Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cyndi Howells - Cyndi's List


What is Cyndi's list you ask?

 A comprehensive, categorized & cross-referenced list of links that point you to genealogical research sites online. As of this morning (because it changes daily) there are 319,841 links on the site in 189 categories. What started out as a service project over 15 yrs ago, now consumes the life of this one woman show. It seems to be an impossible task for one person, but requires organization and dedication. There is not enough praise that can be bestowed on someone who so completely dedicates their life to such worthwhile endeavors. Those in the genealogy community should be eternally grateful to Cyndi and others like her that serve us so well. Her website points out that this is the starting point for anyone using web resources for genealogy, (which would be all of us). Think of what has happened to research since the introduction of the www and everything that entails. We also owe a debt of gratitude to those who contribute and thus are listed by Cyndi. If not for them, there would be nothing to list. So here is a "big shout out" to all those who contribute in any way to this great work! She also appreciates those who contribute financially to her site.

Following is copied from her website and explains what she is doing and why.

 Why do you do all this?
The short answer is because I have fun doing this and I'm really happy to hear the great success stories that have come to people through using the list. The list began as a project for my local genealogical society in order to help our members find resources online. I want to make it easy for all researchers to find online resources for their genealogical research. I once read that the Internet is like a library with its books strewn all over the floor. I guess I'd like my list to be the card-catalog for the genealogy section of that library. And after all these years, I honestly believe that this is what I was meant to do. I’m very lucky that something I love to do has become a vocation.

How do you do all this?
  • I have had helpers and one part time employee in the past. Today, Cyndi’s List is a one-woman show again. It is a full time job, 7 seven days a week.
  • "Work" on the list means that I do each of the following things daily. My priority is to take care of the first two points below before I do anything else, the remaining points are not necessarily in order of importance:
    • Answer each incoming e-mail message. I have an auto-reply message that helps to let everyone know what the status is with my latest load of work.
    • Take care of all broken links & problems first (after all, what is the point in putting up the list if I'm not going to stay on top of correcting broken and non-working links?).
    • Add new links as I find them.
    • Add new links as I receive requests from users of the list.
    • Organize and sub-categorize each page as new ideas come up.
    • Add new categories and links as I come up with new ideas.
  • I originally created each and every page on my site by hand, writing the HTML code myself and using NoteTabPro to do so.
  • With help from donations by users of Cyndi’s List, I was able to hire a web development company, fusionSpan, to help me upgrade the site to its current state.
  • I periodically run a program on my site that checks links to be sure they still work and are accessible.
How did you get started on this list?
The list began as a one page set of bookmarks that I shared with my fellow genealogical society members at the Tacoma-Pierce County Genealogical Society. After that I expanded it to be a 6-page article for the society quarterly. On March 4, 1996 I published my personal web site and, as sort of an after-thought, I added my "list" of bookmarks. The original list was contained on one categorized web page with more than 1,025 links.
You must spend all your time online!
Regardless of how it may appear, I actually do have a life. A very busy life at the moment. The other things that fill my days are:
  • I have a wonderful son, Evan. Currently in the 9th grade, he is a terrific student.
  • We have three Boston Terriers that think the universe revolves around them.
  • I try to keep the house in some semblance of order and cleanliness, although I'm really starting to question what the term "clean" really means.
  • I also have many friends and family members that I'm very close to. I do spend as much time with them as I can.
  • I give classes & presentations to groups and societies regarding genealogical research on the Internet.
Where do you live?
No, I don't live in Utah or Australia. I live just outside Puyallup, Washington, 35 miles south of Seattle, right next door to Tacoma. Puyallup is famous for its eccentric founder, Ezra Meeker (hero or nut?), its strawberries, raspberries & daffodils and for its fair.
Are you a member of the LDS church?
No, I am not. I have loved spending time at my local LDS Family History Center in Puyallup and even filled in as librarian there in the past. I have many friends who are members of the LDS church. As a genealogist I’m eternally grateful for everything the church does to share genealogical research materials with the world.
When do you get any time for your own research?
I haven't been able to do anything serious with my own research since the web site went online in March 1996. I have several new, very patient cousins (online and offline) who are waiting to hear from me. And I have a very disorganized filing cabinet screaming at me to get it in shape. When I published my personal web site in 1996, I started to share my family names and some research. It is still online here: Cyndi's Family Tree.
Thank you for the kind words!
If there is one thing that keeps me working on this web site every day, besides my own obvious passion for genealogy and the Internet, it would be the tremendous notes of support and the compliments that I receive from each of you via e-mail every day. I appreciate every wonderful note and the thoughtfulness behind them more than you can know. It is very rewarding and fulfilling to know that the site is doing its work as an aid to my online friends. Thank you for taking the time to write and for letting me know how useful the site is and that Cyndi's List is helping you in your daily research online. I will keep working on it as long as you keep using it successfully!

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