Baby Boomers, Fascinated by Tales of Their Famous and Infamous Ancestors, Have Made Genealogy One of America's Hottest Hobbies
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CHARTING YOUR SOURCE
With online genealogy expanding faster than ever, there's a good chance that clues to your ancestors' lives exist somewhere in the digital world. Knowing where to look, however, may still take considerable detective work. You may need to join newsgroups, get on e-mail lists and sort through hundreds of Web pages before turning up a lead. Here are a few sites to help get you started:
A first-rate gateway to online genealogy. Free databases include the Social Security Death Index, the Ancestry World Tree (a database of Ancestry subscribers who have posted their family histories online) and a rotating list with indexes such as civilian draft registrations from the First World War. Subscriptions cost $59.95 per year and enable you to access more than 700 databases. Membership also includes free online support and a subscription to Ancestry magazine. Beginners can access genealogy lessons at no charge.
A noncommercial, privately run site, providing more than 40,000 links categorized and cross-referenced in more than 100 categories. Browsing is free and categories range from the familiar to the obscure: from cemeteries and funeral homes; to prisons, prisoners and outlaws; to Quaker families and Jewish genealogy. Links to all the major U.S. government sites, such as the National Archives and the Library of Congress, plus a helpful section on how to use the resources of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints' Family History Library.
THE USGENWEB PROJECT
Another noncommercial, volunteer-run site providing useful links to county and state archives and resources. Includes links to get you started and links to Web sites posting family reunion bulletin boards, state histories and maps charting county boundaries. Also has links to family reunion pages and state projects, such as records of Civil War regiments.
BRODERBUND'S FAMILY TREE MAKER
Broderbund's site for genealogy (the company also makes a best-selling CD-ROM package). This helpful Web page offers a grab bag of services, including tutorials, databases, links to other sites and a forum for exchanging stories with other members. Visitors to the site can view a listing of additional indexes, but only subscribers can access them.
ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL GENEALOGISTS
Provides listings of certified genealogists, including sections on what to look for in a professional. The site also lists regional chapters, with phone numbers of local pros.
The first and largest genealogical mailing list, with more than 10,000 subscribers. For free membership, e-mail your request to ROOTS-L-request\@rootsweb.com with the word subscribe in the message field. (Or go to the URL above for more information.) ROOTS-L databases include a list of more than 350,000 surnames and contact information for the 50,000 people researching them. Its library maintains hundreds of accessible text files, including a collection devoted to vital records, plus tips for beginners and book lists from the Library of Congress. There's also a searchable archive of messages posted since 1987.--DF