Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Finding the Data from Geocities Sites

Geocities, home of many genealogy websites, is closing. Unfortunately, some webmasters may not move their sites before it does.

One reason is that webmasters may not be aware that Geocities is closing. It doesn't appear that Geocities is notifying their webmasters by email. Instead, the only notice Geocities is giving is a message about the closing when a webmaster logs into the Geocities file manager. Some webmasters haven't logged into the file manager for years!

Unless a Geocities webmaster reads about the closing on the news or in a blog, they might not know it is happening. If you know someone with a Geocities site, write to them to let them know Geocities is closing. Otherwise, they may find out about the closing too late to save their site.

There are many, many genealogy related sites on Geocities. When I searched Google for:
site:geocities.com ~genealogy
I got 1,090,000 genealogy related results on Geocities. That's a lot of genealogy on Geocities.


If you have not yet explored geocites sites, there is no time like the present to get started.

Use the command in the Google searchbox:
site:www.geocities.com ~genealogy

This will find genealogy related sites on Geocities. (See Google and the tilde for info about using the tilde in a Google search)

Add a surname and/or a town, county or state to the command to further narrow your search.


site:www.geocities.com ~genealogy smith pennsylvania


Bookmark all the Geocities sites that are important to your genealogy research. Use the exact name of the site when you create the bookmark. Extract the relevant information and use the geocities URL as a citation.


Why bookmark? Once Geocities closes, there are four ways to possibly retrieve a Geocities site for further research.


  • Search for the name of the site in quotes. Most webmasters will not change the name of their site when they move the site. Remember when you bookmark a Geocities site to use the exact name of the site as listed on the webpage.

  • Cache - use the command cache:http:www.geocities.com/genealogysite in the Google search box. The cache wont be there for long after Geocities closes, but it is worth a try.

  • Internet Archive - Search for the URL or exact name of the site. You will find archived webpages from various dates, but the Internet Archive doesn't always save all the interior pages of a site.

  • Search for the Geocities site URL in Google in case the webmaster has listed the former Geocities URL on his new site.

Remember to spread the word about the Geocities closing to Geocities webmasters so that genealogy info on Geocities can be preserved.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

This is why it's always so important to back up your website databases on a regular basis! If your webhost closes unexpectedly or experiences technical difficulties that affect your site, you'll be able to upload it somewhere else without losing any data!

It's a good idea to back up your websites at least once a month, but once a week is even better.

Stephanie at the Irish Family History blog