Rootsweb.com offers more than the handy search engine to its site discussed in Part VI. Another of its popular services are mailing lists or email discussion lists for individuals with common family research interests.
Genealogy information on the Web continues to grow, much of it available through search tools. But there’s a wealth of family information held in private family records offline. The mailing list approach can help you connect with people who may have just the pieces of family history that you need.
Rootsweb.com offers more than 30,000 mailing lists or email discussion lists. They are arranged in four categories: surnames, U.S. states, international and other. With this number of lists, you have a good chance of finding several that are relevant to your research interests. You will be able to post queries and possibily connect with others researching your surname or ancestors.
For example, some of my ancestors are from northern Germany. By checking the list for Germany, I found that there is a list for Schleswig-Holstein, one of my specific ancestral home areas. I joined that list and have made some useful contacts.
Each list offers the opportunity to search or browse previous messages, on a year by year basis. The search and browse links are at the bottom of each list’s description and sign-up page.
The year-by-year search can be tedious, but a new archives search engine of the full archives for all lists, in beta status, in now available. This is worth a try as others may have posted just the information you need. Or you’ll find new contacts.
Before signing up for email discussion lists or groups, you might want to set up a Web-based email address for use just for this purpose. Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft and others offer this handy service. You’ll keep your genealogy emails in one email box, and protect your personal email address.
In addition to posting queries, you can share information you have found to help others. You likely want to join just a few lists at a time, to keep your email from overflowing — many of these are very active. Good searching!
This is one in a series of genealogy and family history research ideas to help you find your family and ancestors for modest or no cost.