Saturday, March 9, 2013

The GenWeb Movement

All of us have heard of the huge well-known genealogical websites such as and Ditto for a host of speciality websites frequently profiled in genealogy publications. And we likely visit the websites of many local organizations (genealogical societies, historical societies, libraries, museums).

But some of you may not have heard of an all-volunteer effort whose objective is provide local genealogical websites with free access for everyone. During the mid 1990s, the GenWeb movement began and culminated in creation of three independent organizations – one for the United States, one for Canada and one for the rest of the world. The core of these GenWeb organizations is not their national or international website. That is the starting point of a hierarchy that allows you to navigate to local-jurisdiction websites. For example, The USGenWeb Project's website points to state websites which, in turn, point to websites for each county within the state.

While valuable information is posted at the higher-level websites, the real treasure is the local websites created by and contributed to by volunteers with extensive knowledge of those little areas. At the very least, the local website points you to where genealogical information can be found. Also present may be some posted records, look-up volunteers, list of local organizations, mailing lists, message boards, history, boundary changes over time and important local research tips. Of course the content of such websites greatly varies according to the expertise and knowledge the volunteers.

Links to GenWeb organizations:

Sacramento County CAGenWeb (part of The USGenWeb Project)

The USGenWeb Project

Canada GenWeb

The World GenWeb Project

If you ever wanted to run an informational website beyond one for your personal family history, there are aways local-website vacancies. There are a few rules as to style and content to be followed. But its hosting server, content, organization, appearance are up to the creating volunteer. Most new volunteers will recreate the old website using an HTML editor of their own choosing. It is very motivational to select a county that is a major part of your family history. I run the Sierra County USGenWeb website.

Submitted and posted by Richard Hanson

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