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Genealogical Mailing List

Genealogical mailing lists are email groups for genealogists to discuss specific genealogy topics. There are mailing lists about a wide variety of topics, including adoptions, cemeteries, religions, ethnic groups, software programs, surnames, military, records, and more. Mailing lists are similar to message boards, except that posts are sent and received through email.

You may wish to create your own mailing list to fulfill the need for a topic area that isn’t already yet established. Your own mailing list can encourage discussions about the topic you are researching. Beginning a new mailing list is not difficult, although it can be time-consuming.

Once you know what you want to create a mailing list about, you will need to find a source to host the mailing list on. Rootsweb is the most popular website for creating genealogical mailing lists. Other popular sources are ListServe and Yahoo Groups.

You can make your mailing list either open or closed. Open means that anyone, even nonmembers, can post to the mailing list. This often leads to a lot of spam (unsolicited emails, usually advertising a product or service). Therefor, it is recommended that you create a closed mailing list. This requires that anyone who posts has to become a member of the list first.

Once you set up your mailing list with the hosting source of your choice, you should create a welcome message that will be sent automatically to any new member of the mailing list. In your message, you may want to provide information about your vision for the mailing list, contact information, and links to resources pertaining to the topic. It is also a good idea to establish a set of rules for the mailing list within your welcome message. Rules may include the use of caps lock, language, spam, and limits to what can be discussed.

If you want to establish a list of members quickly, you will probably have to promote your mailing list. This can be done through message boards (be sure that this sort of promotion is allowed or it may be considered spam), by emailing your genealogical contacts, establishing a social networking presence for the mailing list, or posting ads on online classified sites, such as Craigslist.org. You should also add your list to any mailing list directories that you can, including the directory provided by your list’s hosting source.

Once your mailing list has some members, it is important that there is regular activity to your mailing list in order to keep members subscribed and to encourage new members to join. The more activity that your mailing list has, either by posts created by you or your members, the more helpful the list will be.