In the 2005 movie Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan (played by Elijah Woods) is obsessed with his family history. Because of a photo of his grandfather as a young man with a woman only identified as Augustina, Jonathan sets off for the Ukraine on a darkly comedic journey to find this women.
Before the Internet exploded on the scene, research into one’s genealogy frequently required trips to distant countries, visits to cemeteries and historical societies and a lot of postage stamps. Although many serious researchers may still go to these lengths to locate a long, lost relative, genealogy networks can eliminate much of the legwork.
Ancestry.com bills itself as “the world’s largest online family history collection.” Providing subscribers with access to more than 6 billion records worldwide, it offers a multi-pronged approach to research:
Family Trees – Subscribers can fill out a family tree which will then provide “hints” links to other resources to help confirm information or fill in the blanks.
Search – users can delve directly into a variety of online databases including vital records, censuses, military records and data on immigration, emigration, naturalization and passenger lists.
Networking – What kind of genealogy networking site would Ancestry.com be if you couldn’t interact with other members? The site provides the Member Connect network which lets members keep in touch, share research and get notified if someone adds information about one of your ancestors to his family tree. It also has more than 161,000 message boards.
Free Genealogy Networking Sites
Geni.com is an award-winning site with more than 100 million profiles.
Genealogywise.com offers genealogists all the camaraderie they could want in a community. Members can join a variety of groups and interact via forums, blogs and videos on a wide range of topics.
WeRelate.org approaches family trees as a group effort. This larger, collaborative work allows other members to work on pages you provide.