In the ‘good’ old days, when listing the steps we should take to research our family history, we used the term ‘previous research’.
For family history societies around the world, listing ‘Member’s Surname Interests’ in magazines was one way to find others researching our families.
The Web has certainly increased our chances! Recently I helped a lady in America fi nd her New Zealand family. She had paid for three unsuccessful professional searches. I went to www.genealalogy.org.nz and under Resources>Members Interests I entered the family name (Jones!), and was able to send an email to an NZSG member, whose elderly mother could remember receiving parcels from the American family. I also found, through www.ancestry.com.au (search Public Member Trees) long-lost and unknown cousins of a family in England.
Recently I have been looking for ancestors born in the late 1700s. Searching all the usualsites (www.findmypast.com, www.familysearch.org, www.thegenealogist.co.uk, www.originsnetwork.com) seemed to confirm the negative research I was doing. This is where you locate someone who might be your ancestor (or target); you proceed to try to find them in all available records, especially after you know that your target is no longer in that country or perhaps alive. Because, if you fi nd this person when you know your target is elsewhere, then you can cross that person off your possible list.
All searches confirmed the possible target was a probable, until I thought to try Australasian Genealogy Databases (www.anzgdb.com). There I found our target had died aged 23, so possibly childless.
I now need to try to confirm this – but that is what ‘previous research’ is all about: having the chance to scan the world to find any clues, confirmations, alternatives, contradictions, negations – and the chance to collaborate and corroborate with others researching my families.
When you go to ANZGDB, be sure to take the Guided Tour. It has access to over 13 million people in family trees, submitted by researchers or harvested from the Internet. Submitters upload a gedcom file (.ged) created from Legacy, Roots Magic, Family Tree Maker, etc.
Harvesting needs some background information. People who upload .ged fi les do so in the hope that long-lost or notyet- found family members will happen across the information and make contact, unless the information is password protected for family-only access.
Remember, search engines search only 10-25% o f available Web sites, so there are millions of sites we will never find – unless we an expert searching for us and locating available .ged fi les and placing them where we have access, which is what happens on ANZGDB.
The site is very strict on not showing any information on living people and quickly removing anything submitted in error. It’s a site where you can create, publish and share information, under the conditions you set. Submitting .ged files gives you free access to other submitters and their data; otherwise there is an annual fee.