Message Boards are used to find and communicate with other people who may be researching the same families. Used effectively, message boards are another tool in your family history research.
Popular Message Boards
- Message Boards at Ancestry.com. Ancestry is a subscription site, but the Message Boards are free.
- Rootsweb Message Boards: Same boards as Ancestry.com Message Boards, with Rootsweb banner instead.
- GenForum at Genealogy.com. Also owned by Ancestry.com.
Writing an Effective Message Board Query
Keeping your query simple, specific and to the point will increase the likelihood that someone will read it, recognize similarities in their family, and respond.
Before you post a query, search the message board to see if someone has already posted a query. It may be more effective to respond to someone else's query than to start your own on a similar subject.
Create a succinct subject line
An effective subject line is essential! It will determine whether someone reads your message, or skips it. Briefly summarize your query with who, where, when or any other specific information. Some examples:
- Byron Bird, d. 1910, San Francisco, CA - need help finding probate
- Hartrick family - Pullersdorf, Germany to Adams County, Illinois 1854
- Civil War Service Records for Nevada
"Need Help" or "Help Finding My Grandmother" does not communicate who, where, when, or any information that may lead you to an answer.
In the body of the message, share what you DO know and where you found it, or where you've looked. Be as brief as possible. For example:
- "I can find the family in the 1850 census in California, and the 1870 census in Illinois, but have been unable to locate them in 1860."
- "My great grandmother's death certificate gives her birthplace as New York, but the 1900 census shows Germany, and the 1910 says New Jersey."
Summarize your purpose
Summarize your message by stating what you hope to find. Are you trying to find all the living descendants for a family reunion, or trying to match a missing piece of heirloom china? Do you want a photo of a headstone or help finding a marriage license? Be specific but brief.
Include contact information
Be sure to include sufficient contact information so that someone reading your message a day or a year or ten years from now could contact you. For safety reasons, do not provide your home address or phone number. If the site you're using required you to create a log-in and password to post your message, keep a record of the site so that you can go back and update your information if you change internet services providers or e-mail addresses.