January 24 – Explore online message boards for your ancestral surnames and places of residence. Start with the boards listed at <boards.ancestry.com>; Bookmark the ones you want to come back to.
January 25 – Revisit the boards you bookmarked yesterday and
post queries. Log your postings in your online research tracker.
I’m a firm believer in visiting and using message boards. It
is always wonderful to find distant relatives. However, most people don’t know
how to create good messages. For one thing, you should be as specific as
possible in your questions, no broad questions, those are too overwhelming.
Also, make sure to give plenty of information of what you already know, so others
can easily figure out if this person is one in their tree. Example of bad
query: I’m looking for any information about John Smith of Portland, Oregon.
Example of good query: I’m looking for the parents and siblings of John Smith,
born 3 May 1850 in Portland Oregon; he married Sue Jones 28 June 1872 in
Portland, Oregon. He immigrated to the US in 1870. His parents were born in
Also, don’t include phone numbers or emails within the
query. Message boards such as Ancestry.com or Rootsweb.com allows you to set up
a free account and your email information will be included with your account.
Your user name will display with your post and when a user clicks reply, you
will be sent a notification that someone reply to your post. This makes it easy
to follow-up. Other boards may need to be revisited periodically to see if