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We Say Good-bye to Genealogy Message Boards

Recently Ancestry.com announced some changes to their services. These include the discontinuation of their active message boards. As I understand their announcement, they plan to archive these and convert them to a read-only format.

I sure hate to hear this news. Oh, I know that fewer people use the message boards. In a class I attended recently, the speaker asked how many attendees “still” use them and only a few hands went up. People have migrated to Facebook to find their cousins.

Nevertheless, I will miss the message boards. Over the years, they have made so many connections possible for me. Some important ones:

  • A post on the Reed surname board elicited a response from my dad’s cousin, Leslie Reed. We had never met, but we discovered a common passion for genealogy via the message board. Years of collaboration ensued, and he gave me all his work shortly before he died.
  • On the same Reed message board I found a query from an unknown-to-me second cousin. She was looking for any information on her father’s family. Her parents were divorced when she was a baby, and her father had disappeared from her life. I had her entire paternal family tree. Not only did she now have a lineage, but I was also able to connect her to a half-sister she did not know she had.
  • After searching the Viipuri, Finland parish records in vain for any record beyond a marriage announcement for my great-grandmother Ada Alina Lampinen, I posted a query on a message board. Shortly the answer came back from a kind Finnish genealogist. Ada was not from Viipuri at all, but rather from Kuopio. My correspondent sent me the link to the digitized baptism record. This opened up an entire line of research for me, and I will visit Kuopio this summer.

I owe so much to the message boards. When they began, they offered a simple and quick way for people to post and answer queries, and the speed of our research leaped forward. For years I have faithfully searched my surname and location boards. I have posted queries and contributed comments where I could. They had become a part of my weekly routine.

With their retirement, I am reminded that the genealogy world keeps changing as new technologies emerge. I must change with it and learn to do things in new ways. Still, I liked the message boards, and I am sorry to see them go.

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