Friday, March 18, 2011

Don't Give Up On Mailing Lists and Message Boards

It must have been the luck of the Irish and all those smiling Irish eyes on March 17th that brought a new cousin connection! I began the course "Social Media for the Wise Genealogist," offered through the National Institute for Genealogical Studies affiliated with the University of Toronto, on March 15th (more on that in a future blog post). One of the course assignments involves reviewing and providing an analysis of mailing lists and messages boards.

I have subscribed to mailing lists for some of the family surnames that I am researching and I have from time to time perused genealogy message boards. Generally, these have not provided much benefit to me. While these forms of inquiry and attempts to connect with researchers of common families or locations were quite popular a few years ago, social media use for the genealogists, it seems to me, has moved beyond message board or mailing list postings.

While doing research for my assignment, I checked the Rootsweb Irish-Canadian list archives for the Latimer surname, the family name for my wife Ellen's maternal line. An advanced search brought me to a posting from 2003 by a researcher looking for information about Ellen's great grandfather's family (his parents and siblings). Ellen's great grandfather Edward Latimer is pictured below on the far left. The little girl in this 1923 photo is Edward's granddaughter and Ellen's mother, Olive Theresa Evelyn 'Tess' Wagner (nee Latimer). The Latimer family as I have
previously mentioned in this blog, immigrated from County Fermanagh, Ireland and settled in Seaforth, Huron County, Ontario, Canada. Depending on the information source used, the family immigrated between 1856 and 1868.

I thought it amazing that I had found a reference to a family I was also researching. More on a whim than anything, I decided to try to contact the inquirer using the email address that has been posted since 2003. Sure enough, the researcher is still interested in learning more about her Latimer family and a new cousin connection has been born! And not only have we connected via email but we have also been able to quickly connect on Facebook!

The lesson in this - don't underestimate or dismiss those mailing lists and message boards. There are obviously still some family gems to be mined.

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