Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Surname Forum

This is either a good recommendation, or a shameless plug. You'll have to decide which one for yourself!

A few years ago I started a Yahoo! Group called Surname Forum. I was looking for a place that was surname focused, where you could touch base with other people who were researching the same surnames you were. Not finding such an spot, I set up a Yahoo group, and a Surname Database that everyone could access and add to.

It started off a little slow, but the group now has over 1200 members, and almost half that many surnames listed in the database. When a member adds a name to the database, they add
1) the name of the ancestor they are looking for,
2) any pertinent dates and locations
3) specific information that they are hoping to find
4) their contact information (usually an e-mail address)

The reason I chose the database format is because of how easy it is for new group members to see at a glance if any of "their" names have been listed on the site. Of course, people can (and do) post "who I'm looking for" messages frequently, and that's great too.

One of the nice surprises that has developed from this group is a wonderful sense of community. We have a number of people that voluntarily spend their time helping anyone who sends out an "S.O.S." It's refreshing and heartwarming to see. It just goes to show -- if you are a real "genealogy buff" it doesn't matter whose family tree you're working on. The enjoyment comes from putting the various pieces of the puzzle together....not from whose picture the completed puzzle shows!

If you are looking for a little help with *your* genealogical puzzle, would like to add your "brick walls" to our Surname Database, or if you just want another online genealogy hangout -- stop by Surname Forum. We'd be glad to have you!

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