History of Rootsweb

Genealogy Online

Hands up if your first forays into genealogy online were with RootsWeb?  Maybe you go back as far as the ROOTS-L mailing list? Or net.roots?  If you do, you’ve been online for a long time!  Even before the web was really a web.

The internet, and genealogy on the Internet, have both been around far longer than many online genealogists realize.   In 1969, four computers were linked together and the network was born.

About a decade later, newsgroups and the USENET were began.  By 1983, the newsgroup net.roots, named after the popular Roots miniseries, had been launched, and with it, genealogy on the internet.

According to “An (Almost) Unexpurgated History of Rootsweb” by Dr. Brian Leverich in an article written way back in June of 1998 (okay…I know that’s not THAT long ago,  unless you are talking internet years), the RootsWeb Surname List began in 1989 and it was his wife Karen Issacson, who maintained it.

From these auspicious beginnings we now have millions of online resources both personal and commercial. Despite all of the online resources it is important to remember that they represent only a small fraction of the genealogy and family tree resources available.

Offline Genealogy Resources

Remember to check out the following resources OFFLINE:

  • Public and University Libraries (arrange interlibrary loans to get resource material)
  • Genealogical societies (can offer expert help and research guidance along with resource libraries)
  • Archives (State, Province, National)
  • Court records
  • Gazetteers
  • Church Records
  • Notarial Records
  • Maps from the times your ancestors lived in the area
  • Land Records
  • Legal Records
  • Education Records
  • Vital Records (Birth, Marriage, Death)
  • Divorce Records
  • Cemeteries
  • Newspaper Obituaries

This isn’t a comprehensive list by any means.  RootsWeb is still a good place to start searching for the surnames in your family tree, but please remember that many genealogy finds will also be found OFFline.


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Author: © Joan Miller - Luxegen Genealogy.

The Luxegen Genealogy and Family History blog presents the family history stories of Joan Miller.