Monday, April 12, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Weeks 14 & 15

This week, you readers get a double installment, as gardening demands and spring colds and allergies have caused me to fall a bit behind. These weekly challenges are developed by Amy Coffin at the WeTree Blog, and sponsored by Geneabloggers. Here you go!

Week 15: Write a letter. It these days of emotionless email, the art of letter writing is getting lost. Pick one of your information needs or queries and write a letter requesting information. You may want to write to a small library or a relative asking for family history information. If you’re requesting a return reply, be sure to include any forms that are required, funds (if necessary) or a self-addressed, stamped envelope for return correspondence. If you write a genealogy blog, include a post about the information you requested and from whom.This challenge runs from Saturday, 10 April 2010 through Friday, 16 April 2010.

This tip is a great reminder to all of us that sometimes the best way to find what we are searching for is not to look on-line, but to consider more traditional means of correspondence. There are many knowledgeable genealogists and family members, with access to a treasure trove of family history, that are not comfortable with the Internet, and there are many institutions that still prefer a carefully-written request by snail-mail rather than a hastily composed e-mail message. I have found wonderful church records and other important family history through letter-writing. Give it a try today!

And, Week 14: Use a different search engine for your online genealogy research. Google is quite popular, but other search engines may provide different results. Try Yahoo! Search, Bing,, Dogpile, and even Clusty. Pick an unusual surname and search it in different engines. Make note of the top 10 page returns for each. If you’re a genealogy blogger, share your observations on this experience.

This, too, is a great hint! I tend to use one search engine most of the time, because it is where I have set my default home page in my browser. But, I have often learned the hard way that I have missed something that another search engine would have found. Check out some of the search engines you use less frequently, and while you are there, remember to look around for any "advanced search" options that will let you define your search more precisely, and increase your chances of finding what you seek.

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