The Internet is the Way to Start
Just received my copy of the Feb 2005 Family Chronicle magazine www.familychronicle.com
where publisher Halvor Moorshead says: "The Internet is the Way to
Start. There; I've finally said it. I know it is heresy to tell new genealogists
that they can conduct most of their research using the Internet but I've come to
YES, Halvor, the times, they are a changing. We used to use the internet only
for small chat rooms, email and RootsWeb mailing lists -- sharing research
techniques and tidbits of information with other family historians. Then
Ancestry.com came into play with index databases. So did Genealogy.com and
others. Genealogy message boards outside the limits of CompuServe, Prodigy and
AOL on such sites as GenForum, RootsWeb and Ancestry expanded the probability
that we will find someone who has that missing link to help us get around our
brick walls. Free sites such as USGenWeb and WorldGenWeb pulled together the
efforts of thousands of volunteers who continue to make the internet a place for
genealogists to view genealogy info for free. For a few years we could order
microfilm from AGLL/HeritageQuest. Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness reflects
the attitude of most genealogists: a willingness to share ancestral clues with
Finally, really big databases with connections to original documents started
coming out. At EllisIslandRecords.org one may search for an ancestor, click to
view the scanned image of the passenger record, and click again to view a photo
and description of the ship. FamilySearch.org, the online presence of the Family
History Library emerged as one of the busiest websites, including its
double-data-entry indices to the 1880 US Federal and 1881 UK and Canada Census.
We used to order census microfilms through our local LDS Family History Centers,
hoping against hope to find that elusive great-grandfather. Now online indices
at Ancestry.com and HeritageQuestOnline offer all-US lookups linked to census
images. Ancestry has literally hundreds of additional databases leading back to
original documents on file in courthouses and archives throughout the world.
HeritageQuestOnline also boasts PERSI (Periodical Source Index) and has just
added Revolutionary War era pension and bounty land files. The list goes on.
Now an entire country's vital, census and church records indices are available
online, with the example of the ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk taking the lead in the
category of "federal government making public records access available
online." Similar improvements for accessing records have come though such
sites as 1837online.com and origins.net. How we wish it was that easy to search
for ancestors in the more obscure Eastern European or South American countries.
Yet at every turn, we see more reliable indexes, increasing numbers of scanned
images and lots of helpful how-to articles going up on the web every day. Also,
its getting easier to understand the life and times of a particular ancestor by
researching online the history of the area where he once lived.
Former Family Tree Magazine editor-in-chief David A. Fryxell noted "Genealogy
Societies dwindle. Even as genealogy has enjoyed a boom, some of its traditional
pillars have become wobbly. [...] State and local groups also have struggled as
family historians turn to the web sir resources & networking." (Feb
2005 Family Tree Magazine," Back to the Future" page 32.) Myrt's own
local societies have ceased publishing their newsletters in paper format in
favor of creating a website and maintaining a RootsWeb mailing list to keep
Won't it be interesting to order our "microfilm" to be scanned and
then viewable online? I'd sure pay for that service!
Now I've just got to find some way to wiggle my nose and be immediately
transported to those distant ancestral homelands.
Happy family tree climbing!
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