16 July 2010

We've Come A Long Way...

A friend of mine and I were having dinner with our husbands the other night at a local eatery. As it often does the conversation turned to genealogy. Both she & I have been re-evaluating our data bases. How we do things, facts, notes, sources etc. Reviewing and changing some things, other things stand as they were.

The conversation turning to genealogy we started to talk about "before"... you remember "before" right? Before, when looking at a census record was something you had to go to a library to do? Before, when getting a death certificate meant sending a check and waiting weeks for the mailman to bring the certificate back? Before, when preparing for a trip meant packing your notebook so you could write down all the call numbers from the cards in the card catalog? Before, when you made contacts by hand writing letters? Before, when keeping tabs on your ancestors meant entries in your notebook?

The other day I found myself frustrated because I was struggling to locate the death certificate of someone on one of the sites offering free vital records. About the time I was getting so frustrated, my husband Mark called. We chatted, he asked about my ton of voice (how does he always know when I need his calming attitude?), I explained my frustration. He told me to just walk away and come back later & try again. He reminded me that "BEFORE" I would have had to send my money in, hope they found it, then wait for it to come back, sometimes weeks or months later. He also reminded me of places like Detroit that when the record isn't found they simply keep your funds.

So I've made a note and one day I'll go back & search again. With vital records, newspapers, military records and more just sitting online waiting for your keystroke... we've certainly come a long way baby! And I for one think its a very good thing!

Happy Researching!


Jo said...

Next time I get frustrated when a website is down, or my laptop's not responding, I'll remind myself of the days of sitting at General Registers of Scotland, waiting for a man with white gloves to bring me a document so I could copy the details down. Pencil only! I love going to National Archives of Scotland where you are still allowed to handle old documents which haven't been digitised yet - it's such a thrill :-)

TennLady said...

That's the only way to do it.

Nancy said...

I love having digital images online but there's a thrill about finding the self-addressed, colored envelopes I send with my requests sitting in my mail box that just doesn't quite compare to finding an ancestor in a digital image. I love both ways and am glad to have experience with both. It IS nice to be able to copy the digital images to my computer so easily.

Becky Higgins said...

All I can say is Amen to the difference between "before" and now.