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Using the Internet


With massive amounts of information now on the internet, using your computer is an extremely powerful and effective way to gain access to data from around the world. Unfortunately, not all information is available in any single protocol. This section covers, very briefly, several of the more popular resources.

The most popular internet resource is the web.  It has millions of documents created by businesses, colleges, and individuals. It is also by far the fastest growing part of the net with an average of 1500 businesses added to the web every day. There are also many individuals and non-commercial sites added each day. Programs called web browsers are used to access web information. The most popular ones are Firefox and Internet Explorer.

E-mail is the electronic means of communication from one individual to another. When you get an internet account you'll use an ID that is unique to the server -- a way of identifying yourself. By this ID, anyone on the internet can send a message to you. A message can be a few words or many pages. It can even be a short message with a longer document attached. The message is held in a mailbox at the server until the next time you log on and ask to check your e-mail. Then it is delivered to your computer. This is an important and useful function of internet. It also happens to be the most used resource. It can also be used to access Newsgroups or Listservs.

ListServ is an application of e-mail which collects message by free subscription service. A topic is chosen and a ListServ address is created. Anyone wanting to send a message to the ListServ can do so, and a copy of that message will be sent to every subscriber of the ListServ. The risk with ListServ is that you may get more messages than you have time to read.

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is a means by which files can be transferred from one site to another. The FTP program automatically connects to the remote site, logs on, and starts transferring the requested file to your computer.

Newsgroups are discussion platforms for people to share information and talk about a single subject. The more narrow the topic, the more likely that the discussion will be of interest to those who subscribe (to subscribe is to have your computer automatically pick up all new messages in that newsgroup every time you request it). There are over 20,000 newsgroups devoted to just about any subject you may choose to investigate.


There are many, many resources online now where you can find genealogical data - some are commercial, others are free. (Before investing in a commercial subscription you would be wise to see if you can locate your required information in one of the free sites.)

Here are just a few of the more popular databases where you might locate a few ancestors.

  • Ancestry $$
  • Rootsweb (free)
  • - this is an online library of old, out-of-copyright books.  Use the upper form-box for your search.
  • - like, Google has out-of-copyright books, but you can also view excerpts from *some* current books.


This section contains a few links representative of web sites and genealogical societies that many researchers use frequently, but also link to sites with more complete lists of genealogical societies.

Links to sites with more comprehensive lists of societies:

U.S. National Societies

U.S. state and local societies

British societies

Societies of other countries

Your next step from here is to do a search of the Web for societies in your own area of research.

Next: The Art of Surfing (the Web)


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