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  1. Build your family tree! It's FREE to fill out on Ancestry.com
  2. Contact other descendants in Genealogy forums such as Ancestry Surname Community
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New to Genealogy - Help for Beginners

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Mailing Lists: Good Query, Bad Query

To make good use of a mailing list you need to learn the rules of the list and how to write a good query. A good query is bound to get you good results, other subscribers are more apt to respond. A bad query will be ignored or deleted. Good queries are clear, precise and have enough information to allow readers to help you.
  • Remember the 3 Rules - Name, Dates and Location! Be sure to include all three in your query.
    Join Rootsweb Surname mailing lists to find ancestors
    1. What is your ancestor's name?
    2. When was he born (or married or died?). If you don't know, make a guess - you must know if he was born 1820-1840 for example, versus being born 1910-1920!
    3. Where did your ancestor live or settle or where was he born? Be sure to include this information in your query.
  • Tell where you have already looked (example: I've searched the 1910 and 1920 census)
    Olive Tree Genealogy Tip Writing a good query is important for mailing lists and for Genealogy Forums
  • Tell what you want to know (example: I'm looking for my ancestor's death)
  • Write a descriptive subject line for your email (example: looking for Harvey Smith in PA circa 1850)
  • Leave lots of white space! Don't run your sentences all together. Leave space (white space) between your information and your question(s). Remember, the easier you make it for readers, the more chance you have of getting help

Good Query

Subject: Homer Jackson ca 1830 OH-1897 MI

Homer Jackson was born circa 1830-40 in Ohio, lived in Michigan from 1860 til his death in 1897.

He married Mary (surname unknown) circa 1859. Known children were Jesse, James, Sarah & Mary all born MI in 1860s.

I am looking for his wife Mary's surname and don't know where to look for Marriage Records.

Bad Query

Subject: Help!

Looking for info on Homer Jackson in Michigan


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