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Cyberspace Roots

The
KyGenWeb genealogy database project is an all-volunteer effort
that uses computers and the Internet, changing forever how people
search for their family’s roots. The Kentucky project was the
model for what has become the USGenWeb, which includes all 50
states, and a WorldGenWeb forum for international researchers.

Genealogists-both professional
and amateur-have responded to the project with enthusiasm. There
is no charge to post or retrieve information. It’s all about
sharing.

“I felt like they put the
USGenWeb there just for me,” says Barbara Marks, a family
genealogist in Madison County. “I submitted a query on the
Whitley County site, asking if anyone knew my
great-great-great-grandfather,” Marks recalled.

A few days later, she received
an e-mail message from a woman in Florida who turned out to be her
seventh cousin.

“We genealogists spend
all of our time trying to find dead ancestors, but it’s much more
exciting to find live relatives,” Marks says.

Eric James, of Dana Point,
California, has been able to trace his ancestors’ Westward
movement through Kentucky and other states using the USGenWeb
project. One of the benefits he enjoys is the sometimes rigorous
review by peer genealogists.

“Too much genealogy on the Web is casual, misleading,
false, and unsupported by legitimate factual research,” James says. When
serious genealogists using the database spot glaring errors, they are quick to
post messages correcting mistakes.

How It Began

Nancy Trice, a Hopkins
County resident and one of the KyGenWeb project’s founders, first
ventured onto the Internet in February 1996. “After 25 years
of research, I had so much information I wanted to share with
others,” she says. Trice saw immediately that the World Wide
Web was the perfect place for such a database.

The determination of Trice and
other volunteers made the database project a reality in just a few
months.

The KyGenWeb pilot was
received with enormous enthusiasm from the online genealogy
community. By June 1996, the USGenWeb was being formed, which was
soon followed by the WorldGenWeb spin-off.

As Kentucky’s state
coordinator, Trice is involved in all aspects of the KyGenWeb
project. She maintains the state home page that provides
researchers with a single entry point to the state’s 120 counties.

The database exists today
because thousands of volunteers have come forward to host pages
and to submit data to those pages.

There are about 110 volunteer
county page coordinators and their assistants who maintain
Kentucky’s 120 county KyGenWeb sites.

“The best part about
doing the page is the notion that I am helping to map the history
of this county and its people,” says Carole Jones Palmer, who
maintains the Webster County page.

Another avid county-page
sponsor is Pam Carey Durstock who lives in Boone County but hosts
the Mercer County page.

“Somebody had to do it…I
figured it might as well be me,” she says.

Finding your web roots

KyGenWeb: www.rootsweb.org/~kygenweb/.

To reach other states in the USGenWeb project, simply replace
“ky” with the postal abbreviation for that state.

For other nations, go to the WorldGenWeb project at

www.worldgenweb.org/.

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