Genealogy Using the Internet
A Newbies Guide to the Net
With two genie friends, Erica Hills and Robyn Hukin, I went to the launch of a country Telecentre earlier this year to demonstrate how the internet can be a valuable research tool for genealogists. Here is a summary of our day there.
Three areas for research on the internet are:
- World Wide Web
There are some words you will hear fairly regularly in communications:
"surfing" (using the world wide web or www);
"newbie" (a new or inexperienced user);
"URL" (universal resource locator - the address of sites on the www, e.g. http://members.iinet.net.au/~perthdps/;
"ISP" (internet service provider, e.g. Telstra Bigpond);
Search Engines (places where you can conduct text and topic searches, e.g. http://www.altavista.com);
FAQ (frequently asked questions);
IRC (Internet Relay Chat);
ICQ ("I Seek You" chat sessions) and
FTP (file transfer protocol - transfer of internet sites to your computer - also downloading and uploading).
Then there are a great many "emoticons" to convey expression, including:
: ) smiley
; ) winky smiley (writer made a flirtatious remark)
: ( frowning
And short cuts to comments, eg.
ttfn (ta ta for now)
sks (some kind soul)
lol (laugh out loud)
There are several mailing lists to which you can "subscribe", depending on your interests. The subscription is usually free and subscribers carry on a specific conversation worldwide. An example is the Perth Dead Persons' Society, on which approximately six messages per day from genealogists mainly in Western Australia, are posted. Subscribers can read the message, reply to the whole group or just reply to the author. Of course they can post queries to the group, too. With the exception of surnames, always type in lower case, as upper case is considered to be shouting. To search for information and addresses of mailing lists, check http://www.rootsweb.com/~maillist/
You can email anyone with an internet address worldwide for the cost of a telephone call and usually receive a very prompt response. Depending on your connection arrangements with your ISP, you could be logged on for many hours during which you can send and receive mail; surf the net; check the newsgroups and download games and programs, log in to chat channels, and transfer your genealogical files. STD charges may be payable in country areas, but you can format your messages off-line and copy sites to disk to look at later when you're not connected. Have a virus checker running permanently, but also check disks COMING IN & GOING OUT of your system. This way you are nearly 99% sure that YOUR system is clean, and will remain clean.
You can search the collection of newsgroups for a subject at http://alabanza.com/kabacoff/Inter-Links/cgi/news.cgi. http://members.aol.com/johnf14246/internet.html is also very good as far as newsgroups and other connections on Internet.
In your research, think laterally for answers on topics, e.g. if you ancestor was a railway worker surfaceman and you would like information on what type of work he did, or if employment records exist, subscribe to a newsgroup, such as U.K. Railways and post a query there.
It is important to make your subject line descriptive and interesting, if possible. State the surname of the person searched, the area and the timeframe, eg a posting to soc.genealogy.australia+nz might read:
You can also use carbon copy options or "cut and paste" the body of the message to repeat the message elsewhere, or save to another program.
|Subject: Lookup W.A. FREEMAN Pre 1900
Searching for information on my great-grandfather, John Henry FREEMAN, thought to have died in Fremantle, W.A. pre 1900. Any information greatly appreciated.
[Then your name & internet address - you can insert this as a field signature, to save typing it each time].
World Wide Web:
Be careful to type the address exactly as given. If an error message appears and you have double-checked your input address, it may be that the site has relocated or disbanded.
Here are a few of my favourites:
Western Australian Genealogical Society Inc.
Perth Dead Persons' Society
Australian Genealogy Links
Cyndi's List (25,000 Ozzie links. Cyndi's main list gives genie links worldwide)
Graham Jaunay's Web Site
Australian Family Tree Connections
Genealogy - An Armchair Hobby
Tall Trees Family History
and of course my own home-page:
U.K. & IRELAND
Genuki Resources by County
ENGLISH SOURCES (*+ WALES):
St Catherine's Marriage Index (selected transcriptions)
Public Record Office
Genealogy Helplist United Kingdom
National Archives of Ireland Transportation Records
A place to leave your Irish research names
Ireland, Townland Database
Irish Genealogy Home Page:
General Register Office for Scotland
Scottish Reference Information:
Scotland Lookup Exchange
Glasgow Post Office Directory 1787
Scotland, Statistical Accounts (Perthshire parishes, reached through Tom Paterson's homepage)
Legacy Family History Program
Brothers' Keeper Genealogy Program
Family Tree Maker's Site
Who Where Email Address Search
Macbeth Genealogical Services (including books)
Find an Australian Library
Yahoo United Kingdom Search (geographical searches)
Gazateer for Australia
If you are new to genealogy, you might like to check these sites
Getting Started in Genealogy & Family History by Brian Randell
Twenty Ways to Avoid Genealogical Grief
You may also like to subscribe to on-line lessons, such as Introduction to Online Genealogy. The cost is free or very minimal and some URLs are http://www.vu.org/subscribe.html and http://www.rootsweb.com/~genclass/index.html
Many people consider having a home page, so that their surname interests can be accessed worldwide, just like reading the Genealogical Research Directory. With most ISPs, there is an allowance of a great amount of free space and some commercial sites offer web-space carrying a small advertisement. You can also upload your photographs, your stories, your favourite sites and all your data for others to easily access.
I hope you enjoy using the internet in your family history research. Most genealogical societies now have web addresses and their magazines usually feature newly discovered www addresses. The Aberdeen and NE Scotland FHS has a terrific home page as do a few of the other Scottish FHS. This information is "just to get you started". Further reading: Genealogy Online - Researching Your Roots, Web Edition" by Elizabeth Powell Crowe (http://www.computing.mcgraw-hill.com).