Effective Internet Genealogy

Tips for using the internet to maximize your genealogy efforts


INTRODUCTION
FOCUSING YOUR SCOPE
COORDINATING WITH OTHER RESEARCHERS
SEARCHING FOR DATA ON-LINE

INTRODUCTION

The internet is beginning to realize its overwhelmingpotential to accelerate genealogical work in two ways: locatingand reading data sources is getting easier, and it has becomeeasier to connect to other peoples' work (SourceRef.). Without leaving your home, you can now peruse selectedrecords, visit selected cemetaries and thumb through a distantcousin's files. The purpose of this page is to help give internet(and possibly genealogical) beginners a sense of direction inusing the internet for genealogical work. Here you will findreference to only the most fundamental internet resources, aswell as a few important guidelines that apply especially to usingthe internet as a genealogical tool. For more information at theworld's best collection of internet genealogy links, visit Cyndi's List. For a greatset of guidelines to ponder and work within, visit the NationalGenealogical Society's Standards.

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FOCUSING YOUR SCOPE

The internet is vast and fast. With a few clicks of your mouseon a lucky evening, you can fill your files with data enough tooverwhelm yourself and consume years of your life in sifting andsorting. Avoid overload by focusing your scope early and often.

Focus your long term interests before you start collectinginformation. That focus might be ancestral, surname, descendant,geographic, or other. Based on Latter-day Saintconvention, I decided my first long term interest was in buildinga quality tree of my ancestors, step-ancestors, and their sonsand daughters (proper and in-law). With my scope firmly in place,I discard, without vacillating, information on individualsclearly beyond that scope (cousins and non-relatives). A secondlong term interest might be to build (and maintain) a family treeof the descendants of my parents or grandparents.

Focus your short term interests to match your current tools,time, and training. A short term interest might be to do researchtasks for a distant cousin as he works on a family tree he ispublishing. Or it might be to submit my family tree to the mainon-line collections.

Enhance your sense of satisfaction and avoid data overload byfocusing your short term scope narrowly enough to give individualattention to the lives of individual families.

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COORDINATING WITH OTHER RESEARCHERS

The internet makes it easier to do team genealogy with lovedones or strangers miles away. Find other researchers and trees byusing the databases and search engines below to search for theearliest individuals you know of on your family tree (theearliest individuals will be most likely to be researched byothers):

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SEARCHING FOR DATA ON-LINE

While only fragmentary source data of some important types (census,vital records, land records, etc.) is yet available on-line, andit is still necessary to visit real libraries and cemetaries,other data (maps, gazeteers, calendars, histories, etc.) isabundantly available. Even for off-line sources, the internet canhelp surprisingly in searching for data. Internet directories,articles, search engines, and even real person look-up volunteerscan help you prepare in your home to get the most from your datagathering outings.

Visit the world's best on-line genealogical directory, Cyndi's List, and use hersearch engine to find resources for the place and time, type ofdata, or name you are researching. You will quickly get a feelfor what is available both on-line and off-line. For step-by-steptutorials, visit her beginner page.Her links will teach you the most common ways and less commonways to learn about ancestors. With the resources available ather site, you won't be likely to go unaware of potential sources.

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