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Email As A Research Tool

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Email can be a wonderful research tool for genealogists. Most younger people and many older ones are getting email addresses. Collecting the email addresses of those with common research goals can help you connect to vast quanities of otherwise unavailable information.

Wikitree is a database with contact information

Wikitree.com has a large global online tree. Each profile has at least one profile manager. You can use the interneal email system of wiktree to communicate with the Profile Manager, and even ask to be added to the trusted list. Once you are on the trusted list, you can then collaborate on building the profile together, as you will be able to see their real email in the Privacy section of the profile.

The researcher who creates the profile posts an image of their email address automatically, and a lot can be learned by writing to the author of that branch of your family tree. This is a good way to help find cousins with email addresses. Writing to people with the same last name can often put one in touch with distant cousins who are willing to share research.

If the tree is especially well documented, as many on wikitree are, valuable information can be gained because the person posting the information may have other data to not available online. Some genealogists will scan and email to you tems such as copies of family photos and documents. These reseearchers also may be willing to give online cousins the names of more recent generations who are too young to have their information posted onine safely. I have even received entire family trees from people whose family married into one of my families, or whom are fourth or fifth cousins that I met online.

Social Media as Source of Emails

You can also ask the folks who chat with on social media what their email address is. This is especially helpful if you are chatting with someone in a genealogy group.

Listservs and Message Boards

Finding cousins with email addresses is also made easier by joining a listserv of people searching for a common surname. People will post messages about their research, and their information can be compared with known information on the same families. Learn how to subscribe to these types of lists. If you google for lists that might interest you, each group should tell you how to subscribe.

Online Message Boards

Some sites offer message boards that are only online, like G2G (Genealogist to Genealogist) Forum on wikitree or Genealogy Forum or Ancestry. Use a search engine to find these groups by putting in the surname you want and other words like "listserv" or "message board". Many web-based groups will let you post a reply directly on the webpage to respond. They are also available for reading online, so that you don't have download 100 messages a day for one surname should you belooking for Smiths, Jones, Driscolls, Browns, Patels, or any other very common surname. These message boards are great for posting queries too, and many are searchable using google and your surname of interest.

Locality message boards and lists

Groups and message boards are also availabe for locaities. If you have a large number of people to look for in a certain area, these boards help you meet people who live there. There are a large number of these and you can respond to emails from folks who are searching for the same name in the same area, or who know more about a certain timeperiod in the history of the area. You can meet those who are experienced researchers for that area, belong to the local genealogy and historical societies and know how to find local libraries, archives and records.

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This page written and designed by: Sharon Centanne, Genealogy Research Instructor and Internet Trainer This page updated by Troy-204 August 22, 2020

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