Genealogy Research Groups - dummies

By April Leigh Helm, Matthew L. Helm

If your relatives are tired of hearing about your genealogy research trips or the information that you found on Great-Uncle Beauford, but you’d like to share your triumphs with someone, you may be ready to join a research group.

Research groups consist of any number of people who coordinate their research and share resources to achieve success. These groups may start conducting research because they share a surname, family branch, or geographic location. Individuals who live geographically close to each other may make up a research group, or the group may consist of people who have never personally met each other but are interested in descendants of one particular person. Research groups may have a variety of goals and may have a formal or an informal structure.

A good example of a research group is one that Matthew discovered shortly after he posted his first web page many years back. An individual who was researching one of his surnames on the East Coast of the United States contacted him. After exchanging a few emails, Matthew discovered that this individual was part of a small research group studying the origins of several branches of the Helm surname. Each member of the group contributes the results of his or her personal research and provides any information that he or she finds, which may be of use to other members of the group. Over the years, the group has continued to work together and expanded their efforts. The group as a whole has sponsored research by professional genealogists in other countries to discover more about their ancestors there, and they’ve spun off a more formal research group that focuses solely on molecular research (DNA-based) of the Helm bloodlines. The vast majority of the communication for these two research groups is through email.

But there is another, newer way to find indexing projects, and it may save you time. Crowd Source Indexing, which is in beta testing, is a collective of genealogical projects to index a variety of resources. This effort enables individuals across the globe to help with indexing projects for all types of records and in several locations. Volunteers who sign up to help are assigned a page at a time for the project in which they are interested. After indexing the page, they can choose whether to continue helping index records that are included in the Crowd Source Indexing site.