Project 5 Goals:  1: Get Help (AN)   2: Message Boards (AN)   3: Member Connect (AN)   4: Genealogy Societies   5: Collaborate   6: Publish a Family History        SEARCH

Project 5: Help

Get help with your own family
history, and find out how to help others with their genealogies.

  Tracker:   Online  or  Word

Goal 1: Get help with your own family history work.


AExplore the Ancestry Support Center.

  1. In the top menu, click Help and select Support Center.
  2. To search for an article, type a keyword in the Search bar and click Search.
  3. To find a Help article by topic, click one of the topic buttons.
  4. You can also scroll down to the "Most Popular Help Articles" box and select an article.

BGet help for your own research tasks.

  1. Know how to ask the right questions to get the help you need.
    How to Get Your Genealogy Questions Answered
  2. 2018-01-01
  3. Get help searching records from lookup volunteers around the world.
    RIV—Lookup Volunteers—12 pgs.
  4. Explore the FamilyTreeCircles site for help with crowd-sourcing your family history.

Instructor Tips

C(Optional) Explore the resources at a family history center.

  1. Visit a local family history center and talk with a volunteer. These services are free to all. To find a list of nearby family history centers, click here. To find a family history center anywhere in the world, click here.
  2. Use the free Premium website offerings at a family history center. These include full access to Ancestry,, and others. See the full list of premium sites available at each family history center.

Goal 2: Explore Ancestry Message Boards.


ASearch for content and message board types.

  1. In the top menu, click Help and select Message Boards.
  2. To search for content in the Message Boards, type names or keywords in the first box and click Search.
  3. To use advanced search features, a) Click "Advanced Search"; b) Fill in any of the search fields as needed; c) Choose a message classification from the drop-down list; d) Choose a timeframe in the "Posted Within" drop-down list; and e) Click Search.
  4. To search for a specific type of message board, type a surname or topic in the second box and click Go.

BExplore categories and read messages.

  1. In the top menu, click Help and select Message Boards.
  2. To find message threads in localities, a) Click a category (to see more, click the "More Localities Categories" link); b) If another list of categories appears (folders), open the category you want; c) Click the Message Board title (message icon); and d) Click a title of interest to read the message thread.
  3. To find message threads in topics, a) Click a category (to see more, click the "More Topics Categories" link); and b) follow the rest of the step above.
  4. Click a thread title to read the message. If you want to open all the messages, click the "Change to Flat View" link.
  5. Click a thread title to read the message. The message is marked as read in the list (the orange dot is removed).
  6. You can click the author's name to see his or her profile, or click "View posts" to see all messages the author has contributed.
  7. If you want to open all the messages, click the "Change to Flat View" link. In Flat View, you can select the message order as "Oldest First" or "Newest First".
  8. To see more messages per page, select an amount in the "per page" drop-down list (bottom of the page).
  9. To go to another page of messages (if available), click the left or right arrow (bottom of the page).
  10. To read the next or previous message thread, click "Next Thread" or "Prev Thread".
  11. To navigate back to previous Message Board screens, you can click any of the links shown in the path (top of the window).

CRespond to messages or print them.

  1. In an open message, click the Reply icon.
  2. Type the message reply. You'll be notified when someone responds to your message, unless you clear the alert checkbox.
  3. If desired, type one or more surnames that appeared in the message.
  4. Select a classification type from the drop-down list.
  5. To learn more about creating effective message posts, click the "What is this" link.
  6. To include an attachment, click Choose File and navigate to the file.
  7. To preview your post, click "Preview". When you're ready, click Post to send the message.

DCreate your own message thread.

  1. In an open thread or message, click Begin New Thread.
  2. Fill in the Subject line and other fields as explained in Choice C above.
  3. To learn more about creating effective message posts, click the "Board FAQ" link (top of the page).
  4. To preview your post, click "Preview". When you're ready, click Post to send the message.

Goal 3: Use Member Connect to collaborate with other Ancestry members.

The Member Connect feature helps you stay in touch with other Ancestry members who are researching common ancestors.


AExplore Member Connect.

  1. In the top menu, click Help and select Community.
  2. In the center panel, click Member Connect.
  3. Read the information on the Introducing Member Connect page. You can watch a brief video on this page, as well as see examples of the notifications that Member Connect provides (bottom of the page).
  4. Click the See New Activity tab and read the text under the tabs.
  5. Click the Add to Your Tree tab and read the text under the tabs.
  6. For more details on Member Connect, see this page.

Goal 4: Get involved with genealogical societies for information and support.

Genealogy societies publish magazines, offer support groups, and provide a wealth of family history information.


AFind genealogical societies in the United States.

  1. Read this article for an overview of U.S. genealogical societies.
    GC—Using Historical and Genealogical Societies
  2. Read this article from the FamilySearch Wiki about U.S. genealogical societies.
  3. This article suggests three genealogical societies every genealogist should join.
    3 Genealogy Societies Every Serious Genealogist Should Join
  4. Here are eight reasons for joining a genealogical society.
    8 Reasons to Join a Genealogical Society—5:23
  5. Learn about popular online genealogy magazines and what they offer.
    GI—Top 10 Popular Online Genealogy Magazines

Instructor Tips

BFind international genealogical societies.

