/~dotts/diction.html
OneLook Dictionaries http://www.onelook.com/
4. Translation services.
travlang's Translating Dictionaries http://dictionaries.travlang.com/
5. Citing Sources from Cyndi's List http://www.cyndislist.com/citing.htm
6. Tutorials online.
7. Chat areas and online newsletters.
8. Do not believe everything you read on the Internet.
GOAL OF THE PUBLICATION PHASE: To preserve and disseminate information about your family tree. Secondarily, to prevent floods, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, or earthquakes from destroying your years of genealogical research.
Publication Phase Resources A. D.:
Today's genealogy software makes publishing your data on the Web quick and easy. Web publishing disseminates your work around the world for all to see (so long as you pay the rental fee for that Web space). "Cousins" can find, check, add to, or correct your research efforts. Update your Web pages as often as you like at no additional cost and with very little effort.
See Richard Wilson’s Home Page http://home.earthlink.net/~richardw/ for examples of what Web pages generated by different genealogy software programs can look like.
For free publishing space in a protected environment, go to http://www.myfamily.com/.