5 reasons to use Wikipedia for genealogy


Wikipedia used to be the one places teachers and professors would NEVER let student pull research from … for various reasons. I remember those days, not fondly. 

Now, however, Wikipedia is one of the best online resources we have. It has replaced the need from my 27+ volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica that I used to pour over … but, I still have these, too. Wikipedia has a pretty serious quality control system now, so I have no issues whatsoever using it my genealogical research. I also don’t mind if my students use is as a resource, either ­čÖé

Wikipedia can be useful in a lot of ways.

Reasons to use Wikipedia in genealogy 

5. Learn about or remind yourself of various eras in history as you’re researching ancestors. This will give you a little added perspective on their lives.   

4. Put together timelines of historical events, again providing a little more perspective. 

3. Determine the origin of surnames you’re researching. You’d be surprised what kind of hidden gems can be found just by researching a name. 

2. Learn about where your ancestors originated, baring in mind that place names often change throughout history. 

And … number 1 … my favorite reason for using Wikipedia is to help pull together my family tree. You can do that, too, if you have notables, nobility, or royalty in your ancestry. Popular people throughout history have been well documented. Royal lines have been well documented. Scandalous people have been well documented. Tap into that information on Wikipedia. Don’t forget to look at the resources listed, too. You’ll find even more places to go hunting.

I was able to trace the early Lindsays once I “crossed the pond”, so to speak … once I had the first ancestor who arrived in America, I was able to use Wikipedia to build the rest of the tree branch working backward. Oh, the information that is available! 

I’ve done this with several of my more notable family tree branches. Apparently, I hail from a long line of Scottish nobility and royalty, so I’ve had an easier time tracing these folks. 

Now, if Wikipedia could tell me how to get a new tiara, I’d be a happy girl!

Enjoy your hunt! 


2 Replies to "5 reasons to use Wikipedia for genealogy"

  • comment-avatar
    Jo Henn June 28, 2015 (11:35 pm)

    I like to use wikipedia for my family history research, too. I’ve used it mostly for #5 and #2. Thank you for giving me further ideas in how to use it. I wanted to tell you that I’ve included it in my Noteworthy Reads for this week: http://jahcmft.blogspot.com/2015/06/noteworthy-reads-19.html

    • comment-avatar
      Niki Davis July 3, 2015 (8:49 am)

      Thanks! I’m glad you were able to find a few more ideas!

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