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Researchers benefit greatly from the work of earlier researchers. Often several researchers are interested in the same ancestors. Because researchers rely so heavily on the findings of others, sharing information is the way to return the favor.
Sharing is also a great way to find ancestors. Sharing leads to collaboration between researchers. Cousins will begin to contact you asking for more information. Sometimes the questions they ask will result in work that leads to new information. Once in awhile they will donate the new information directly to you.
In genealogical research, it may never be possible to "verify" all information, but we can have high confidence in research that is thorough and reasonable. Such efforts produce quality sources and benefit the genealogical community. Sharing your research gives your fellow researchers an opportunity to offer suggestions and add new information.
If you are using a computer program for your genealogical record keeping, be sure it supports GEDCOM (see Using a Computer for Genealogy) so that you can share your information with others.
Share your newly discovered information with family members who provided information and with others who may be interested. A family reunion or family newsletter can be an excellent way to share information and help locate others who are interested in your family history.
Online Databases Like New FamilySearch
Another important way to share your findings is with large online genealogical databases. Some charge, others are free. For example:
New FamilySearch. You can also help improve the information displayed in New FamilySearch. This huge Internet database is a combination of the International Genealogical Index, Ancestral File, Pedigree Resource File, and several other large genealogical databases. There are several ways to help—
- Clean up the files already on display. This includes merging varying data entries for the same person, and getting the best data out front. At the moment, the LDS temple ordinance data is especially in need of careful merging and tender loving care.
- Add source documentation. Now is not the best time, but eventually there will be a better way to add source footnotes to the data.
- Contribute new information. Again, now is not the best time, but the day will come when new data will be easier to submit.
Put Up a Genealogy Web Page
Sharing genealogy on your own Internet website is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to publish your findings. Genealogical record keeping software like Personal Ancestral File can help you generate the material for your genealogy Internet site. Then all you have to do is find a web server host. For suggestions on these and other details see Create a Genealogy Web Page.
File sharing websites
Write a Family History
Your family's history can be a source of enjoyment and education for your family. Writing your family history can be an effective way to evaluate, analyze, and organize your findings.
There are many helpful guides on how to write a family history, such as—
Other books about writing a family history are listed in the article Use the Information - For Further Reading and in the Subject Search of the Family History Library Catalog under—
- GENEALOGY – METHODOLOGY
Books. With the growing popularity of “desk top publishing,” it is becoming very easy to publish a book about your family. You can use genealogical computer programs to produce various forms, charts and text. Small-press-run publishers that specialize in family history can be found at genealogy conferences. They will help you learn about providing camera-ready copy, and help you determine how many copies you can afford to print.
The Internet can help you find publishers like Lulu.com which offers "free publishing" to you, but charges your readers for each copy they order. Services like editing and cover design cost you extra.
Many family members will want copies, and will usually be willing to help pay some of the production costs.
If you compile a book, or manuscript, be sure to donate copies to key libraries that may be interested in your family, such as—
- Your local public library and the library where the family's ancestors lived.
- The local historical society where the family lived.
- The local genealogical society if that is separate from the historical society.
- The state genealogical society where the family lived.
- Major research libraries in the region where the family lived.
- The Family History Library. See Gifts and Donations. From that page be sure to read the donation policy titled "Donations to the Family History Library," and get the "authorized gift form" granting permission for the Library to digitize or microfilm your book.
Periodical Article. If you don’t have enough information or funding to write a book, you may want to write a short article for a genealogical periodical. This is especially useful if you have solved a long standing genealogical problem that may interest other researchers, such as the birth of an ancestor in the 1700s who may have many descendants. Perhaps your solution and sources are unique and others could learn from your experience.
A helpful guide for organizing a book or article is—
- Further information: A Guide to Printing Your Family History Wiki page.
Participate in a Family or Surname Association
Others may be searching for the same families you are researching or may have found information they wish to share. A family or surname association can be an excellent way to communicate with interested persons. Family associations often focus on the descendants of a specific person or couple while surname organizations are interested in all those sharing a specific surname. Such associations can also provide funding and support for further research. They often hold reunions or publish newsletters where information is readily shared.
Hundreds of such associations are listed in—
Family Associations and Organizations and Surname Organizations in FamilySearch.org at http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Search/WebSites/frameset_websites.asp?PAGE=browsesurnameandfamilyorg.asp [accessed 27 May 2008]. Organized by state or nation.
Directory of Family Associations [Internet site] at http://www.family-association.com/ [accessed 27 May 2008]. You can register a family organizations online at this site.
To begin such an association, you can advertise in a major genealogical magazine such as The Everton Genealogical Helper Magazine or in the newsletter of the local genealogical society where your family settled. For a list of local genealogical societies see Historical and Genealogical Societies of the United States.
Contact other interested family members and seek others with the surname of interest in computerized phone directories.
Donate Your Files
On occasion it may not be possible to publish your findings. If you have a significant amount of printed or manuscript material about a family, an archive or historical society may be interested in your files. Be sure they are well organized so others can find information in the collection. If possible, index your materials.
The Family History Library is willing to microfilm (or digitize for the Internet) organized collections of material. For details see the Library's Gifts and Donations page, and read the policy link titled "Donations to the Family History Library."
Computerized pedigrees and family group records should be contributed to the Pedigree Resource File.