Just like business people do, networking can be a great method for other people to know about you and possibly assist you. So it is with doing genealogical research. There could be a distance cousin out there, looking up some of the same ancestors you are searching. By sharing what each has, it is a win-win situation. Using message boards is a great method to network.
Three of the main message boards are Ancestry.com; Rootsweb.com and Genealogy.com. Register free with each selecting a name to use. Start by reviewing what is already posted on these sites for surnames you are interested in. Do not overlook any names listed even if you don’t recognize the given name, it could be an undiscovered relative. Plus not just family names are on the message boards, but also topics such as states / counties / other countries; wars, businesses, historical events, military, immigration, religion, etc. With the Rootsweb.com message board, you can type in a keyword or topic of your own choice. By checking other topics especially hometowns or home counties and placing a specific request, such as an obituary, volunteers from those counties look over these boards to see where they can help.
If you do find someone’s post of one of your ancestors, do reply back to them with what you have (share) and any related questions. Do keep in mind all posts are readable, but those that are 8 to 10 years old, that person might not be doing genealogy any longer, so it no reply, don’t give up. Try another.
To post your own inquires, start with one individual or family branch. Write one family research query every one or two weeks on sites like Ancestry.com; Rootsweb.com and Genealogy.com. Keep your question simple, specific and to the point. This will increase the likelihood that someone will read it, recognize similarities in their family, and respond. Include necessary names, hometown or state and approximate dates. If you have a question where you have conflicting information such as a birth date, write that and ask for assistance. People will reply back to the message board, so do not give out your mailing address or phone number.
Some of the items you might ask about: B-M-D dates of individuals, obituaries, headstones, any info in a family Bible, photographs, coats of arms, occupations, immigration dates, ports of entry, family businesses, hometown, etc.
Check frequently each message to see if anyone responded. Answer them right away and always thank them. Using message boards is a way for everyone to find their roots together.
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