As I prepared for my webinar presentation Learning More about American Female Ancestors Prior to 1850 for the marathon this month, I started looking at what resources I could pass along to the Legacy Webinars audience. One of my struggles as I work on a presentation is finding the “right” resources to help the audience. In some cases, I feel uncertain whether to even mention familiar resources since they are probably too “well-known” for the majority of family history researchers.
FamilySearch is a website that should be very familiar to researchers. Because it is so familiar, I think we sometimes take it for granted or assume it has nothing to offer our current genealogy research project. It’s no surprise that I recommend taking a look at the FamilySearch Research Wiki to learn more about a location, record or, resource. It's a resource we need to not take for granted.
As I considered American women’s lives prior to 1850 and the various states and eras webinar participants would be researching, I searched books, journal articles, websites, and documents. But one resource that I went back to time and time again was FamilySearch.
The Research Wiki has over 95,000 articles and growing. It’s a resource I always go to to learn more about a location and its records. If you haven’t used the Wiki before, it’s About page states,
The FamilySearch Research Wiki is a free, online genealogical guide created and maintained by FamilySearch, a non-profit organization. It contains links to genealogy databases, websites, other resources, research strategies, and genealogical guidance to assist in the search for your ancestors. Articles included are locality pages for countries around the world and topic pages that include pertinent genealogy record types explaining how to use the record, what it contains, and how to find it.
For my webinar, I found a great page about United States Colonial Records that included various states and the year of the earliest church, land, and court records. A great resource to orient you to the very earliest US records.
My wiki “discovery” is a good example of how important it is to dive deep into a resource to make sure you truly glean everything you can from it. Each country and state page on the Research Wiki has a box with Wiki Topics. It’s a good idea to take your time and click on each link to see what it can teach you about that record type. But that’s not all the wiki provides, research guidance, tools such as maps, topics necessary to genealogy such as migration and handwriting. Clicking around that Wiki Topic box is a must for good research.
As we approach new research we are so excited to see what we can find by entering a name, date, and location in a website search engine that we don’t take the time to do some preliminary discovery of what is possible for that date and place. The FamilySearch Research Wiki helps you do better research. It’s important to take some time to explore the Wiki before you do that search. Educating yourself about research makes you a better (and more successful) researcher.
 “FamilySearch Wiki: FamilySearch Research Wiki,” FamilySearch Research Wiki (https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/FamilySearch_Wiki:FamilySearch_Research_Wiki: accessed 15 April 2021).
Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.