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For the Rest of Us
A guide for normal people


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FAMILY/PEOPLE

PARENTS

Raising Kids Parent Soup
http://www.parentsoup.com
This high-traffic, eclectic site is loaded with goodies. Features include daily live chat, an online guide, an Answers Now section and Parents' Picks. And folks with their own pages can link to Parent Soup's "Web Ring" -- a great networking chance.

Parents at Home
http://iquest.com/~jsm/moms
Stay-at-home moms and dads will want to check out this site during those precious nap-time minutes. It's filled with articles addressing the frustrations and joys of staying home with kids. Plus: forums, recommended reading, classified ads and links to a global pen-pal network and kid sites.

Parents and Children Together Online
http://www.indiana.edu/~eric_rec/fl/pcto/menu.html
This site is designed to draw parents and kids together in front of the putty-colored box. Filled with stories and news items designed to be read aloud by parents, the site also offers Global Campfire, where kids can add a few paragraphs to a growing, original Net-based story. Plus: articles on improving kids' reading and writing skills. Excellent links to other great sites for kids, parents and teachers.
-- Hope Katz Gibbs

GENEALOGY

Vital Records Information for the United States
http://www.inlink.com/~nomi/vitalrec
Yes, lots of genealogy information is available online, but all family historians eventually need ink-and-paper documents -- and finding out how to obtain them can be a huge time sink. At this useful site, click on any state name and categories will appear for birth, death, marriage and divorce records. Listed is the agency keeping them, how far back its records reach, the agency's postal address, telephone number and fees for copies (which you receive through the U.S. mail). There's also a database of the counties for almost all U.S. cities, an extremely valuable tool.

Social Security Death Index
http://www.ancestry.com/ssdi
One of the fastest ways to find info about a deceased family member, this is a repository of some 50 million names of people whose deaths were reported to the Social Security Administra-tion. Listed are birth and death dates, the city of last residence, Social Security number and more. Armed with an SSN, you can order a copy of the deceased's Social Security application (from SSA), a potential info gold mine.

Twenty Ways to Avoid Genealogical Grief
http://www.smartlink.com/~leverich/20ways.html
The title says it all: This succinct list of genealogy tips and pitfalls is useful for any amateur family tree-maker: Interview older relatives before "they're all gone and you're the older generation"; create a coherent system for filing all that paper; watch out for important historical changes in language (for example, in the 17th century a step-son was often called a "son-in-law").

Meta-site: Cyndi's List
http://www.oz.net/~cyndihow/sites.htm
Despite its 60 categories and nearly 19,000 links, the site is well-organized and cross-referenced, providing easy access to most key genealogy sites on the Internet for both beginners and experts.
-- Sarah Mark

FINDING LIVE PEOPLE

Four11
http://www.four11.com
The Internet is full of sites that claim to list tens of millions of people, homes, e-mail addresses and so on in the U.S./world/universe; of those sites, Four11 may have the most comprehensive database, and it lets you search for a wide variety of information types. (The "celebrity" category is mostly a sham.) The standard search form is simple and quick, and clicking on a disgorged name yields the full address.

Switchboard
http://www.switchboard.com
Simple to use: Choose "Find People" or "Find Businesses." This site avoids the fancy stuff like reverse directories and sortable street maps, but one cool feature allows you to search for people in organizations (but the list of groups is too incomplete to be very useful yet).

Pro CD
http://www.procd.com
The most difficult people-finder site to use, as it seems intent largely on supporting the company's eponymous phone number CD-ROMs. Cute touch: testimonials from people who have found their long-lost-whatevers through the service.

meta-site: 555-1212
http://www.555-1212.com
This one site provides access to all three major people-finder databases through a single interface. A handy quick-fill feature allows you to enter the same query into all the services in one pass.
-- Charles Bermant

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