Tips for Following Genealogy Websites with Online Records

This is 7th in a series of articles on genealogy news blogging. Click here to read the 6th part in the series, Identify Organizations to Follow.

following websitesWebsites that publish collections online have many different ways to update their users – updates pages, blogs, simple news pages, and more. Additionally, each organization updates on its own schedule.

Because of all the differences in how sites keep us updated, there are a number of tools you’ll use to keep updated:

  • An RSS reader such as Feedly.
  • Your browser Favorites/Bookmarks.
  • An account on a change tracking website such as
  • Even your e-mail.

Identify how the sites you follow update their users, and these steps will help you be able to keep an eye on many sites easily.


Blog / RSS Feed

Many sites post news about new collections on their blogs, or through an RSS feed. To follow these sites, create a folder in your RSS/news reader where you will house all of the feeds that post about genealogy news in your area. When you add a new RSS feed, be sure to add it to this folder. (I’m guessing you know about RSS already, but just in case you can find a good explanation here.)

Second, when you visit a sites with a blog or RSS feed, subscribe to that RSS feed and add the feed to the new folder you created. Add a link to that specific folder in your Bookmarks so that it’s part of your schedule to check on a regular basis.

How do you know if a website has an RSS feed? Most sites use this icon to link you to their RSS feed, but your browser can also detect one if you have a plugin installed. It’s a handy tool to make sure you don’t miss something they don’t show.

  • In Chrome, install the RSS Subscription Extension.
  • In Firefox, install the RSS Icon Extension.
  • In Internet Explorer, the feature is built in. Turn the Command Bar “on.” The RSS icon there will show in orange if there is a feed. (To show the Command Bar, right click in the top area of the browser to see the different options to display. Select Command Bar if there isn’t a checkmark in front of it.)



Static News Page

Some organizations have a news page that doesn’t have an RSS feed, they just add a bit of news to the page when something new happens. When you come across a page like this, simply add it to your Bookmarks to check regularly. (Most make it easy to see what was added when, but if they don’t, use, described below.)



Collections page

Some genealogy websites have a collections page that shows a list of all of their collections. There are two ways that they are organized:

  • By date updated
    For these sites, set a Bookmark to go to the updates page and check it regularly.
    Examples: FamilySearch, Ancestry
  • By name, no date updated
    On these types of sites, it’s hard to know what was added when. This is where comes in handy. Set up an account there, and set it to monitor that page. Then, add a Bookmark to the results page on ChangeDetection to review on a regular basis. See how it works here.
    Example: Findmypast


Press Releases

Some of the larger organizations send out traditional press releases. Find their media contact and request to be added to the distribution list.

A lot of smaller organizations don’t send press releases, but would be happy to let you know when they make updates. Contact them as well and let them know that you would like to help spread the word when they publish records and information. Many will appreciate the help. But if they don’t respond at first, they may not understand what you are asking for and wary of your intentions. Don’t give up. Keep contacting them so they know you are serious.


Coming Next: More topics for genealogy news blogging


Binoculars – a working collection courtesy of jlcwalker, Flickr

RSS Icon courtesy of Ysangkok, Wikicommons

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