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About Queries & Look Ups

Queries

What is a Query?

  • Queries are inquiries about surnames or ancestors that are posted on a county site within The USGenWeb Project system.
  • Queries are designed to be posted online for others researching in the county who may also be interested in the same surnames.
  • It is not the job of the county coordinator to research the queries. They may if they have some interest in the line, but their obligation extends to posting the query online and no more.

What information should be included in a query?

  • To better ensure responses to your questions, it is usually best to keep queries short and focused. Defining an individual or family by a marriage on a specific date in a particular place gets the best responses to text queries. You should also specify the type of information you have (and will share) or need. For example, if you have descendant information, be sure to tell folks that you are interested in ancestry but will share some of the descendant information. Trading data between like-interested individuals is what can make genealogy on the Internet so rewarding.
  • Another factor to consider is the audience for the query. You must always format your query as required for the particular venue you choose. Each site will have its own rules. For example, the RSL (Roots Surname List) only permits a skeleton entry of a surname, inclusive years of activity, coded places of activity, and your specially-formatted ID.
  • Other sites have similar restrictions though not to the extent of the RSL. Knowing your audience is important before posting and it is always wise to familiarize yourself with that audience in advance. That includes subscribing to and viewing list/newsgroup activity before posting so you understand what is expected of you and what you can expect of others.
  • Make sure you check Cyndi's List of Queries & Message Boards for other places to post your query. The more people who see it, the more chance you have of "meeting" that person who can really help!
  • Most USGenWeb County sites do not have stringent requirements for accepting queries. BUT, posting the query isn't going to get you many responses if you don't give some fairly specific information about what it is you are looking for. This is a great way to potentially hook up with someone else researching your line and perhaps you and that person will be of tremendous help to each other.

How do I post a query?

  • Go to the County site where your ancestor lived. County sites can be found by accessing the State GenWeb Page. You can access the State's page from the National Site at The Project's State Pages.
  • Fill in your full name and email address as requested. Enter your query as you want it to appear - include dates and locations.
  • Please limit your request to 1 or 2 surnames for each query. Please make sure to select the proper category and county. Some volunteers coordinate websites for more than one county. It is very important that you indicate for which county your query is intended.
  • Please realize that the county coordinators are volunteers and most have other responsibilities including full-time jobs. Sometimes it may take a week or more for the volunteer to get your query posted.

Lookups

How do I request a lookup?

  • Each county's lookup section should contain instructions for contacting the lookup volunteers.
  • Generally, you would send an email message to the lookup volunteer, indicating the reference material you wish searched.
  • Be sure to include as much information as you can about the ancestor for whom you are requesting the lookup (dates, location, etc.).

What to do after getting a reply to a lookup request?

  • Please consider sending a thank you note.
  • Send a follow up message if the information was significant - let the volunteer who provided the lookup share that feeling of finding important information.
  • Pass the favor on to others by volunteering to do lookups in your reference material.

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