Imagine this scenario: You are researching your Ohio ancestors and you find in the 1860 US Federal Census that your great-great grandfather was born in New York. After you get done celebrating this new discovery panic sets in. You don't know anything about New York. Now you are faced with finding a birth record, and possibly other records, for your New York ancestor.
Whether you need to learn about New York or any other place in the world there is help. Look no further than the FamilySearch Wiki.
A wiki is an online encyclopedia that allows people to find information quickly through a search utility and a massive web of interconnected links. Perhaps you've heard of the most famous wiki of all, Wikipedia, which is a general subject wiki.
The FamilySearch Wiki is one of a number of public wikis that focuses on a specific topic. It was created to provide help to genealogists and family historians. If you are unfamiliar with the FamilySearch Wiki you can take a tour to help you become acclimated to what information is available and where to find it.
The easiest way to get started is by entering a key word into the search box on the main page. The site is organized with a geographic-based structure. You can start at the country-level and then drill down, via links, to counties and cities or towns. Within each geographic level, FamilySearch will provide you with guidance for doing research in that area.
Need to research ancestors in Holmedal, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway? The FamilySearch Wiki will explain where to find church and probate records. Doing some research on the Alsace region of France? FamilySearch Wiki will lead you to in-depth information about its history, emigration and immigration as well as historical records. Or perhaps your ancestors settled in Galveston County, Texas? You'll find links to local cemeteries, obituary resources and historical maps.
FamilySearch Wiki is an information resource powered by volunteers. Because of that, the information available will vary from one geographic location to another. Some geographic locations will be very strong and others may be lacking.
The information you find is thanks to people who have generously shared their time and expertise. For that reason, consider becoming a FamilySearch Wiki volunteer for the locations that you know best and help other genealogists to find the information they are looking for.
Would you like to learn more about the FamilySearch Wiki? In 2011, Michael Ritchey of FamilySearch.org gave a Legacy Family Tree webinar that is now available for viewing.
The next time you make a unexpected genealogical discovery and you need to explore a new location, spend some time at the FamilySearch Wiki. It will be an invaluable resource to get you started.
Guest blogger, Marian Pierre-Louis, is a historical researcher who loves to share, encourage and inspire others on their genealogy research journey. You can see her upcoming webinars on Legacy Family Tree and read her blog, Marian's Roots and Rambles. She is the author of Discovering Your Massachusetts Ancestors, Brick Walls: Cracking the Case of Nathan Brown's Parents and Researching Your Connecticut Ancestors.