About Queries & Look Ups
What is a Query?
A genealogical query is an inquiry about an ancestral surname, a family
line, or other genealogy related question. Posting a query can help you
connect with other researchers that may have the information you are
looking for, and you can help them with their research in return. If the
county is unknown, be sure to check other counties as well.
Websites within The USGenWeb Project vary in
options for posting queries, some provide a way to have them posted on-site,
while others provide links to sites that are not part of The USGenWeb
Project. If a project offers on-site queries, follow the directions shown
for that project, each project sets their own rules for submitting a query.
The project coordinator is not obligated to research the queries, only to
post them on their site if that is offered.
HOW TO FORMAT A QUERY
- A Clear and concise subject line
- Surname, location, date(s)
- One surname per query
- Birth, Marriage, Death dates
- No unnecessary information
- No information not directly related
- Do not include a whole family tree.
- Consider the audience. Format your query as required for the
particular venue you choose. Each site will have its own rules.
It is always wise to be familiar, in advance, of posting a query. That
includes viewing/subscribing or following a newsgroup or FaceBook activity
before posting so you understand what is expected of you and what you can
expect of others.
Make sure you check Cyndi's List
https://www.cyndislist.com/ of Queries & Message Boards for other places to
post your query. The more you post the more chance you have of connecting
with a person who can help!
WHAT INFORMATION SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN A
Whether you are posting to a mailing list, message board or
requesting your query be posted on a website, your query should be a concise
short paragraph that clearly defines the information you are seeking. It may
help to post your query on multiple sites, there are useful links at the end
of the query section.
Here are some tips:
- Many sites limit queries to 1 or 2 ancestors.
- Do not include excessive or unrelated information.
- Do not attach files to your request, or include extensive genealogies.
- Capitalize SURNAMES so they stand out, include maiden names for females, and be open to alternate spellings.
- If you do not know an exact date or year, give an approximate date range.
- The location where your ancestor lived is useful in locating information about them.
- Include parents, spouse and children's names to help identify the individual you are interested in.
- USGenWeb coordinators are volunteers and have responsibilities outside of this project, it could take some time for your query to be posted. If a
significant amount of time has passed and your query has not been posted, send a follow-up email to remind them.
AN EXAMPLE OF A QUERY
- Subject: Oliver KINLEY of Tama Co IA, 1865
- Researching Civil War service information for Oliver Cromwell KINLEY, b. 1844, d. 1923, served in 10th IA Inf, Co I. His father Frederick also served in that unit. Will share
information I have with interested researchers, contact MAS at
WHERE ELSE CAN I POST A QUERY?
HOW DO I REQUEST A LOOKUP?
- The lookup section of a website should contain
instructions for contacting the lookup volunteers, and any requirements they
have for requests. Generally, you would send an email to the lookup
volunteer and indicate the reference material you wish searched. Be sure to
include information for the ancestor you are researching, such as their
name, a location, and dates.
- Consider thanking the volunteer for their
efforts even if no information was found, and if you have reference
materials that may help others, sign up to be a lookup volunteer.
ELSE CAN I REQUEST A LOOKUP?
Updated by AB June 2021
Comments and administrative-type problems should be emailed to the
National Coordinator. For
suggestions, concerns or complaints regarding a specific web site within
the USGenWeb Project, please email the
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