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When you first go to GenForum, you're presented right away with the main categories of topics Message Boards. They fall into four groups:

  • Surnames, organized alphabetically
  • Regional, organized by country, state, and county
  • Computers and Software, organized according to the genealogy software programs
  • General Topics, organized alphabetically by topic, which includes forums for specific research areas like Quakers or the Civil War.

GenForum home page

You also have two types of searching available on this page. The Forum Finder will search for the name of a forum, such as "World War II." You can enter a partial name to get more results. If there is a direct match between your search and a forum name, GenForum will take you directly there. If there isn't a direct match, or if there is more than one possible match, it will give you a list of potential matches from which to choose.

GenForum search boxThe Search all of GenForum box at the bottom of the page does a much wider search — it goes through all of the postings on GenForum, looking at the title and the text of the post to find matches.

The Proximity matching check box is a tool that's most useful when searching for just a name — it checks not only that the first and last name of a person are in a post, but also checks to make sure they're near each other. If you are doing a more complex search, such as "John Smith 1900 Tennessee," you should probably leave this box unchecked.

Once you've found a forum that interests you, the next thing is to browse through the postings there to see if there is one that looks promising.

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