The most popular list for those researching family history in India is the INDIA List hosted by Rootsweb. You can exchange ideas, suggestions, queries, questions and family details with a group of people (from beginner to expert) who are interested in the same subject. The List currently has over 700 members.
Before submitting queries to the List, it is recommended to first search the INDIA List archives to see if your question has been asked before. You may also use this search page to search for surnames that may have been mentioned before. As you may appreciate, asking the same beginner questions to the list can become tiresome for the regulars on the List. It is also recommended to 'lurk' in the background if you are new to mailing lists (or even the INDIA List) and get a 'feel' for the format of questions and 'list etiquette'.
To join the List, simply send an email to INDIA-Lemail@example.com with the word subscribe in the subject line and body. Please do not include anything else (even a signature). You may unsubscribe at anytime. More details are found on the INDIA List page, (including the contact email address for the List Administrator INDIAfirstname.lastname@example.org if you have any List problems). If you subscribe to the India List, you receive emails individually at different times during the day. If you subscribe to the Digest, the emails are batched together and come at less frequent intervals, as detailed in this India List post. If you unsubscribe for a period, perhaps while you are on holidays, you can browse the INDIA List archives for any dates you have missed.
Once you have become a subscriber to the List, you may send queries or information to the List. The procedure is as for any email. The email address is email@example.com. Include a relevant heading and as much information as you can and the source of that information, as requested in this India List post. Many readers prefer that family names be typed in capital letters as this emphasises the name. However this India List June 2000 post from the List administrator advises this is a matter of preference. Please note there is no provision to send emails to the List with attachments. You can advise in your email that you have an attachment which you can send to interested members of the List, privately off list. However, you can place attachments on the Message Board, refer below.
When you receive emails from the List, sometimes long URLs in the posts do not appear correctly and it is not possible to access the relevant website with just a click. It is necessary to copy, adjust and paste the link in terms of this India List question and response. If you are sending an email to the list, you can turn a long URL into a shorter one by using the website tinyURL.com
Sometimes a message appears on the India List which says: This is a Message Board Post that is gatewayed to this mailing list... The author of this message may not be subscribed to this list. If you would like to reply to them, please click on the Message Board URL link above and respond on the board. This India List post discusses the procedure of writing a reply on the Message Board.
Some researchers have had problems when sending a reply to a previous India List email, as the administrator has rejected their response due to formatting problems. Perhaps the rejection letter has said that headers and footers from the original email should not be included in the reply. Note also that you must be a subscriber to the List to send either a reply or a new email. If you receive an email from the India List which you wish to reply to, this procedure is currently acceptable (June 2011):
First of all click on reply. This will give you the address to reply to (which is just the normal India List email address) It will also give you the subject heading, which will be the same subject heading as on the original India List email. At the end of each email received from the India List there will be some general information under the heading “===== India Mailing List =====”. This wording is the "footers" referred to above. All this information, including this heading, must be deleted before you send your response to the India List. If you do not delete as specified, the administrator is likely to reject your email. Type your response above the previous email, or the most relevant parts of the previous email. Or you may choose to delete the previous email wording entirely. There have been differing views about acceptable formats over time.
According to its website it is: A mailing list for anyone with a genealogical interest in the period of British rule of most of the Indian subcontinent (present-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and Myanmar (Burma)) which lasted from 1858, when the rule of the British East India Company was transferred to the Crown, until 1947, when the independence of British India was granted and Pakistan was formed.
This British Raj List post from the founder of the List provides more details and explains that family history matters are intended for the India List.
Many people subscribe to both the India List and the India-British-Raj List.
Other Mailing Lists
All Rootsweb Mailing Lists. This website gives the following mailing lists, all of which seem fairly small
- Ceylon-Rootsweb Sri Lanka Mailing List. Join the Sri Lanka List Search the Sri Lanka List Archives Browse the Sri Lanka List Archives
- Straits Settlements
- Indonesia- Rootsweb Indonesia Mailing List. Join the Indonesia List Search the Indonesia List Archives Browse the Indonesia List Archives
The St Helena Institute's 'Forum for Family History', a Mailing List/Message Board for anyone interested in St Helena family history and genealogy (including Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha).
