Kimmitt Genealogical Research

18 February 2011

Cyndi's List Turns 15 on March 4th, 2011!

Quick, where is the first place you go when confronted with a new locality or time period in your genealogical research? (OK, maybe I gave it away.) Oh sure, you could try Google or Wikipedia, but where can you get at all things genealogical in one fell swoop? Everyone knows it's Cyndi will point us to the vital records, county histories, maps, yearbooks, diaries, photos, and ever so much more. That's where you go when you don't know what your're looking for. Really!

It's not easy managing information. Personally, I think it is one of the biggest obstacles to our research in the internet era. We've all been so excited to see records being digitized and uploaded that we often neglect the awesome responsibility of making them accessible in a clean and efficient way. How can you  use them if you can't find them? Thankfully, Cyndi is here to show us the way. I'm just realizing it as I write, but my own bookmarks are arranged in a manner similar to Cyndi's website, on a much smaller scale, bien sûr, but I believe I've been unconsciously modeling after her setup!

Cyndi's List has been online since March 4, 1996! I find this amazing. I remember thinking how young she was at the time. What a remarkable feat! It's probably the oldest bookmark in my browser. In 1996 half of my friends didn't have a clue what the internet even was! Just now I was browsing through the site looking at things I don't usually consult and found her business timeline. It's fascinating to witness how Cyndi took what was originally a 6-page list of websites and turned it into the ultimate genealogist's research finding aid. By 1998 she was being featured in The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, well on her way to giving Cyndi's List a solid footing in the American vernacular. 

And she's still around, more valuable than ever. Every genealogist who uses the web MUST use Cyndi's List. Do you ever question if you've actually checked every single thing available on the web? I do it all the time! And when I get that nagging self-doubt welling up in my bosom, it is Cyndi that either reassures me I have, or leads me to one more resource. If I have a client who wants to help with the research, or learn more, I sent him to Cyndi's List first thing, just to explore. It's amazing how much you can learn there.

Here are a few facts about Cyndi's List by modest Cyndi herself, with my brash comments after them in purple:

Why Donate Money to Cyndi's List?

•   In the beginning there were 1,025 links. Today there are more than 290,000. And who do you think has to keep those 290,000 links current? One person: Cyndi! That is a LOT of links to correct, because we all know how frequently they change. It's a gruelling, Sisyphean task that she cheerily embraces day after day.

•   This site continues to be one of the top research spots online for genealogy. It really is. This isn't hype. It's free, it's super easy to navigate, extremely thorough, up-to-date, and it teaches you as you navigate! Oh, did I mention that it's free?

•   Cyndi's List has always been free for everyone to use. I love how Cyndi is adamant about not charging money for her website. Very noble. But hard to maintain in today's economy, and especially in today's market where genealogy has hit the big time. How has a one-woman show managed to still maintain that top spot for so many years?

•   To date, Cyndi's List has been supported solely by advertisements. And we are so lucky for that. Are you the type that uses shareware until the free trial period is over and drops it? Do you ignore when programmers ask you for a mere $15 in return for using their brilliant piece of software? Well, it's easy to gloss over Cyndi's tiny little donate button, too, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't all just throw something her way now and then. I don't know what I'd do if her site weren't there.

•   This site is in the process of a major upgrade, the first since 1998. Yes! Coming fresh off the first RootsTech ever, I am delighted that Cyndi is looking toward the future! This is great news.

•   Goals for upgrading would include easier use for both the administrator and site visitors, making adding and updating links a quicker process for everyone. Improved navigation and other features are also on the to-do list. Yesssss! More links, more links!

•   Cyndi's List is a one-woman business. Upgrading is very expensive. Your donations would help the site to grow and expand, thus making your searching much easier and more productive. She's so polite! the woman obviously loves what she does, is dedicated and has made our world a better place. 

I appreciate all the support and encouragement users of Cyndi's List continue to give me each day. Thank you! And thank you, Miss Cyndi. You provide us with a great resource!

Happy Birthday, Cyndi's List, and many Happy Returns of the Day! And to the rest of the genealogical community, get on out there and donate! Let's see how much we can raise for the site before the big day!

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