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Genealogy & Family History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for enthusiasts and experts to share their knowledge and build their skills while researching genealogy, family history, and related topics in microhistory. With your help, we're building a comprehensive library of answers to questions about genealogy and family history.

If your question is about:

  • Starting your research or improving your methodology
  • Finding a source or understanding how to use it
  • Documenting or presenting what you’ve learned
  • Breaking down brick-walls in your family tree
  • Using technology to support your research

and it is not about:

  • Locating identifiable living individuals
  • Comparing, or making lists of, different genealogy databases, utilities, hosting services, etc.
  • Developing genealogy software
  • Celebrity or biblical genealogy
  • General history

then you’re in the right place. We welcome questions at all levels, and you can expect a range of answers from very basic to highly technical, depending on how you phrase your question. The community tends to respond better to questions that show you have already done some research (at least used a search engine or consulted a dictionary) before asking for help.

Please note: You must not include here in any circumstances information (including name, date and place of birth or any other details) that would allow identification of any living (or possibly) living individual by somebody reading this site. In practice, this means details about anyone born in the last 100 years, whether they are believed to be deceased or not, and whether or not they have given their permission.

How to ask questions about people born less than 100 years ago

Our privacy policy is designed to prevent "identification of any living (or possibly living) individual by somebody reading this site" and is not intended to prevent you asking questions that may relate to someone born during the past 100 years. However, to ask such questions we ask you to proceed cautiously.

  1. If you already know that the person was born more than 100 years ago, simply by stating that means that the privacy policy will not apply so that you can provide details freely. Including the name, date and place of birth, etc is fine and usually very helpful.

  2. If you already know (or suspect) that the person was born less than 100 years ago, and you know that they are dead, then you may include identification details such as name, date and place of birth, etc., but you must also provide evidence to us that they are dead.

  3. If you know (or suspect) that the person is still alive, then under no circumstances should such identification details be included.

Acceptable evidence of death needs to come from some official or semi-official source such as an entry on a death-registration / grave / cemetery / obituary site. A website link (URL) should be provided wherever possible. Regrettably personal recollection is not sufficient to show that we have done our best to protect people's privacy.

If you are in any doubt as to whether your evidence of death would stand up, then hold back the identifying details, and describe the type of evidence so that other users can help you assess it via comments.

The figure of 100 years has been chosen as a "best-fit" with policies across the globe.

Subjective questions are allowed, as long as they are on-topic and constructive, but subjective does not mean “anything goes”. Remember that answers should explain 'why' and 'how', and be backed up either with facts and references, or experiences that happened to you personally.

In particular, if you wish to ask which genealogy software has a feature, then your question should conform to the software recommendation question asking guidelines developed by the Stack Exchange experts in making Software Recommendations.

Please look around to see if your question has been asked before. It’s also OK to ask and answer your own question.

If your question is not specifically on-topic for Genealogy Stack Exchange, it may be on topic for another Stack Exchange site. If no site currently exists that will accept your question, you may commit to or propose a new site at Area 51, the place where new Stack Exchange communities are democratically created.

For more help, see "What types of questions should I avoid asking?"

A note on 'lookup requests'

Questions asking for somebody to perform a lookup on a site/at an archives that is not accessible to the asker will be closed as off-topic, or (if part of a wider question) edited to remove the lookup request.

This is because:

  • Lookup requests are never useful to anyone except the requester, which is contrary to our aim "to build a comprehensive library of answers to questions about genealogy and family history" intended to have wide relevance to all family history and genealogy researchers.

  • Many online record providers have Terms of Service and/or copyright restrictions that prohibit or limit performing searches for other individuals and/or publishing the results of such searches online. We are not willing to condone blatantly asking members of our community to breach the Terms of Service for websites they use and/or relevant laws.

But, I NEED a lookup!

You have a few options.

  • If you know exactly what you want and where it is, try Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness or another site which links people offering to do lookups with people needing a lookup.

  • Hire a professional researcher, or pay an archive to provide a copy of a record -- this may be the best option if you're physically unable to visit some archives and RAOGK etc. have not provided results for a simple lookup.

  • Ask a question that describes what you're trying to achieve, what sources you've already consulted, and what sources you haven't consulted (yet) and why.

Answers may:

  1. Suggest alternative approaches to meet your research needs (including accessible online sources that you weren't aware of).
  2. Advise you of an online source for the information you seek, without actually reproducing the search results.
  3. Provide a transcription or partial image of a relevant source (with details of where it comes from) -- in which case we trust the person answering to ensure they're compliant with ToS/relevant laws when they do this.

Answers that explain how to find the information are more useful than answers that simply provide the information.