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What's Online for Genealogists
2007 Wilson-Cobb Seminar, Roswell, New Mexico
All provided web addresses and data current as of September 21, 2007.

Good overall rules of thumb:

The internet should be looked at as a “give and take” resource. If you have information that is digital, share...GEDCOM, HTML, etc.  Once you have it in a sharable format, spread the word to other name researchers/geographical, etc. What you put out should return to you magnified. Hopefully it’s not your work distorted, but alternate work or even yours enlarged. 

Privacy - Family members that are not dead need to give permission to post their information online (or anywhere else). You can download and use a GEDCOM cleaner program to automatically remove privacy information, rather than doing it all “by hand” if swapping files.  

Copyright – Fact can not be copyrighted. Anything previously written, drawn, or photographed, regarding fact or fiction is copyrighted by the original person. This is true, even if it is not marked or the copyright holder is unaware of this. If a Copyright has not been registered, it is called an implied copyright and is still right restricted.


Tools of the trade

1.   Basic Browser (i.e. Internet Explorer or Netscape)

                                       i.    Address Line - How a URL Is Put Together  

1.   HyperText Transfer Protocol (browser always provides)

2.   World Wide Web (browser sometimes provides)

3.   Base (aol, google, rootsweb, familysearch, etc.)

4.   Common Site Extensions (hostname zones) - com, edu, gov, mil, net, int, org, tv

5.   Directory (optional and/or repeat)

6.   Page with extension (.HyperText Markup Language)

7.   Additional variations (can include #name for place on particular page)

                                     ii.    Can’t find a page – it’s not always you!

1.   Sites and pages move like: (old/bad address) to (current) (old/bad address)      to - (current) 

2.   Sites and pages disappear (moving with no forwarding address or link rot)

                                    iii.    Safety & Housekeeping

1.   Viruses

a.   Do onto others…

b.   Practice safe downloading

c.    Run anti-virus and spyware programs

2.   Attachments

a.   When sending can it be sent inline?

b.   Scan for viruses before viewing

                                    iv.    General Navigation Mechanics

1.   Hyperlinks (almost always underlined)

a.   Different color and/or font

b.   Cursor turns into a hand when placed on it

2.   Search engines

a.   Yahoo (Boolean and category index/directory) – basic operators don’t work in every engine. Some can be combined, others not.

                                                                                    i.     CASE sensitive or not

                                                                                  ii.    + - this and (+) that

                                                                                 iii.    – (minus) – not including

                                                                                 iv.    "" – encloses specific phrase

                                                                                  v.    * - everything (*smith – all names ending in smith)

                                                                                 vi.    or, and (operators may be case sensitive)

                                                                               vii.    ? – wildcard (?athy – Cathy, Kathy, etc.)

                                                                              viii.    ~ - synonyms

                                                                                ix.    .. – range (1..1000)

                                                                                  x.    A word about the use of “stop” (common) words – I, the, and in search

                                                                                xi.    Advanced settings per search engine

b.   Natural Language/Question: Ask Jeeves

c.    Sorts Answers by Topic: (was

d.   text based/standard


                                                                                  ii. (ex. timmy)

1.   timmy (search within site)

2.   define:timmy

3.   allintitle:timmy

4.   intitle:timmy

5.   allintext:timmy

6.   intext:timmy

7.   phonebook: timmy Roswell

8.   inurl:timmy

9.   cache: timmy (search saved, versus live pages)

e.    META/Multi SE


                                                                                  ii. - general

f.     Genealogy search

                                                                                    i. (mytrees)



g.   One of many SE directories

h.   Genealogy Links Pages like  

2.   Email Program

Netiquette (  etc.)

a.   Always include contact info.

b.   Needs Subject, SHOUTING, tone, spell check, no flames - Don't SPAM, even if you want to (don't send to strangers).

c.    Query tips

a.   surname in CAPS

b.   5 W's – who, what, where, when, why ( and how)

c.    don’ assume

d.   Emoticons: a glossary - 

What to do?


1.   Email Lists/Newsletters/E-Zines (lurk a bit to get a feel before jumping in) - be a good net citizen

a. genealogy directory

b. general directory

c. - recommended (see also blogs)

2.   Network! Join in online to associations and research groups

a.   Federations of Genealogical Societies

b.   National Genealogical Society

c.    Association of Professional Genealogists  

3.   Specific Sites to Surf

Research/Resource - free

                                       i. – free genealogy directory – no content

                                     ii. – nearly 2 million links

                                    iii. – free part of ancestry - interwoven

                                    iv.    GenWeb – all volunteers - free



                                     v. - great free general genealogy resource

                                    vi. (LDS) Free

                                  vii.    US Bureau of Land Management

                                 viii.    Other US Government agency links

                                   ix.    Great info & links about court research


                                   xi.    Libraries/Archives, etc.

1.   USA Library of Congress

2.   USA National Archives

3.   Smithsonian Institution

4.   Allen Co. – Ft. Wayne, IN

5.   NSDAR Library

Research/Resource – “Premium”

                                  xii.    My generations Network (some overlap but rarely same original content)

1. 24,854 record collections/4,000 databases and several different subscription options. Site offers free trial and some free content. (available through the Roswell PL) highlights include:

Biographies, Histories, etc.

Newspapers & periodicals

Photos & maps

US Federal Census

Canadian Collection

Scottish Census

2. Site offers free trial.

3. (available at home with Roswell PL card and PIN) highlights include:

US Federal Censuses

Revolutionary War Info

African-American Records

Online Books

Lexis/Nexis US Serial Set


4. (subject: Genealogy) highlights include:

Obituaries & Death Notices

Historical Newspapers - Civil War Era, Black, etc. Collections


Sanborn Maps

                                xiii. (Family Tree Maker) Site offers free trial and some free content.

                                xiv. Actual photographic images – includes some federal documents. Site offers free trial and some free content. 

Your State Resources

                                  xv. - a directory



                             xviii.    rootsweb



3. State Archive Transcriptions (use links to locate data)


 Misc. General Resources

                                xix.    Assorted Information

                                  xx.    Google Books -

                                xxi.    World Catalog -

                               xxii.    Online hubs for genealogists:




                             xxiii.    Family Genealogy and Education Directory

                             xxiv.    eBay Want It Now in addition to used book stores

3.   Software

                                       i. - a directory

                                     ii. - reviews

                                    iii. - GEDCOM

                                    iv. Program looks at your genealogical file and suggest research ideas and why. Site offers free trial.

                                     v. Site offers free demo.

                                    vi. (LDS) Includes free Personal Ancestral File (alternative to GEDCOM format)

                                  vii. genealogy

                                 viii. general (mostly free trials)

                                   ix.,1874,23,00.asp general/with reviews (mostly free trials)

4.   Newsgroups/Usenet - or your own ISP (some gatewayed through mailing lists) or newsgroup through computer hierarchies soc or alt - example soc.genealogy.surnames.usa (usegroup designation – not an address)

5.   Chat Rooms - may use additional software

                                       i. - genealogy chat & IRC listings

6.   Blogs


                                     ii. – general blogs

7.   Podcasts

                                       i. - highly recommended

                                     ii. - schedule listing

                                    iii. - for techies

                                    iv. - blogs on podcasts

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