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CousinConnect.com

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 for you.

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

CousinConnect.com brings 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 "queries only".

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 e-mail addresses.

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.

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