Whether you're a novice, professional researcher, or just want to share a great find with others, genealogical message boards can help you. Message boards serve as a medium to connect the genealogical community and are the preferred method of communication for many family historians. Following a few simple techniques will increase your query's effectiveness and likeliness of locating relatives.
Include Detailed Facts
Always be as factual as possible in the information you share. Vague queries are not as likely to attract the attention of serious researchers. You should include all known vital information (birth, marriage, and death) along with corresponding place names.
If there is a title bar for the surnames of interest, include all those that are pertinent to the query. This will attract more genealogists towards your message and may convince them to actually read it!
Create Descriptive Titles
Many genealogists scan through the messages in a forum. If you have specific keywords in your title, this will grab their attention. These keywords should include: (1) complete names, (2) counties and states of residence, and (3) specific time periods.
Correctly Position Queries
Genealogists must select the forum categories most likely to return results. For example, forums exist covering entire counties, states, and countries. In addition, forums are available for specific surnames and other topics such as adoption and lost family and friends. Placing entries under surname and county categories are usually the best locations.
Effectively Search Message Boards
When searching a common surname message board, like Adams, make sure to utilize the forum search engine if available. Instead of searching through thousands of queries, this will enable you to search for keywords, such as county place names, which will narrow the parameters of your search.
Update Changes in Email Address
People switch email addresses often. For message boards you visit frequently, it is a good idea to drop a simple message stating your new email address. This will help future researchers successfully contact you.
Popular Genealogical Message Boards
Two of the most popular US message boards are Ancestry.com and Genealogy.com. Investing time in placing queries on these boards often pays huge dividends. Additional forums covering specific counties can be located through USGenWeb.com and CyndisList.com.
Online message boards have largely replaced old-fashioned methods of finding related genealogists through snail mail and queries in genealogical quarterlies. Professional genealogists are acutely aware of message boards' value and always search them for US ancestry. Principally through this medium, the author has found relatives interested in every one of his pre-Civil War US families. Other genealogists are anxious to help and utilizing these techniques will increase your chances of success in coordinating research efforts with them. Don't forget the Golden Rule and extend help to others as well!
Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2004.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.
*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.
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