RootsWeb's Guide to Tracing Family Trees

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RootsWeb's Guide to Tracing Family Trees

ANNOUNCEMENTS FROM THE CEO, by Robert R. Tillman

o REFLECTIONS OF A NEWBIE. If you are not a RootsWeb newbie, 
then you may wish to skip what follows. After almost seven 
months as CEO at RootsWeb, I would like to share with other
newbies some lessons that I have learned.

1. Only a small fraction of genealogy-related information is on 
the Web. Most is in the form of books, documents (many hand
written), photographs, microfilm and microfiche held by tens of
thousands of libraries, genealogy societies, churches, local, 
state and national government archives, and other organizations.
Much of the best information is located in the attics, file 
cabinets, book shelves and computers of millions of individual 
genealogists. If you are frustrated in searching the Web for 
genealogy information on the Web, there is good reason. Most of
what you are looking for is not yet there.

2. The quickest way to make progress in genealogical research is
to connect with someone who is further along or is more 
experienced than you are. I recently asked my father to document 
as much as he could remember about his family history. He 
surprised me by saying that he had just received from a distant 
relation a family tree printout containing details on 150 
individuals in our line going back to 1850. This information 
likely will save me many weeks or months of research.

3. The primary purpose and function of RootsWeb is to connect 
people so that they can help each other and share genealogical
research. Most resources on RootsWeb are designed to facilitate 
such connections. Genealogy on RootsWeb is a vast cooperative 
research project, possibly the largest group software 
application in existence. The hundreds of gigabytes of data on 
RootsWeb are a byproduct of millions of online genealogists 
sharing research.

4. The best ways for you to connect to others on RootsWeb are 
to ask for help, make it easy for others to find you, and give 
others help.

Below are my suggestions for connecting to others on RootsWeb. 
All features cited below are free.

  o Join a mailing list at https://sites.rootsweb.com/~maillist/. 
A mailing list is simply the e-mail party line. Every e-mail 
that a list subscriber sends to the list is distributed to all 
other list subscribers. There are more than 17,000 genealogy-
related mailing lists on RootsWeb divided by surname, U.S. 
county and state, country, ethnic group, and topic. Subscribing
to a mailing list is one of the best ways of connecting to 
people who share your interests. If you do not find a mailing 
list covering your topic of interest, start one at
http://resources.rootsweb.com/surnames/adoptrequest.html

  o Post a message to a GenConnect message board at
http://cgi.rootsweb.com/~genbbs/. A message board is a 
computerized version of the old-fashioned bulletin board. There 
are more than 140,000 message boards on RootsWeb related to 
surnames, locations, and topics. By posting a message to the 
appropriate message board, you create a record through which
other researchers can find you. If you do not find a message 
board covering your topic of interest, start one at
http://resources.rootsweb.com/surnames/adoptrequest.html.


  o Post your family surnames on the RootsWeb Surname List (RSL)
at http://rsl.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/rslsql.cgi. The RSL is a
registry of more than 788,000 surname entries that have been 
submitted by more than 165,000 online genealogists. Associated 
with each surname are dates, locations, and information about 
how to contact the person who submitted the surname. The RSL is 
one of the primary tools on RootsWeb that online genealogists 
use to contact each other.

  o Upload your family tree (GEDCOM file) to the RootsWeb 
WorldConnect Project at 
http://worldconnect.genealogy.rootsweb.com/
The RootsWeb WorldConnect Project is a database of family trees 
submitted by thousands of RootsWeb researchers currently 
containing more than 14 million ancestor names. With your family 
tree posted here, other researchers with common ancestors can 
find you.

  o Add Post-ems to the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) at
http://ssdi.genealogy.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/ssdi.cgi and to 
the RootsWeb WorldConnect Project at
http://worldconnect.genealogy.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi
A Post-em is the electronic equivalent of a yellow sticky note. 
It allows you to attach your email address, a link to another 
Web address or other information to the record of any individual
in these two databases. Search for your ancestors and leave your
calling card attached to their names.

  o Build your own genealogy Web site on RootsWeb. Request free 
unlimited Web space on RootsWeb at 
http://accounts.rootsweb.com/
RootsWeb hosts more than 11,000 Web sites, most related to 
genealogy. Building a basic Web site is not as difficult as you 
might imagine. Millions of people have done it. You can get 
help from other RootsWeb Webmasters on the mailing lists and 
message boards devoted to this subject on RootsWeb.

  o Add a link to your Web site to RootsLink at
http://resources.rootsweb.com/~rootslink/search.html. 
RootsLink is RootsWeb's Web address registry, where users can 
add and categorize a genealogy link from anywhere on the Web. 
Currently, there more than 4,000 links on RootsLink.

  o Link your Web site to the relevant surname, county, state, 
and/or country resource cluster at 
http://resources.rootsweb.com/utilities/addsite.html
Thereafter, a link to your Web site will appear at the top of 
whatever surname, county and/or state resource cluster(s) you 
have chosen. Users specifically interested in the information on
your Web site will see this link whenever they use the RootsWeb 
surname resources at http://resources.rootsweb.com/USA/
This feature is ONLY available for Web sites located at RootsWeb.

