Finding County Websites for Genealogical Research
Cliff Lamere 3 Dec 2003
National Non-Commercial Genealogy Organizations Which Maintain County Websites
USGenWeb (hosted by RootsWeb) - includes state GenWeb sites such as NYGenWeb
American History and Genealogy Project (AHGP)
American Local History Network (ALHN)
Sometimes the latter two have their county websites hosted by themselves, and sometimes they are hosted by USGenNet or RootsWeb.
Emphasis of this Webpage / How to Find a USGenWeb County Website
The emphasis of this webpage is on finding the county websites maintained by USGenWeb on RootsWeb, but directions will be given to allow you to find county websites of all three organizations.
There are two approaches to finding a USGenWeb county website on RootsWeb. You can go directly to the RootsWeb site that lists them all (see next), or you can rather accurately predict what the URL (address) will be by using the information on this webpage . The first method is clearly the better way to do it if you can remember the URL. The second method is easy to remember, can be tried quickly, and works the majority of the time.
Addresses of Most County Websites on RootsWeb
The great majority of the USGenWeb county websites listed on RootsWeb have had their URLs (addresses) constructed in the same way. Knowing that fact will allow you to guess at the URLs of county websites and get them correct most of the time. Here is an example of the URL for Columbia Co., NY:
Following the basic stem and ~ , there is a two-letter state code followed by the first six letters of the name of the county (they must be lower case). The part of the URL which varies from county to county is only 8 characters in length unless the county's name has fewer than six characters in it. Here is the URL for Erie Co., NY:
Before Windows, there was DOS which allowed a maximum of 8 characters in the name of a file, followed by a period and a three-character extension (for example genealog.doc ). If you look at files in most any Windows program today, they continue to follow the 8+3 pattern. I believe that this somehow relates to the origin of the 8 character state + county name. There is probably a very good reason RootsWeb uses that system. On the other hand, some Windows folders today are allowed to have more characters. And any file name that you create can have many more than 8 characters, even several words if you wish.
Some Counties Have a Second Website on RootsWeb
The URLs for these websites vary
in their style, but many just remove the eighth letter and replace it with a
occasion, I have searched for a second website in a county using this sort of name. Examples for Rensselaer Co., NY:
Find the Names of the Counties in Each State of the U.S.A.
Visit my webpage which names about 3070 counties in the U.S.A. If you don't remember a county's name, you can look it up there.
Addresses of County Websites Not on RootsWeb
If a county website is maintained by a business or an organization other than USGenWeb (which has its county websites on RootsWeb), the address may be completely different from the rootsweb sites. You cannot guess these. And to the best of my knowledge, they are not included in the list of county websites on RootsWeb, so you would have to be lucky to learn about those websites. A regional website such as mine is also very difficult to learn about.
One solution would be to subscribe to a county mailing list and ask for a list of the major websites relating to that county. Another possibility would be to do a search on http://www.google.com . A search for something like the following may get you positive results.
greene county NY genealogy
USGenWeb's Website Listing County Addresses
Just select the state, and then the county. This method has the advantage that it will find websites that don't use the standard format used by RootsWeb for naming websites.
County Websites Other Than USGenWeb
Click on the State, then on Counties
Click on the State, then on Counties
Sometimes these two organizations share the same county website.
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