By Frankie Meyer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
One of the best Internet websites to check for help in your family history research is the USGENWEB Project.
The extraordinary program was started in 1996 by a few genealogists in Kentucky who decided to develop a website where information on that state could be posted for free use by researchers. The initial program was such a success that it has since been broadened to include all states and counties in the United States.
Volunteers continue to coordinate the public domain information and provide free access to everyone. The site is found at www.usgenweb.org.
When the site opens, scroll down the list of states on the left and click on the one where an ancestor lived. When the state site opens, click on the county that you need to research.
At the county sites, one can find information such as census records, obituaries, tombstone inscriptions, bible records, reunion announcements, marriage records, birth and death records, church records and census records. Some sites also post lost photos and newspaper articles.
Another helpful section at each site is a list of queries submitted by researchers. Next to each query, the site volunteer provides the email address of the researcher and the date that the query was submitted. Throughout the years, I have contacted many distant cousins through the queries.
The sites also post county and state histories. Many of the county histories are from the "Goodspeed" series of books that were published about counties in the late 1800s. In addition, the sites often provide maps that show how county boundaries changed through the years.
If you have ever done research on the eastern states, such as North Carolina, you can appreciate how those types of maps are essential in your research. One of the counties that I have been researching in that state changed names and boundaries five times.
Each county site has directions for contacting the volunteer who is in charge of the site. If you have old Bible records or similar records that might be useful to others, you can submit the information to the volunteer.
Another helpful set of information is found in the lower right corner of the home screen. That section, titled "For Researchers," provides helpful genealogy hints, as well as links to other useful sites.
Suggestions or queries? Contact Frankie Meyer, 509 N. Center St., Plainfield, IN 46168 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.