Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Look At The Past

In 1976 genealogy research was much different from what it is today. There were no computers. Research involved a lot of travel time to libraries, courthouses, and repositories. Correspondence was the original “Google.”

The typical office of a 1976 genealogist was a dining room. It consisted of a typewriter placed at the end of a dining room table. Several consoles and sidebars were covered with stacks of papers - as was the dining room table. Envelopes and stamps were the tools of the family researcher. It took weeks to receive answers to inquiries sent to courthouses in search of information about birth, marriage, and death records. You really needed to know exactly where to look. And if you were lucky, you found what you needed.

Back then genealogical societies were a necessary part of the research process. The biggest advantage of belonging to a local organization was the chance of connecting to a cousin who had information about your family - those very important dates that everyone needed -birth, marriage, death. And if you were lucky you might even get the surnames of a few female ancestors.

What a difference 40 years makes. Now we Google our ancestor and a myriad of information pops up on our computer screens. We join and for a small fee our ancestor's vital records appear in a matter of minutes.

Back in 1976, we needed each other. We needed to get together once a month to exchange ideas, information, find relatives, share our experiences with the hope that it would add to our research. I am amazed at how far we have come today and how much we have lost.