  1. Explore the FGS website (Federation of Genealogical Societies) for information about societies.
  2. See a list of genealogy societies on the Ancestry site.
  3. Refer to the "Get Help" goals in most of the Project 4 Country Pages for information about genealogy societies and social media groups for specific countries.
  4. See Project 4: Discover, Goal 1, Choice D for tips on writing to individuals and organizations for genealogy help.

Goal 5: Collaborate with others doing family history work. Vault

Working with others helps you get more done on your own work, as well as giving you the chance to help others. In the process, your data usually becomes more reliable, and you may form lasting friendships with those you partner with in family history.


AShare your family history efforts.

Remember to get permission from living individuals if you share their information.

  1. Watch these videos for ideas on sharing your family history information with others.
    AC—Quick Ways to Share Family History—15:31
    | FS—Share with Others—3:08
  2. Learn how blogging and social networking can help you collaborate on family history.
    BYU—Blogging and Social Networking for Genealogists—62:53

    How to Network with Family Members Using Social Media for Genealogy Research
  3. See also for building a collaborative family tree.
  4. Join the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. You'll receive weekly prompts on ways you can share your family history findings with others.
  5. 2017-12-31

BWork with others on family history.

  1. Get family members or friends involved in collecting memories (photos, documents, stories, etc.) to be uploaded to FamilySearch.
  2. Divide up family lines for research, to avoid duplication of effort.
  3. Keep each other informed about progress achieved as well as roadblocks that remain.
  4. Get help from others online who are researching the same names. Watch this video for tips.
    FS—Get Help from Others Researching the Same Name—3:59
  5. Study these resources for additional ideas about working with others on family history.
    AC—Quick Tips for Increasing Collaboration—32:08

    FS—Crowdsourcing Collaboration
  6. Watch this video to learn how you can use descendancy research to find distant cousins who may want to help you with your research.
    FS—Descendancy Research—65:00
  7. Read this article to learn how to contact other FamilySearch collaborators. FS—Collaborating with Other FamilySearch Contributors  |   ES  
  8. Join the RootsWeb Surname List (RSL) to keep in touch with others who are researching the same surnames as you are.

Instructor Tips

COrganize or participate in family gatherings that promote family history.

  1. Try a "family tree gathering"—a meeting of family members to discuss and work on family history. Read this article for ideas.
    LDS—What's a Family Tree Gathering?
  2. Plan for successful family history reunions.
    GC—Tips for the Size and Shape of Your Reunion
    | GC—Sharing Family History at the Reunion
  3. Involve and include more family members in family history activities.
    LDS—Put the Family in Family History
    | GC—What Should We Do at the Reunion?

DJoin an online user group or forum for a genealogy website.

Here are some noted user groups and online communities for genealogy and family history:

  1. Post your genealogy queries on to get assistance from other researchers. You can also browse queries by country, region, or surname.
  2. Explore the GenForum Message Board for answers to questions.
  3. On Facebook, contact the RootsMagic user group or the Legacy Family Tree user group for answers to questions on their respective software versions.
Instructor Tips

ECreate or join a family association.

  1. Read the article for an introduction to family associations.
    GC—Family Associations 101
  2. Learn about effective ways to run a family association.
    GC—Running a Family Association
  3. Create a Facebook group for your family.
    FS—Facebook and Family History
  4. Publish a periodical for your family association.
    GC—Publishing a One-Family Periodical

Goal 6: Publish a family history.

Creating an organized and published history of your family can be an inspiration for generations to come. You can publish it online or in printed format, and there are many good examples of published family histories you can draw on for ideas.


ADecide on a Table of Contents for the history.

Be sure to spend adequate time planning, writing, and revising the Table of Contents, as it's the foundation for organizing the work that will be published.

  1. Select the ancestors who will be highlighted in the history.
  2. Select the topics to be included, for each ancestor and in general.
    GC—Choose Your Family Book's Focus
    | GC—Creating a Family History Book

Instructor Tips

BWrite the history.

  1. Watch this video for tips on writing content for your family history project.
    BYU—Writing a Family History—24:43
  2. Here are 10 steps to writing an effective family history.
    AB—10 Steps to Writing Your Family History
  3. 2017-10-06
  4. Read this article for additional tips on writing content for your family history project.
    Secret to Writing a Compelling Family History
  5. Watch this video for steps to writing and publishing a family history.
    AA—10 Steps to Publishing a Family History—62:00
  6. Understand the basic copyright issues for genealogists.
    AA—Copyright Essentials for Genealogists—50:39

C(Optional) Publish the history.

  1. Here are some ideas for publishing your family history book.
    AB—Publishing Your Family History Book
  2. 2017-10-06
  3. Watch this video for ideas on publishing a finished family history.
    AC—Publishing a Family History—26:08