Discovering Cultural Diversity

on the Internet

by Barbara Renick ©Copyright 2002 

[email protected]

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Sooner or later, most genealogists trace their family trees beyond

the boundaries of their research experience. Learning to do research

in a new geographic area and/or culture means that some things stay the same (fundamental principles of research) and some things will be different.

Challenges faced include:

bulletThe legal and cultural systems that created records (history).
bulletThe geopolitical shifts in boundaries and jurisdictions.
bulletThe types of records created.
bulletThe typical time period for each type of record created.
bulletThe availability of records for that time period and location.
bulletThe languages and dialects of the record keepers.
bulletThe script/handwriting used by the record keepers.
bulletThe cryptic symbols often used in many types of records.
bulletThe tools/finding aids specific to that locality, record type, and time period.

Audio tapes of lectures given at regional and national genealogical conferences in years past are available at the Web site ( These are searchable by author, title, or conference name.

The FamilySearch Internet Web site has five areas of significant help for genealogists learning to do research in a new geographic area and/or culture.

bulletResearch Helps ( > SEARCH > Research Helps)
bulletResearch Guidance ( > SEARCH > Research Guidance)
bulletWeb Sites directory ( > SEARCH > Web Sites)
bulletFamily History Library Catalog (online version) ( > LIBRARY > Family History Library Catalog)
bulletGlossary ( > Glossary)

Despite the vastness of the help available at the FamilySearch Internet Web site, no one site on the Internet has “everything.” Examples:

bulletGENUKI vs. British Isles GenWeb Project
bulletGENUKI (
bulletBritish Isles GenWeb Project (
bulletGenWeb Projects vs. WebRings
bulletWorldGenWeb Projects (
bulletWebRing (
bulletCyndi’s List vs. Web Sites directory at FamilySearch Internet
bulletCyndi’s List (
bulletWeb Sites directory at FSI ( > SEARCH> Web Sites)

Specialty Sites:

bulletFEEFHS (
bulletGENUKI (
bulletHMC’s ARCHON  (
bulletIndigenous Peoples of the World (anthropology) Web Sites
( (
bulletPolishRoots (
bulletJewish Genealogy (

Some of the best resources are found in unlikely or less likely locations.

bulletBaltimore County [MD] Genealogical Society’s ethnic links
bulletMr. Tom Wodzinski (in Canberra, Australia) has Polish genealogy links
bulletRafael T. Prinke’s Web site ( in Poland

Many of these less likely online resources can be found via search engines.

bulletInternet Search Engines is very popular, but don’t stop there. is another useful type of search engine.
bulletMany general Internet search engines have special country and/or language specific versions.
bulletThere are also geographic/language specific search engines.
bulletEuroSeek (bought out by AB and should be back online by the first quarter of 2002) ( has lists of search engines by:
bulletGeneral Search Engines
bulletWorld Search Engines
bulletTopical Search Engines
bulletReference Sites
bulletRemember to search outside the lines.
bulletSearch for travel resources.
bulletSearch for departments of culture.
bulletSearch for the equivalent of a Chamber of Commerce.
bulletSearch for lists of FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) about that country or ethnic group.
bulletSearch for local newspapers and foreign language newspapers. (
bulletNewsLibrary (
bulletDon’t overlook e-mail discussion groups you can join to lurk and learn.
bulletMail lists
bulletE-mail Collaboration Lists at FamilySearch Internet
( > SHARE > Collaboration E-mail Lists)
bulletRootsWeb (
bulletDeja at Google (
bulletNewsgroups category at Cyndi’s List (

Many online resources can be found via Web Portals. The Webopedia Web site ( defines a Web Portal as: “A Web site or service that offers a broad array of resources and services such as e-mail, forums, search engines, and on-line shopping malls. The first Web portals were online services, such as AOL, that provided access to the Web, but by now most of the traditional search engines have transformed themselves into Web portals to attract and keep a larger audience.”

bulletThe Library of Congress has lists of links in its “Portals to the World” (
bulletBUBL Information Service ( has several lists that are genealogically useful including:
bulletBUBL Link has a catalog of 12,000 Internet resources searchable by countries.
bulletGeneral reference
bulletLanguage, literature, and culture
bulletSocial sciences
bulletBUBL Search
bulletBUBL UK (directory of organizations and institutions in the UK)
bulletBUBL Archive (Web content no longer posted at the current BUBL site)
bulletBUBL Journals
bulletBUBL Mail (Mail Lists and e-mail archives)
bulletRefDesk (
bulletFind: Countries Information>>Poland (
bulletRefDesk’s Historical Information Resources (
bulletRefDesk’s Dictionaries and Language Resources (
bulletHORUS (
bulletHistories of Specific Countries, Times and Places
bulletAreas of History
bulletOn-line Services About History
bulletWeb Tools
bulletAlphabetical Listing of Link Collections
bulletSearch the HORUS Database

Tutorials and resources posted at archive, library, university, and institutional Web sites are often overlooked.

bulletNational Archives and Records Administration>Research Room>Reference at Your Desk>Genealogy (
bulletA2A Database ( “The English strand in the UK archives network” with a catalog of a variety of archives all over England
bulletFinland & Finnish-American Web Resources and Sites (
bulletThe Amherst Center for Russian Culture (
bulletNIDS information from ProQuest (
bulletVolksbund Deutsche (
bulletNorth Carolina ECHO (Exploring Cultural Heritage Online) (

Language aids are plentiful online:

bulletFreeTranslation (
bulletBabel Fish at AltaVista ( (
bulletRefDesk (
bullete-transcruptum (

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