Thursday, August 9, 2007

Find Locations -- Create Your Own Wiki

In the course of our family history research, we often find location names that we don't think we'll ever find. The locations are often just wide spots in the road, a cemetery name or a very small community. How do we find where they are located? Here are some good websites to help in our location quest.

Do you want to see a small map, the latitude, longitude and similar info
on nearby features in U.S. locations? Try Choose a state, then type in the location name. I just searched for a tiny old cemetery in Elgin, Utah. I've visited the location and viewed the few remaining headstones several times over the years. Surely, the Elgin Cemetery wouldn't show up on my search. But, much to my delight, there it was, mapped on my screen.

Next, I decided to look at to test its ability to find unique locations. A search for Moore, Utah wasn't quite difficult as the search for the cemetery, but there are only two or three homes left in Moore. You could say that current day Moore is Less. Again, I was pleasantly surprised with the results of my search. Links to maps, latitude, longitude, elevation and many other links were associated with the results of my search. "Hey, this is great! Two sites that really work!"

Could there be a site that gives locations in Germany, family history resources there and other valuable research links and data? You bet. It is located at gov.

Another great Danish records site is fully functional now. It does have time constraints on its operating hours, but the results of your search is usually fruitful. Try Arkivalieronline if you are researching in Denmark. Click on the 'English' button on the left side of the screen if you can't read Danish for help in creating a free login and the typical words that we look for in our ancestral quest.

If you still haven't found your Danish Ancestry, try the Danish Parish Registers site on rootsweb. It even gives you a street guide by census year.

If you are like me, you wish you knew what research resources are available in libraries near you and in locations where you may be doing research. To find them, be sure to visit the WorldCat site. I looked for information on the small town of Copperopolis, California. My search results were surprising. There are books about Copperopolis in libraries all over the country about this little town and all were listed as results to my search.

Lastly, if you have wished that you had a handy place to record hints, how to's, detailed instructions, etc., on your computer using an easily accessible tool, here's the answer. We're all familiar with Wikipedia and know how easy it is to use, so why not write our own Wiki? It's easy. Write your own Wiki that contains your hints, tips, or anything else. Put a link to it on your desktop and you access it anytime by pressing the Windows key and 'D' at the same time.

Does that sound hard? Actually,it is easy to do -- in fact it is no harder than writing notes in your notebook. Just download Wixi, (for PC's it's the file with Win-32 in the name), create a folder on your computer and unzip the file in it. If you want a shortcut on your desktop, open Windows Explorer, find the folder you just created, and point at the Wixi.exe file. Right click on it and choose 'Send to Desktop' from the list. A shortcut has just been created on your desktop. Double click on the new shortcut icon and then on the word 'Index' in your new Wiki.

Congratulations! You now have a your own personal, albeit blank Wiki. You can add as many pages as you want. Read the simple instructions on the first page and soon you'll find that you have written hundreds of pages containing the information you always wanted at your fingertips. Oh, by the way, a second congratulations is in order. You are also now a mini 'geek'. Wear the title with pride.