- The posts on the Rootsweb India Message Board are gatewayed (reposted) to the India List so you only need to post once. Note that many people prefer to reply to the India List, rather than to the Message Board, (as you don't need a password for the former), so you are likely to get more immediate responses if you post your query on the India List. However, the Message Board has the advantage that you can include an attachment, such as a photograph. Also, it is probably better for replies which may be made in the future. For other countries, refer All Rootsweb Message Boards. For more details, see the Rootsweb page How to post a new message or a reply on the message boards
- Genforum is the website presented by Genealogy.com. Messages can be left on specific surname boards in addition to the India Genealogy Forum –or that of any other country. There are also general interest boards. All these message boards (or forums as they are called) can be browsed or searched by entering a specific word search. In addition to hosting message boards the site contains topics of general genealogical interest.
- FIBIS Members can post queries on the forum message board in the FIBIS Social Network. A particularly useful feature is the facility to upload attachments - perhaps a photograph for help in identifying a uniform or place or a section of an historic document where the old handwriting cannot be deciphered easily.
- Rootschat.com "Other Countries" includes India
- British-Genealogy.com, sometimes called "Brit-Gen" has forums on various topics.
- Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine has forums on general topics, mainly UK related.
- Rootsweb British Army Message Board. There are also Message Boards for other parts of the British military. Photographs or other images may be attached.
- Military-Army Forum, British-Genealogy.com There are also other forums for other parts of the military.
- Rootschat.com Armed Forces Forum
- Britregiments is a list for general questions about British Regiments (including those in the Indian Army). The website says “Questions about a unit's history, movements, heritage, practices and regalia are most welcome and encouraged”. The number of posts on this forum appears to be decreasing.
- The Napoleonic Wars Forum 1792-1815 is a message board established May 2011 and has a sub-forum Other Related Conflicts 1792-1815 , the description being “For all discussions regarding other related conflicts during the Napoleonic period not covered by the above [i.e. the rest of the site] (e.g. Irish Rebellion of 1798 and India 1799-1804 etc.)”
- Victorian Wars Forum is a message board for British Military Campaigns from 1837 to 1902, and in fact continues for the pre World War 1 period. Many of the posts contain detailed information and/or illustrations or photographs. A good site if you want the uniform of a soldier of this period identified, (but you need to register first). Rather than posting your photograph directly to the VWF, where file size is restricted, one option is to upload your photograph to the Fibiwiki, where maximum file size 7 MB is permitted, see Upload images, and then include the image’s URL in your VWF post.
- Great War Forum is a message board for the First World War . It has subforums Middle East and North Africa and India where archived threads may be read. Note, to view the photographs attached to posts you must be a logged in member of the Forum who has completed all registration formalities, including the completion of your first post, which is an agreement to bide by the rules of the forum. If you want to post a photograph, rather than posting your photograph directly to the VWF, where file size is restricted, one option is to upload your photograph to the Fibiwiki, where maximum file size 7 MB is permitted, see Upload images, and then include the image’s URL in your GWF post.
- WW2Talk Forum includes subcategories Burma and India, British Indian Army and Prewar
- World War II Forum, an American site includes The CBI Theater The China-Burma-India Theater, including naval action in the Indian Ocean. Has links to the previous site, which is stated to be a "companion" website.
- British Medals Forum. Its website says "The objective of the British Medal Forum is to develop and further the interest, research and collecting of British and Commonwealth medals; researching their recipients; and assisting each other with specialist issues such as research, naming styles, clasp combinations, etc". It is necessary to register.
- Gentleman’s Military Interest Club (GMIC) includes subforums "Great Britain: Empire: Colonial Including South Africa & India: Awards, Militaria & History" but the entries about India are limited. Also "Medals and Militaria: South Asia" for post independence India and Pakistan.