by Steve Paul Johnson
January 16, 2002
CousinConnect is the newest place on the Internet to post your
queries. But it's also a great way to get help finding out where
someone is buried, or to request photographs of tombstones.
Posting queries is something that genealogists do to field answers
and assistance from the general public. When you're stuck researching
a particular ancestor, posting a query might put you in contact
with a distant cousin or anyone else that have some information
In the past, queries were published in journals, magazines, and
newsletters targeted to specific regions and surnames. If you know
your hard-to-find ancestor lived in Kentucky, you would have posted
your query in a publication targeted to Kentucky genealogy.
|Screen shot of homepage. Click to enlarge
queries to the Internet, allowing users to search by surname, across
all countries, states, and counties.
Posting queries online is nothing new. In the old days when electronic
bulletin boards reigned, people uploaded their "tiny tafels".
The RootsWeb Surname List is probably one of the oldest and largest
on the Internet. But the "tiny tafels" and the RSL are
not true queries in the classic sense. GenConnect was probably the
best place to post queries, but since it was absorbed into the present
day Ancestry Message Board, users are now deluged with off-topic
posts, pop-up ads, and commercial messages. GenForum is another
example of a message board system.
CousinConnect resembles something of a return to the old GenConnect,
but is still quite unique. It is not a message board, it's actually
more of a database, which makes it nice because you are no longer
deluged with off-topic posts and commercial messages. It's just
|Search results page. Click to enlarge.
Another nice aspect of CousinConnect is that you can write just
one query and have it posted into several regions. On GenConnect
and GenForum you had to write a separate message for each region,
which made things difficult when you have 15 regions to post into.
It also clogged up the search results with multiple hits of the
same message. On CousinConnect, each query is just one record, and
will only show up once during a search.
CousinConnect is also the first to provide query submitters with
total anonymity. Submitters' e-mail addresses are not displayed
to the public. Instead, an online e-mail form is used to correspond
to the submitter which hides the e-mail address. It's only when
the submitter returns a response that their identity will be known.
This allows genealogists to post queries without giving away their
identity and without allowing undesirable people from gaining their
|Add a query page. Click to enlarge.
CousinConnect gives genealogists the power to add, edit, and delete
their queries instantaneously. If you happen to make a typing error,
you can easily make corrections. No longer are you stuck with a
post that you cannot change or remove.
One feature that seems rather useful is that it provides each submitter
with a special URL that directs people to their queries. You can
post the URL into your e-mail signature or your website, and when
people click on it, they can review all your queries. Thus, if you
happen to meet someone that you think may be able to help you, they
review your queries, and then e-mail you from within CousinConnect.
The Cemetery Tie-in
Ok, how can CousinConnect help you find out where someone is buried,
and how can it help you find someone who will photograph a tombstone?
Well, the perhaps the answer is now clear.
You can post a query on CousinConnect requesting help. There already
have been several queries posted specifically dealing with locating
burial sites. Create a query identifying the surnames associated
with the people you are looking for, and select the geographic regions
they were located in.
If you would like to find a volunteer to photograph a tombstone,
indicate the surname of the ancestor you want, and clearly indicate
the name of the cemetery, where it is located, the full name of
the ancestor, their dates of birth and death, and if you have it,
the section, row, and plot number of the grave. You might also want
to mention that you will pay for all expenses if necessary.
- Steve Paul Johnson
You can visit CousinConnect at http://www.cousinconnect.com.