Recently, I ran across a website called ManyRoads which turns out to be much more than an excellent resource for historical online maps of the world.
In this blog, I interviewed Mark Rabideau, owner and founder of this website to gain insight into his life mission that is ManyRoads.
Origins of ManyRoads
ManyRoads is not just an online service that provides maps and other genealogical information, it is a ‘mission’.
There are several motivators in Mark’s life that have made this endeavor crucial him.
Two of the main motivators are;
- Mark’s mother’s family were among those Germans expelled from their homes following the German defeat of WW2.
- Mark’s father-in-law’s lifelong search for his German ancestors. During his lifetime, he never found the details of his German ancestry. But with a little bit of luck and an awful lot of work, Mark and his wife managed to bring all his and his wife’s family lines from Germany into focus. A summary of their German ancestry can be found here.
Combining these motivators, along with the difficulties Mark & his wife experienced in bringing their family searches to a fruitful, comfortable place, created a desire in Mark to make sure others have an easier time in their research endeavors.
ManyRoads works every day to provide excellent high quality, free self-help and easy access to rare and difficult to obtain information (maps, images, texts, genealogies, etc.) which makes this a true ‘mission’.
Where are Images, Maps, Documents, and “Other” Materials Found?
Information on ManyRoads is sourced almost exclusively on the Internet. It requires a lot of ‘hunting’ and scouring to unearth new and valuable data.
A reasonably complete list of their “major” information sources may be found on this page: http://www.many-roads.com/focus/legal-acknowledgements/ and on their Links page: http://www.many-roads.com/link-directory/
These lists provide attribution to their original resources.
ManyRoads areas of expertise (specialization) include:
- East & West Prussia, Pomerania, Silesia (pre-1948 Eastern Germany Territories, now Poland)
- Mennonites- Amish
- Volga Deutsch
- Shoah (Holocaust) Jewish Research
- New France (Quebec)
- Upstate New York & Vermont
- South Eastern Iowa
- Genealogy Supportive (Computer & Internet) Technologies, Websites, etc.
- Name ‘morphing’- dealing with imprecise or inaccurate Names
How Much Information Does ManyRoads Share?
ManyRoads shares any data that they are able to in accordance with personal privacy, as well as, US Copyright and Fair-Use regulations.
Current Online Offerings (in round numbers):
- 540 maps (consuming 1.5GB of space)
- 1,200 images (consuming about 500MB)
- 11,000 texts in the ManyRoads’ Libraries (consuming 290GB of space)
- 100 Historical Videos & Music Recordings (consuming some 8GB of space)
- 1,400 Historical Radio Shows mostly American (consuming about 16.3 GB)
How Many People Has ManyRoads Helped?
The numbers of those helped by the website can’t be determined exactly but, over the past 5 years, ManyRoads has recorded more than 721,000 website visitors.
What’s Coming in 2018?
The website is currently in the pre-release phase so things are a bit ‘rough around the edges’. Mark expects the site to be smoothly operating by early spring.
When Version 1.0 is released, the site will offer about 6,000 documents or 2GB of source information. The information will largely include transport lists of those individuals (Jews, Roma, Sinti, Homosexuals, Resistance, etc. ) destined for the Eastern Ghettos and Concentration Camps by the Third Reich.
Plans to Expand Collection Areas
All of Mark’s research is deliberate and focused on those areas and subjects that intrigue him. All of ManyRoads’ work is “in-process”. Mark has no thought of it coming to an end specifically before “he ends.”
ManyRoads offers free self-help on a variety of topics.
What Do People Think About Getting Free Help?
As Clare Boothe Luce, Oscar Wilde, and many others all have said: “No Good Deed goes unpunished”. Most of the written feedback that Mark gets is from people who think something is untrustworthy about his motivations; they think he must have some ulterior, nefarious motive(s). Or, alternatively, they request that he does even more for them, personally, for free.
Only rarely do people offer complementary feedback or offer to provide assistance in funding the costs associated with gathering and hosting this information. Although, he does get many ‘thumbs up’ on Facebook.
Mark likes the latter group “a lot”.
Services Provided by ManyRoads
- Conducting Genealogical, Historical and Family Research assistance in their areas of expertise which typically includes the birth, marriage, death, family member identification research.
- Historical research that is similar to what can be found on the Shoah Statistics Project and free Prussian address books
- Family research that is similar to what they do for their our own family.
- Provide genealogical workshops or presentations for groups and organizations. Mark tends to stick to his areas of interest and expertise for these.
About Mark Rabideau
Mark has been a family historian and genealogist for more than 17 years. ManyRoads was established about the same time.
As well as a genealogist and family historian, Mark is also something of a technologist having spent the last 40+ years developing software and managing engineering work. Mark, also, provides website development within the WordPress platform to many clients. He has developed a number of client genealogy websites, in addition to those owned by ManyRoads.
Mark Rabideau’s complete professional profile and background can be found on LinkedIn.