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Surname Websites And Groups

Updated on June 3, 2010

Surname Websites

Surname Websites and Groups can be an excellent source of information for the beginning genealogist and the seasoned one.

If you Google one of the Surnames you are researching, chances are personal websites will be among the list of genealogy websites. Surname Websites are typically people who have done their research and traced their family history back to a certain point and they offer their work to the world.

The benefits of Surname Websites are that you may find a portion of your family tree. You may have a branch that the publisher of the website had not researched or you may find your entire family tree. Often websites include photographs of individuals or family stories that have been passed down through the generations. However, proceed with caution before you click and Save Picture As or copy and paste that story of the immigrant grandfather who sailed on the "Blessing" from England. In fact, proceed with caution about all information you find on websites, until you research the facts yourself.

There are also hazards of finding your tree on someones website. Realistically, anyone can create a website and place what they believe is their family tree, whether they've actually researched and found proof of lineage or not. Beware! Many authors will document their sources directly on their website, others indicate that they have documented sources and then there are those that simply list their ancestors. My suggestion, and it's a very strong suggestion, is to write down the information first, then do your own research for documentation to substantiate the ancestry.

Often these websites will include an email address where you can contact the author to advise them of the connection or share information that you may have and they do not.

Surname Groups

Surname Groups are a wonderful way to share and receive genealogical information you, or someone else, has uncovered.

One of the benefits of Surname Groups is that you can query a particular ancestor or family line on a message board. Often you are notified by email when a reply is made to one of your posts. Another benefit is connecting with other researchers of the particular surname. I've met many a cousin through forums, message boards and groups.

I recommend for the new researcher to start with and follow boards for each surname in your tree that you know of. Begin posting and be patient. I've had posts that received no replies and a year or so later, out of the blue, I'll receive one.

Make sure that your query is of quality! An example of a good query or post would be, "I am searching for the parents of Joseph Grant. He was born about 1832 in PA and died in 1891 in IN. I've searched the census records and have not been able to find his parents. Any help would be appreciated." What this post will tell other researchers is for one you've already done some of your homework, so you take genealogy seriously and are not just looking for someone else to do your legwork. It also tells others the specific Joseph Grant that you are looking for. You may think your ancestor is the only one, you will be wrong. Was he the Joseph Grant of TN, IL, VA? Was he the Joseph Grant from the twentieth century or eighteenth century?

Always include as much information as you can when requesting help simply saying "I'm looking for my ggggrandfather Joseph Grant." will not receive many replies, unless you get one that asks you "When and where he was born or died." And that may only come from another new researcher or a bored seasoned one. If you do not have information on a particular person, don't start with them, begin with those that you know something about.

Seasoned genealogists take their research very seriously and usually are more than willing to help new researchers with information they may already have or point them in a direction of where to look, but only if they get the sense that you are just as serious.

By the same token, once you have documented sources of an ancestor, be willing to help other researchers. Therefore, make sure that you hit the reply button as well as the post.

As always, Happy Hunting!


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    • earthbound1974 profile image


      7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Wow! This will surely help me in finding my ancestors in Spain. Thanks, Missi!

    • Missi Darnell profile imageAUTHOR

      Missi Darnell 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      DonnaWallace, thank you. Yes, the days of sending requests for info via snail mail and waiting days or weeks for a reply, now much of the information is available (or not) at the click of a mouse.

    • DonnaWallace profile image

      Donna Wallace 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Wonderful information for any surname researcher. Times have changed so much since genealogy research from 15 years ago! Imagine bumping into a relative from across the world.

    • Missi Darnell profile imageAUTHOR

      Missi Darnell 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      Thank you mquee, glad you enjoyed the hub and found it helpful for the beginner.

    • mquee profile image


      8 years ago from Columbia, SC

      Good research information. I was the first in my family to document our family history over 17 years ago. It was hit and miss because I didn't really know what I was doing. You've given the beginner some good starting points.

    • Missi Darnell profile imageAUTHOR

      Missi Darnell 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      Mentalist glad you enjoyed, good luck with your Mom's branch. Most genealogists have a brick wall somewhere, keep searching. If you need any help let me know.

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 

      8 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      My fathers geneology is the well documented Acadian ancestry, but there is zip on moms',the Mertenas...great hub!

    • Missi Darnell profile imageAUTHOR

      Missi Darnell 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      gtsaviel, I haven't done much research in India. You may check with the India Records Office at the British Library in London, England. I can look up for you if you don't already have a memborship, you need to give me specifics.

    • gtsaviel profile image


      8 years ago from Highgate WA Australia

      Hi, Missi Darnell, I would like to know if you know about the SAVIEL family in Burma and India.

      Where can I find information on them.


      George T Saviel

      30 April 2010.

    • Missi Darnell profile imageAUTHOR

      Missi Darnell 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      HealthyHanna, it isn't overwhelming in the beginning. You can get free software to download or you can purchase a program to keep your information organized and start with what you already know. Let me know if I can help in any way. Thank you for commenting.

    • Missi Darnell profile imageAUTHOR

      Missi Darnell 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      billyaustindillon glad I could help. Any questions, feel free to ask.

    • Missi Darnell profile imageAUTHOR

      Missi Darnell 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      Thank you Quill as always.

    • HealthyHanna profile image


      8 years ago from Utah

      I am filing all these suggestions as I AM GOING to start doing my genealogy, . . .soon. I really want to. It is just so overwhelming to know where to start. I seem to see this HUGE commitment on my part to get started. You make it sound easy.

    • billyaustindillon profile image


      8 years ago

      Great idea I never thought of that - I need to research this, no doubt the sooner the better.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great Hub as always and packed with information to help in the family search...Thank you



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