27 October 2009

Finding old Geocities pages

Geocities is gone! Yahoo have closed it. A news item is at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8325749.stm.

Over the years many genealogists have put their family tree information onto a free Geocities website. Others have posted transcriptions and data of genealogical interest.

All your careful citations of Geocities sources will go for nothing if there's no copy of the original. However, some of it may have been captured by the Internet Archive's Wayback machine at www.archive.org/web/web.php. The url in the citation will come in handy as that's the only way to retrieve information from the Wayback machine, there's no way to search the full text.

In many cases the versions captured by the Wayback machine are more than several years old. It may be that the site hadn't been updated for some while as Geocities went out of fashion.

Even if you don't have the old Geocities url all may not be lost. I had success doing a simple Google search for the terms I expected to find in the Geocities page and was able to find a website which gave the link to the Geocities page address. Taking that address and plugging it into the Wayback machine retrieved an old version of the Geocities page. It didn't work every time. Some pages are seemingly lost and gone forever.

If Google doesn't work for you try searching for a mention in the Rootsweb mailing lists at http://lists.rootsweb.ancestry.com/

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