Here's a quick roundup of six sites where you can search for surnames.
This new site was created so genealogists could access "pure genealogy queries" without being bothered with spam, junk messages and off-topic postings. Users can even delete or edit their own queries. You can search queries by surname or the Soundex equivalent.
Plug in your surname, pick a topic such as marriage or cemetery records, then let the system go to work. It searches through genealogical databases, city directories, cemetery records, military rosters and tombstone inscriptions for hits on your surname. The site, which began in 1996 as an outgrowth of Webmaster David Podmajersky's personal research, now gets close to 5,000 visitors daily.
To date, 32 million ancestors have been submitted to GenCircles' Global Tree. The site uses a "matching technology" to pair the people in your pedigree with those already on file. Search the surname database or post messages about individuals in the Global Tree. GenCircles offers state and county bulletin boards (called clubs), plus a Genealogy Message Searcher that simultaneously scans GenCircles' clubs and the Ancestry-RootsWeb message boards.
Search tens of thousands of queries left by other surname researchers. This site features bulletin boards where visitors can leave queries or post research notes. Each surname board is searchable. Old queries stay in the system, so you don't have to worry about the one you're looking for being hidden in an archive.
This searchable site has links to more than 88,000 surname records from personal Web pages, query forums and mailing lists. In addition to surname searches, you can explore 12 other "gateways," such as Ethnic, Database, Beginners and Vital Records.
Use the on-site search engine to access surname mailing-list archives. While searching, don't miss the "build your own genealogy Web page" tutorial and links to excellent free databases.