  o Volunteer. RootsWeb hosts many of the largest volunteer 
genealogy projects on the Web. Volunteers locate, transcribe, 
and publish genealogical data and help new users. Through this 
work they meet other genealogists with similar interests. 
Information on volunteer opportunities can be found at:

FREE BIRTH, MARRIAGE AND DEATH INDEX (ENGLAND AND WALES)
  http://freebmd.rootsweb.com/Vol_instructions.html
MESSAGE BOARD/MAILING LIST ADOPTION
  http://resources.rootsweb.com/USA/adoptrequest.html.
  http://resources.rootsweb.com/surnames/adoptrequest.html
IMMIGRANT SHIPS TRANSCRIBERS GUILD
  http://istg.rootsweb.com/guild/application.html
OBITUARY DAILY TIMES
  https://sites.rootsweb.com/~obituary/#con
USGENWEB PROJECT
  http://www.usgenweb.org/volunteers/volunteers.html
USGENWEB CENSUS PROJECT
  http://www.usgenweb.org/census/
USGENWEB TOMBSTONE TRANSCRIPTION PROJECT
  https://sites.rootsweb.com/~cemetery/memor_2.html#you
USGENWEB ARCHIVES
  https://sites.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/timetodo.htm
USGENWEB ARCHIVES CENSUS PROJECT
  https://sites.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/census/volunteer.htm
USGENWEB ARCHIVES PENSIONS PROJECT
  https://sites.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/pensions/#WAR
USGENWEB ARCHIVES DIGITAL MAPS PROJECT
  https://sites.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/maps/contrib.htm
WORLDGENWEB
  http://worldgenweb.org/faq.html

o Search all of RootsWeb. (See the 12/26/99 issue of RootsWeb 
Review at ftp://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/review/19991229.txt for 
an example, usable as a research template, of searching all 
major RootsWeb databases. See the 1/5/00 issue of RootsWeb 
Review at ftp://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/review/20000105.txt for a
detailed explanation of how to search the RootsWeb Mailing List 
Archives.) Contact others with common interests who have taken 
the steps suggested above to make themselves easy to find.

  o Finally, keep in mind that a large part of the fun of 
genealogy is the relationships you develop with people along the
way. Be kind, courteous, helpful, slow to take offense, quick to
forgive, and you will be rewarded.


Written by Robert R. Tillman.
Previously published by RootsWeb.com, Inc.,
RootsWeb Review: RootsWeb's Genealogy News,
Vol. 3, No. 2, 12 January 2000.
RootsWeb

o FIND UNTOLD RICHES IN THE MAILING LIST ARCHIVES. Last week, we
systematically searched RootsWeb for the surname Mittelstadt. 
(You can find this very helpful template for searching all major 
RootsWeb resources in the December 29, 1999 issue of RootsWeb 
Review, located in the RootsWeb Review Archives as 19991229.txt
at ftp://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/review/.) One of the areas that 
requires a more detailed explanation is how to search the 
Mailing List Archives.


Currently, there exist messages in the Mailing List Archives 
7.7 million e-mails from RootsWeb's 15,000+ archived mailing 
lists. Some of these messages date back to 1987. Many messages, 
even those a decade old, contain vital genealogical information.
There are currently two ways to search these messages.



The Mailing List Threaded Archives contains 2.2 million of the 
most recent e-mail messages from all of RootsWeb's archived 
mailing lists. One can search all of these messages with a
single search at https://lists.rootsweb.com/hyperkitty/search.html 



The Interactive Search of Mailing Lists provides access to all 
7.7 million e-mail messages in the Mailing List Archives; 
however, the search process is more labor intensive. One must 
perform a separate search for each mailing list and for each 
year that such mailing list is archived. In addition, one must 
first know the name of the mailing list that one wishes to 
search. All genealogy-related mailing lists on RootsWeb are 
located at https://sites.rootsweb.com/~maillist/. In addition to 
surname related lists there are regional, country, state, 
county, ethnic group, and topic-related lists. Once a list is 
located, the user can search it one year at a time at
https://mailinglists.rootsweb.com/listindexes/. Do not 
forget to search all the years for which the list has been 
archived.



When choosing a promising list to search, it pays to be creative
and thorough. When looking for a particular ancestor, check out 
not only surname-related lists but also lists that relate to 
country of origin, places of habitation, migration routes, 
ethnic group, UseNet NewsGroup topics, and general interest 
topics (such as the Roots-L list at
http://searches.rootsweb.com/roots-l.html). Wonderful gems 
turn up in the most unlikely places. Nevertheless, please 
remember that one must often mine a great deal of ore in order 
to find a diamond. Good luck and good hunting!
Written by Robert R. Tillman.
Previously published by RootsWeb.com, Inc.,
RootsWeb Review: RootsWeb's Genealogy News,
Vol. 3, No. 1, 5 January 2000.
RootsWeb: https://sites.rootsweb.com/

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