Tips for Genealogy Research on the Internet

What is on this page:  Search Engines, Family Search and the Mormon Church, e-mail lists, Cyndi's List, Rootsweb and Ancestry Sites, Facts ETC!
(this is very much a work in progress - any suggestions are welcome)

Search Engines
Use a search engine - like and check out occurences of the surname you are looking up - or be specific and look up a specific name or look up the geographical area you are interested in.  There are lots of other search engines too - like lycos, yahoo, etc.  By spending time looking through the "hits" in these search engines you can also find many family tree websites that may well mention your family - you will be amazed!!! Another good search engine is      back to the top

Family Search and the Mormon Church
Use the site managed by the Mormon Church and check out the names you are looking up - it is a good starting place for finding out where some of your ancestors may have been born, married or buried.  This site must only be used as a guide because many submissions to it are from people that may not have checked out all their sources.  Also on this site you can get a FREE program called Personal Ancestral File to keep all your family history information - including photos, and videos.

There is also a great deal of how to look up stuff on this site and history of various areas - so look around the whole site when you have a chance.  back to the top

e-mail Lists
Join an e-mail list.  What is an e-mail list? - it is a place for people to share information, ask questions, and become friends all via e-mails.

A good place to look for them is John Fuller's site.  John keeps sites on his list through various e-mail places such as Rootsweb.  There are Surname lists, ship lists, county lists, state lists - you name it there are probably thousands available.

On Rootsweb e-mail lists you can choose to be in list or digest mode - If it is a busy list it may be better to be in digest mode - you get a number of e-mails all at once and then you can just scan the subject line to see if there is one you are interested in.   I personally like list form because some of the e-mails don't have good subject lines and I feel I could be missing out on good information but I do end up with a lot of e-mails each day to look through.

When you write into an e-mail list it is usually called "posting".  Tips for posting queries include:
1.  Write surnames in CAPITALS. 
2.  Type a clear subject line - those receiving digest form only look at that not the message. 
3.  Be specific when asking questions if you can - also if you already have information from a census or birth certificate and you are looking for other pieces of info be clear about that too.  There is no point in someone looking up your person or family on a census if it has already been done.  
4.  A really important thing to do is: if someone answers you and especially if he/she gives you some information - PLEASE thank them - at least on the list if not privately.  Many people will refuse to look up more for you if you don't say thank-you.  Some people do a wide thank-you on the list if there have been a number of responses - but it is better to do private thank-yous.

I have had a great deal of success with lists and found many contacts and quite a few cousins.    back to the top

Cyndi's List
This is a wonderful site for finding other websites.  Go to and due a search for your surname, or area of interest - maybe a ship your ancestors travelled on or an area they lived in.   Chances are there will be something there.  Cyndi also has lots of other information on the site like how-to's including how to build a family website.   E-mail lists are listed on Cyndi's site as well.   back to the top

Rootsweb and Ancestry Sites and are both excellent sites for doing research, some may cost money on the Ancestry site - but there is a lot available for free.  You can simply type in a surname or even a full name and get a number of "hits".  One major possibility of hit is a Message Board for your surname - check those out you may find some "cousins".
Be aware if you get an ad from for a 14 day free trial - BEWARE - you have to give a credit card number and the toll-free number to cancel does not work from Canada!   back to the top

What is a Third cousin Twice Removed??   back to the top