Making Connections: Abbreviated Names, 101 Best Web Sites

By Family Tree Editors Premium

The Long and Short of It

Regarding your brick-wall strategy to search for abbreviated names (October 2004): Also watch for abbreviations that indexers turned into other names. I had trouble finding my great-grandparents’ marriage records. There was no Samuel Peters in the grooms book for the parish I knew they had to be in. But there was a Saul Peters, and finally the clerk pulled that original record for me. We discovered that the papers all had Saml for Samuel, and the indexer had read it wrong. It didn’t help that his bride, Eliza Jane Cole, was listed as Lizer Jane Cole.

– Donna J. Richmond

Weak Links?

I looked to your 101 Best Web Sites article (August 2004) with great interest and anticipation. But I would suggest that you contact whoever is in charge of Genealogy Helplist <> and notify them that they need to update their volunteer e-mail addresses. Every time I tried to contact a Helplist volunteer, my message bounced back because none of the addresses were known/recognized. This problem was furthered by the fact that they pulled their list of individuals responsible for specific pages.

– Joe Ector

Editor’s note: The Genealogy Helplist is a network of genealogists who do free lookups. The site reports that it removed its list of “maintainers” — volunteers who coordinate the lookup lists for each geographic area — because the page was “excessively abused.” We contacted the Helplist administrators to find out the procedure for reporting “bounce backs,” but hadn’t received a response as of press time. Although the site’s status isn’t clear, remember that grassroots genealogy efforts depend on volunteers’ time and resources. For example, some Helplist pages might not have coordinators; others list the maintainer’s name and e-mail. If you don’t have luck with Helplist, we encourage you to try the other collaboration resources in our article – or volunteer to lend a hand!

I have enjoyed many of your articles, but I was disappointed in your recent “Strongest Links” article (August 2004). You referred to Census Online <> as a great place to get free census information. How can it be free if it automatically sends you < >? Maybe I just don’t have the right info to get to it? I’m tired of constantly being referred — I feel they have really become a monopoly on the Web. It seems you can’t get anyone to share anything anymore butting in and taking over. So if you really know how to get free info on the censuses, I’d sure like to know. I refuse to get on bandwagon.

– Connie Lockhart

Editor’s note: As our article stated, Census Online links to free census transcriptions: Drill down through the Census Links section by state and county, and you’ll find numerous links to no-cost data at volunteer networks, and genealogy-society and state-archives sites. Census Online does contain many links to paid-access census images — and sister subscription site <> — which it clearly identifies beneath the free sites. That’s one reason we like Census Online: You know before you click if you’ll go to a paid site.

But why the oodles links — at Census Online and so many other genealogy Web sites? runs a far-reaching “affiliate” program, which offers Web sites incentives for referring surfers back to its own pages. When visitors to affiliate sites follow the links and purchase a subscription or product as a result of that referral, pays the sites a commission. Many independent genealogy Web sites use those funds to defray the costs of hosting their Web sites, including server space and domain names — which in turn allows them to offer their own online material for free. You can learn more about’s affiliate program at < home/partner/affiliate.asp>.
From the February 2005 Family Tree Magazine