When I was young, I used to sneak into my dad’s red toolbox to admire the tools he used and to make sure I knew the names of each and how each one was used. I was most fascinated by the tape measure and the level.
My fascination for tools has carried over to social media. I am always looking for the best tools to help genealogists and family historians find greater success. Two new powerful FamilySearch community tools have leveled the playing field between professionals and enthusiasts, and helps everyone measure up when it comes to our knowledge of genealogical resources, FamilySearch Wiki and FamilySearch Forums.
I volunteer at the Columbia family history center in South Carolina each week where I have had many opportunities to help patrons break through “brick walls.” I have helped to empower them by helping them to learn how to access and use these two tools when they have exhausted known resources and need a little assistance.
The benefits of FamilySearch Wiki and FamilySearch Forums are:
- research assistance is free
- both can be accessed from home
- professionals and enthusiasts share what they know
- responses to research questions are accurate and timely
The two challenges we face in researching are running out of resources and finding answers to research questions. These two FamilySearch power tools are the answer to both challenges. Just about every person whom I have helped who needed help beyond my own expertise has found answers using FamilySearch Wiki or FamilySearch Forums.
Now, I help to empower everyone to know how to find help when they get stuck:
1. When you run out of resources, search the wiki to see what resources exist for the geographical location where your ancestor lived. Search the wiki also for articles that tell more about the history of the area and the events that took place during you ancestor’s lifetime.
2. If you are unable to locate resources on the wiki, go over to the forums and ask for free research assistance. Be sure to include your ancestor’s name, vital information (dates, places, and events) and explain what you want to know.
3. If you discover a resource that was not included on the wiki, go back and contribute it so the next person will be able to find it more easily.
These three easy steps have proved successful for many people who have struggled with “brick walls” for some time. I have received assistance with a few of my own challenges as well. I encourage you to try these powerful tools for yourself, and please come back to share your success!
- Online Family History Lessons – Free for All!! (familyhistoryalive.wordpress.com)
- FamilySearch.org Website Change (seattlefhc.wordpress.com)
- RootsTech: The History of Your Family is in the Future (readwriteweb.com)