Genealogy and Personal Websites

Submitted by ian on Tue, 02/22/2011 - 10:22

I have been doing genealogy for around 6 years now, and one of the most important tools in my research has been the internet.  One important aspect of the internet is the ability to get to sites like ancestry.com or Footnote.com at any time of the day, as long as I have an internet connection.  Another aspect of the internet as a tool for genealogy is the ability to share and get the word out.  One of my personal motivations for my genealogy work is to share the information with as many people as I can.  I work on uncovering my families history because so little of it was known to me.  Some of the steps along the way have been difficult, and I want to make those steps easier for those who follow me in the future.  I want to share the info with as many people as I can so that the information is not easily lost or forgotten in the future.  

The internet provides a relatively low cost means of getting the information out to those who care with ease.  There are several ways to get you information on the internet to be shared with others, I have listed a few below:

Services like these are a great way to get your information out there, and have little to no cost associated with them.  There are some limitations as you will need to work within the framework of the provided software.  Often times it can be difficult to post a "blog" style commentary about your family history if that is what you want to do with these types of services.  For a blog style method to present your research, try a service like Blogspot, which again is free to use.

  • Run your own website.

This is the option that I use, and it has been great.  This option can get more complicated, but provides a ton of options for you.  To get started with running your own website, you will need a domain name (i.e. itowler.com) and hosting (some where to actually put the files that make up the website).  Running your own website provides you the flexibility to almost anything that you want.  For instance, I have chosen to take the "Blog" approach and the "Online Family tree" approach.  I have my blog at www.itowler.com, which sometimes (but not always) has posts that related to genealogy, and I also have my online familytree (http://familytree.itowler.com).  The online familytree provides a framework to record findings, work with others and share the information that I have gathered.

Getting you research online can be done with a number of methods, but for me the most important reason to get them online is to share and reap the rewards of having it online.  I have taken a moment to list a few of the things that I think have been the most important rewards I have been able to take advantage of are:

  • It provides a place (although virtual) to meet and "gather around" to collaborate on your research.
  • It allows you to post your "brick walls" so that others can take a look at them and potentially help you break through them.  I have done that a few times myself like this post here.
  • This kind of fits with the first item, but it allows someplace for people to share items, despite the fact that they may be hours away, or even in different time zones.
  • Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, maintaining a website means that it will likely be indexed by the major search engines, and thus allow other people to find your information when they perform a search.  On my website, I have a built in "Contact Me" form that lets people get in touch with me easily.  I have received a few emails already this year from individuals that have found my site via a search engine.  This allows you to connect to individuals that you may not have been able to find them in previous years.

If you have been doing genealogy and you do not have some sort of online presence, you may be depriving yourself of some very important, and intangible benefits.  The ability for others to find you research and the ability to share information with ease could help bring you familytree out of the dark and into the light!