Mailing Lists in Genealogy

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This article originally appeared in The Official Guide to by Myra Vanderpool Gormley, CG and Tana Pedersen Lord.


Whether you are a brand-new researcher or a more experienced one, mailing lists are one of the best vehicles for finding information about your ancestors and locating cousins or others who may be able to help you. Mailing lists are also great for in-depth group discussions and often appeal to those with a serious interest in a particular subject.

So how do mailing lists work? A member of the list sends an e-mail to the mailing list’s e-mail address, and the list retransmits (or sends) the message to everyone who is subscribed to that particular list. The list keeps you in contact constantly with dozens, even hundreds, of other family history enthusiasts who share your specific interests.

You can simply monitor a list for names, dates, and facts that will help jump-start your research, or you can post your own questions periodically to increase your chances of finding information you need to be successful with your research.

Mailing Lists on RootsWeb

[RootsWeb] currently hosts about 30,000 mailing lists (the number grows weekly) pertaining to different surnames, localities, and other useful genealogical-related topics such as occupations, fraternal organizations, religions, and even heraldry and royalty.

The RootsWeb mailing lists are divided into four main categories: surnames, United States localities, international localities, and special interests. Surnames are broken down alphabetically; U.S. localities are separated by general interests and states, counties, and even districts; international localities are broken down by country, with some larger countries being further split by smaller areas; and the special interest mailing lists contain hundreds of topics, including prisons, occupations, ethnicities, and organizations.

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