This blog will include reminiscences, photos, musings, observations, research tips, data extractions and links to websites having to do primarily with our ancestors in the deep south states Georgia and Alabama, and may also include information and photos gathered during research of our family's lines in other states.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Most Productive Online Tools 1995-2008

In 1995 when my search began for the parents of Thomas S. Jordan and other missing ancestors, the need for some sort of genealogy software became apparent. Family Tree Maker had the features I needed and was very user-friendly for a newbie, so I entered data into it. Later versions permitted connecting with online resources, and I am still using a current version of that software.

In late 1995, there was not a whole lot available for genealogy research other than genealogy BBS type groups. Larry Stephens had started some e-mail lists at, and they were wonderful - I particularly liked Deep-South-Roots-L, because it specifically targeted my main area of initial research. That list survived at until August, 2008! In mid-1996, when Larry began letting us individually set up and manage e-mail lists, many of us eagerly set up surname lists for our major surnames - my first was JORDAN, of course, soon followed by KING, CARWILE, BOZEMAN and others. By the time Maiser was trashed by a spammer in April, 1997, many wonderful e-mail lists had been created, not only for surnames, but for counties and large cities and geographical areas and special genealogical interests. Brian and Karen at RootsWeb kindly offered us a new home for our lists. By the end of May, 1997, those of us who wanted to move there were settled in with our lists running smoothly and our list archives, which Larry had let us bring from Maiser, in place, continuing to save list posts. E-mail lists and their archives were, and continue to be, my single most valuable online research tool.

Then came the online censuses. The earliest source I remember for online access to census information was USGenWeb. Volunteers transcribed by hand from census film or census books, and for those of us fortunate enough to have a hardworking transcribing volunteers for the county censuses we needed to access, life was good - even if we had very limited free time, we could work on our lines at home. Problem was that there were a LOT of counties and years, and few volunteers willing and able to do so much work. When added the census to their offerings, online genealogy turned a new page - now it was actually possible to research anywhere in the US online.