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Article posted: January 09, 2002

Setting Up A Family History Website
By: Ryan Taylor, Biography and Archived Articles

Have you considered setting up a website with your family history on it?

The purpose of these websites is to share information with others who are interested in the same family. At the same time, we can hope that people who see the site will notice that they have information we don't, and offer to share with us.

John Bending has been constructing his website in public for some time. The public forum he has used is the magazine Computers in Genealogy.

In the March-June 2001 issue, he announced that the design of his site is now final. The site itself, of course, will never be finished, since there will always be new information to add and new discoveries to write about.

The site has an index which includes everyone mentioned. All the family members have their own pages, with links to the index and to their larger family.

Bending has chosen to make the family links to the father only. I suspect many people would not approve of this solely patrilineal format, myself included.

Some people have more than one page, resulting in links to previous pages. With those and the other indexes, Bending has created more than 40,000 links throughout the site.

I find that exhausting. Anyone who is going to include all the members of their extended family on their site is going to find the technical side of things-links and indexes-to be very complex.

Another possibility for a site which wants to reach out to the wider world in cyberspace is to simply include pages for particular problems.

People doing searches for family names using a search engine such as Google or Dogpile will still land on your site and may be able to answer the questions. These will be less work for you and the pages can be removed once the problems are solved, if you wish.

Bending's full explanation of his site got very technical and well beyond me, but those of you whose computer genealogical skills are greater may find it enlightening. There are many folks now who combine their interest in playing with their computer with their genealogical hobby and make entering and manipulating their data their first priority.

Oddly enough, Bending does not tell us the URL of his website in the article. A quick Google search turned him up, and if you want to look at what he's done, you can find it at

Ryan's Genealogy Notebook

Another way to gain or share information via the net is the subject list. There seem to be places for almost every possible genealogical subject now.

My own experience has been disappointing. I joined a Devon list (England) with the idea that people would be offering interesting things they had found or discussing techniques of research.

Instead I found that most people were hoping that someone would do their research for them ("Please look this up in the 1861 census").Questions were asked but the answers were usually guesses off the top of someone's head and not authoritative or researched. The questioners would usually be better off using an online dictionary or encyclopedia, if they could not manage to visit a library for a definitive answer.

Still, the chat rooms are a great chance for people to socialize in the genealogical world. I suspect for many of us, that's part of the reason for belonging to the lists in the first place. It can get pretty lonely sitting at home in front of the monitor all day.

German telephone books: I recently found a recommended site for telephone directories in Germany, This is actually a site for German city maps, and a good one if that's what you need.

Searchers for those phone books should use The site has an English side and works better than the ones offered at

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