Beware! this is my personal opinion. The following list of tips from World Vital Records is one of the best I’ve seen for online research with reminders to back-up your work, save originals, and print out. They’ve kept it simple, unlike many who give good advice, but the lists are way too convoluted with many tips the same as another in the list with different wording. So, World Vital Records says:

“1. Back up! To be successful in your online genealogy pursuits, you’ve got to back up your data and keep copies of what you find at a second location.

2. Save originals! Now in telling you to back up your digital material, we must mention that nothing beats original copies. If you have some priceless documents or pictures that you have already scanned, backed up, and put digitally in a second location; take your originals and organize them in a scrapbook or binder and share them with others.

3. Print out! Additionally, print out the information you find on the Internet. You never know when the url for that document will change and you may never find that info again.

4. Verify it! The Internet is a great tool and open for everyone to use and share. Remember as you are searching, you still need to verify what you find. There is a lot of material out there in cyberspace that is not accurate or complete. Search several web sources to paint a more truthful picture of your ancestors.

5. Spelling counts! There may be many ways in which a surname you are searching for is spelled. Search on all of the spellings you can think of, as well as using maiden names, nick-names and initials. Sometimes it helps to just type in a location and a year without using a name. You can also try a wildcard or subject word search.

6. Join in! Millions of people use the Internet every day to do genealogy. There are many social networking groups on Ning and on Facebook, as well as chat rooms and newsletters specifically centered around genealogy. Find your category of interest and join in to learn and share.

7. Create joy! There are fewer things more meaningful to me than listening to relatives tell stories about their past adventures. There are many online tools you can use to capture their voices from across the miles. Make someone’s day. Call a relative and interview them through your computer and record the conversation. Or, shoot off an email to a family member with your genealogy and family history questions.

8. Vital records! Birth, marriage and death records form the foundation of a person’s life. There are some websites that have amassed quite a collection of these records. If you don’t have a subscription to one of these websites, check out their free trial offers.

9. Program it! There are several genealogy software programs on the market to help you keep track of the information you are collecting. Some of these programs provide the best way to see your progress.

10. Newspapers rock! Newspapers are being digitized all over the world. Many of our members have found some precious data on their ancestors in historic newspapers. So, don’t rule out other content such as historic maps, photographic collections, old dictionaries and gazettes.”


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4 Comments on 10 Tips for Online Research

  1. Vicky says:

    I agree, this is a good list. The biggest problem with World Vital Records is the spam–it’s never ending–especially the constant promotion of #10 on their list.

  2. Tom W. says:

    Yeah, they need to cut back on the spam. It must be hurting their credibility.

  3. LInda Gartz says:

    Thanks, Sandy. These are useful and excellent reminders. With the number of primary documents I have, I’m really concerned about how to pass on. When my brothers and I went through each box in 2000, we created an Excel spreadsheet that lists the overview of contents in each box. We created a separate spreadsheet of just dates — so that every major date we uncovered (births, deaths, baptisms, graduations, leaving for America, etc) was listed there in date order. Scanning everything would be such a huge project, I’m not sure how to begin. I’m meeting next week with a research library in the Chicago area to discuss donating and preserving.

  4. Jon says:

    This is a good list and your intro says it all. Keep it simple…

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