Monday, June 17, 2013

This Ain't Your Grandma's Keyboard Anymore

In my last post I mentioned that genealogical societies have been hit hard by the amount of information that is available online. It's a whole new world out there for those of us who were introduced to family research when the only keyboard was on a typewriter. The typewriter was used to put letters on a sheet of paper in order to make sentences and paragraphs. Sorta like today's computer keyboard only with typos. And those typos had to be erased. I can get the aurora of a beginning migraine just thinking about it.

Those of you who have been with me for a while know about my Aunt Daisy's dining room and the huge table with the old typewriter at one end. Plus all the sideboards with stacks of papers that I never understood until I myself became a genealogist. All of my aunt's research started with that typewriter.

I am lucky. I came to understand the joy of knowing about your ancestors before the internet arrived on the scene. You had to interact with other people who were trying to find their ancestors, and you had to go to the places where they lived to find their records. Not online, not on Google Earth, but face to face, in person at local genealogical societies and local courthouses, and crawling around in local snake infested cemeteries. This was, and still is, the core of family research. Well, maybe minus the snakes.

I know that we have to embrace technology; that we have to build bridges to the 21st century, but nothing compares to finding that unknown cousin at a genealogical society meeting or conference. When you can sit down and look at someone who looks a lot like your Aunt Izzy or your Uncle Ben. See the family resemblance. And then start comparing notes on family rumors. That's when it becomes real. And that's why I believe we should all belong to at least one local genealogical society. Just to get to know each other. We are one huge family. If we let these groups disappear, we will lose the best part of our research. 

So I am encouraging you to get away from your computer research for a while. Find a local genealogy group. Go to a conference. Volunteer. Get involved. Find your comfort zone at a local courthouse. You won't regret it and you will kick yourself for not doing it sooner.


No comments:

Post a Comment