Mailing Lists and Making Postings


Once you have made the decision to delve into your family's history, you are going to find out that there are just a countless number of websites for you to use.

While there are many good ones, those are not your only resource on the internet.

As a matter of fact, in many ways, they are not even the best one. Depending on the locale you are searching in many don't have that much data or they are leading to pay sites. Contrary to what everyone says, you don't necessarily have to pay to research.

There is a whole network out there comprised of "Mailing Lists". These are not anything like the "mailing lists" that you get stuck on and continually receive the junk mail in your home mailbox.

Mailing lists in the genealogical world are one of the greatest resources available. As they are free, you cannot get much better for your money.

There are Mailing Lists geared towards:

every county in every state

every State in the USA

just about every surname and variation

most all the country's in the world as well as some smaller provinces there

special interest groups such as "Revolutionary War Soldiers", "Native American Genealogy", and just about every type of division you might think of.

These lists are FREE to join and FREE to post to. Some of them may have upwards of 500 members and others may have only 8 members.

Anytime that you make a posting to a mailing list, you email gets sent to everyone on that list. This increases the amount of persons who could possibly answer your email and give you data.

Some mailing lists are very high activity and others are lower. You may receive only 5 posts a day from one or 5 posts a week. It just depends on how avid the researchers on each list are. You may join as many lists as you choose to. Viruses are not as common on lists (but they do happen) as you are not allowed to send attachments through them. Once you have made initial contact with another researcher that you wish to further your research with then you both can continue on a private basis.

I always advise persons to join EVERY mailing list available to cover all the surnames they are researching (this includes the surnames of persons who married into those families). In addition to these lists join EVERY mailing list for any location that your ancestor was known to have been in or past through.  The more lists that you join, the more people you are researching with your researching questions and therefore increasing your chances of finding that other researcher. You can unsubscribe from whatever list when you are no longer researching in that area. It is all automated so when you unsubscribe there are no problems you just unsubscribe.

Making Postings to the List

When you do subscribe to the mailing lists, they will send you the address to send your postings to.

When you make a posting there are just a few simple guidelines that you will want to follow; you don't have to, but it will make the chances of a response greater and that is the whole point.

In the Subject Line of your Email- Place the name/date/location of the ancestor you are researching. This is done simply like this:


Now in mailing list terminology that is saying you are researching Joshua Smith who lived from 1835-1875 (or at least you think so) and he migrated from North Carolina to Indiana. Use this format if you are on a mailing list for surnames; if you are on a county or state list, you can use the surname with the other data and not the first name. This would signify that you are researching the Smith Family Surname in that location.

In the body of your email--State as clearly as you can EXACTLY  what information you are searching for or hoping to obtain. Include as much information as you can for identification purposes for the reader and possible answerer of your email. (They might have 12 Joshua Smith's in their records). Items you can use to do this are spouses names, parents name, or children names any migrational patterns. If you don't know something don't be afraid to admit it. Another tip is to CAPITALIZE all surnames in your email so they stand out.

Mailing lists have no limit to the amount of emails you can post. It is best to limit each email to either one family/person per post as this is less confusing to the reader.


Don't place in the subject line:




Many researchers will simply delete those messages instead of reading them. Common sense says if they aren't opening your email, they won't read it and help you.

The next entry will deal with Researching Etiquette