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Revisiting online resources in your genealogy research

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One of the most exciting characteristics of online genealogy research is its ongoing nature. It seems like every day new resources come online that might pertain to our families. On the other hand, every day older webpages disappear, or change their URLs. Both of these aspects make it necessary for us to continuously go back and revisit our earlier online research

Sites like Ancestry and FamilySearch lead the pack when it comes to volume of records, and frequency of updates. Are you sure that you have found everything available online for your ancestor?

In addition to the major new releases, both of these sites upload smaller collections on a regular basis. Be sure not to use the search engine alone to look for the names of your ancestors. Don’t forget to search for variant names, other family members, and associates.

Also take the time to browse through the available databases in Ancestry’s Card Catalog. Not all of the sources are indexed thoroughly through the search engine, but some have their own printed indexes that you can browse through.

The same goes for FamilySearchdatabases. Not all of the databases are indexed and searchable. Some of them are just images, and you may have to spend a few hours browsing through the record groups of interest.

You may also find databases on other sites, such as the state or county archives, the local public library, or a nearby state university. Do not neglect these resources. You may be able to find your ancestors by simply “Googling” their names, but you may also have to visit each site individually. Not all records have been indexed by name, and, like with FamilySearch, direct browsing may be necessary.

The transitory nature of the Internet not only means that you have to look for new sources, but also that you must revisit older ones. Websites disappear for various reasons, or sometimes move to new servers, changing their URLs.

I encountered this myself when reviewing the recent Jefferson Clark online case study. One of the sources that I used and cited in an early article was the Noxubee County, Mississippi, Genealogy & History Network. At the time the URL for this site was http://noxubeemsgenealogy.us. As I went back to the site last week, I discovered that the URL was no longer operative. I did a quick Google search for the site, and learned that the new URL is http://noxubee.lauderdalecoms.com/index.shtml. Unfortunately I cannot update the URL in the original article due to a change in the publishing platform, but I must make a note of the change for future reference.

Be sure to revisit your online research from time to time. Not just to search for new sources, but also to verify the old sources.

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