Monday, October 1, 2007

Genealogy Quick Tip — Making Use of Message Boards

Shirley Langdon Wilcox is a certified genealogist who is a past president of the National Genealogical Society, a past president of the Association of Professional Genealogists, and the author and co-author of a number of books (including “Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy”). Well, you get the idea; she's a very accomplished lady. She also happens to be a cousin, albeit a distant cousin of mine. We both descend from William Armstrong, an Irish Immigrant, and Leah Shupe Armstrong Coffelt.

Shirley descends from their daughter, Susan Teresa and I descend from their daughter Elizabeth Harriet. I didn't know of her illustrious genealogical background when I first wrote her an e-mail a few years back. I had found her when I had looked up the Armstrong name on Genforum ( She was both cordial and gracious and e-mailed me scanned copies of two pages from the Armstrong Family Bible. I, in turn, e-mailed her several obituaries I had found on Susan and Elizabeth's siblings.

The Internet is a great equalizer. I would never have had the nerve to contact her had I not found her on Genforum, nor would I have had the foggiest idea of how to go about it. If you haven't taken advantage of Genforum or its sister message board, the Rootsweb/Ancestry Message Board (, you might want to try it. Who knows, somebody out there may be able to help you shatter a brick wall. But remember, genealogical etiquette (not to mention the golden rule) demands that we use these encounters to share information, not demand it.

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, October 1, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

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