There is no denying that FamilySearch.org is a fabulous resource. Do you remember, not so long ago, when FamilySearch had their forums up and running? I used that resource a lot as I delved into unknown Danish territory – records I had never used written in a language I couldn’t speak – and had many questions with no local support to obtain answers. I was very unhappy when the forums closed.
Well, that hole has pretty much closed, but it seems that this new resource – a true GeneaGem – not only isn’t put to good use by most family history researchers, but many people I’ve talked to aren’t even aware that it exists.
What is this resource? It is the Family History Research Wiki. Here is a screen shot of the home page:
Let’s say I need help with Danish resources, so I entered “Denmark” in the search box. There were actually over 3000 hits for “Denmark,” but I am mainly interested in online resources right now and that was hit #3.
One of the best features for me has been the link to online resources for whatever place I’m researching. The list for Denmark is quite lengthy so it will take two screen shots to share it:
This wiki page contains links to Vital Records, Censuses, Emigration Records, History/Genealogies, Maps, Obituaries, Occupational Records, Pictures, Probate Records and Tax Records. Take a close look at some of the website links – Arkivalieronline, Danish Emigration Archives, Politiets Register Blade and others. There are many links to sites that are not part of FamilySearch. I have seen links in the wiki that include $ signs after the link, indicating that the site is only accessible by subscription. For these Danish links, I see no $ signs and I know from personal use that the three examples I gave above are free to use.
How long do you think it might take to find these free Danish records via a manual search in English? It would take a while, I promise you. However, it isn’t necessary because FamilySearch wiki participants have done the work for me.
I tried a wiki search for Arizona and scrolled down to the Online Records. The Arizona Online Genealogy Records page is even longer than the one for Denmark. A quick glance showed a half dozen or so items with the $. All of them happened to link to Ancestry, but I have seen other links to Fold3 and a few other subscription sites. However, the huge majority of websites all have free access.
Besides online digitized records, what else can be found? A wiki is basically an online encyclopedia created by many participants so detailed information can often be found on topics that are somewhat obscure even for genealogists. For example, I began searching Danish records looking for my great grandmother’s family in Copenhagen. It turned out that her grandfather was a career Army musician who was stationed at Rosenborg Castle in the old part of Copenhagen. I needed to use Danish military levying rolls to trace him.
One of the wiki topics under Denmark is “laegdsruller” or the military levying rolls. Again, the page is very long, but here is a screen shot giving an idea of the depth of information provided:
Among the choices are nine articles, a detailed list (that begins at the bottom of the screen shot) on how to locate a person in the levying rolls and three case studies have been included in the bar on the left of the screen. I learned about laegdsruller thanks to the terrific staff in the Family History Library before this was available in the wiki. If I were first tackling this topic today, this would be a treasure trove of information available as I sit at my desk.
There is a notice in the right hand corner of the Wiki home page stating that changes will be coming to the wiki “in the near future.” This Community News item was posted just last week, on 12 June 2015. It seems the wiki will have a totally new look, but that no information will be deleted.
If you haven’t ever used the Family History Research Wiki, I would highly recommend taking some time to explore what is available for your own areas of interest. You may be very pleasantly surprised to find some new resources.