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Updating GenForum now

There are an awful lot of reasons why genealogists should love Greg Boyd.

Start with the fact that his Arphax Publishing Company has some of the most useful map books on the planet — the Family Maps series of Land Patent Books and the Texas Land Survey Maps series — county by county, state by state, maps showing original settlers whose purchases are indexed either in the U.S. Bureau of Land Management database or the Texas General Land Office database.

GenForumGo on to his groundbreaking HistoryGeo.com website, where the records underlying those maps are accessible through a single interactive map where you can look for, say, every Zinkelschmidt in the areas covered by the database all at once. Or where there is another searchable database of more than 100,000 landowners shown on a collection of nearly 4,000 historical maps.

Those by themselves would endear him to The Legal Genealogist. Not to mention the fact that he’s also in that not-terribly-large corner of the genealogical community where researchers also have law degrees.1

And then there was Greg’s comment yesterday on Facebook.

“Hey genealogy buddies,” he wrote, “here’s an idea that some of you should consider. September 30th will be the last day EVER for Genforum entries. You could literally have the last word on any message threads where bad information has been spread over the years.”2

Oh, my.

What a great idea.

GenForum is the message board system of Genealogy.com — and Genealogy.com is among the services that Ancestry.com is shuttering as of September 30th.3 The GenForum message boards date back to the internet equivalent of the Dark Ages — some boards there have messages dating back into the 1990s, and the number of messages on active boards runs to the thousands — 39,302 on the Jones Family Genealogy Forum, for example.

As Greg notes, the GenForum boards aren’t going away completely, but after September 30th, we won’t be able to post any more comments or queries there. The boards will be read-only — meaning people will still be able to see what’s there, review what’s been posted, even contact posters who’ve left valid email addresses.

But no additional, new, updated or corrected messages can be posted after that date.

Meaning we have 85 days left to review those boards, the ones important to us and to our families.

Eighty-five days to ask our remaining questions, post links, update our contact data.

Eighty-five days to put the word out to people researching the same surname, or geographical area, or ethnic group.

Eighty-five days left to get the last word in.

Because when the clock ticks over to the first of October, nobody else is going to be able to weigh in on that ranging debate about whether Robert and Anna were the parents of James — or whether Stephen and Sally were. Nobody else is going to be able to dispute that claim about William Jr. being the son of William Sr., rather than just a younger family member living in the same area at the same time.

Here are a few of the things that might be most important to add to the GenForum boards in these next 85 days:

• Queries to people in particular family lines for DNA testing.

• Queries about locations of specific records — like Family Bibles — once reported to exist.

• Follow-ups on records mentioned in older messages.

• And, of course, our latest (and last!) conclusions on specific issues of family history (that William Sr. and Jr. debate, for example), citing sources.

But the most important of all is the one Greg highlighted: “be sure to use an email address with your account that you plan to keep the rest of your life. If they have an old address on record, you might consider changing your settings to reflect your latest.” You might even want to create a new one, just for this purpose, add it to your account record there, or post it in a form that won’t be so easily harvested by spammers (such as “yourname (at) service dot com” rather than “yourname@service.com”).

Because, as Greg notes, even though the GenForum boards aren’t nearly as active today as they once were, posts to those boards still show up very high in the search results on Google and other search engines, making them an excellent way of reaching people looking at the same families — and giving them a way to reach you — well into the future.

“Just a thought,” he said.

Thanks for that thought, Greg Boyd.

Let’s get cracking…


SOURCES

  1. Others include my dear friends Donn Devine CG, of Delaware, who was recently named a Fellow of the National Genealogical Society, and Michael Ramage CG, of Pennsylvania, who serves as vice president of the Board for Certification of Genealogists.
  2. Greg Boyd, status update, 6 July 2014, Facebook (http://www.facebook.com : accessed 6 July 2014).
  3. Others are MyFamily.com, MyCanvas.com, Mundia.com and all of Ancestry’s YDNA and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) testinng. This does NOT include the AncestryDNA service — the newest autosomal DNA testing that it has been offering since 2012 — which will continue.
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