Monday, March 21, 2011

Today's Genealogist


Can you do genealogical research without turning on a computer? Yes, to some extent. If you wish to research in slow motion as we did BC (Before Computers), then be my guest.

There are times we do need to slow down and do brain exercising genealogical research. If you have never learned to evaluate evidence and develop research plans, these are not just for the experts. Start looking at your research problem and review the information you have found.

It is not totally necessary to read blogs, tweets on Twitter or post and read on Facebook. However, some of the best leads and information comes through these social networking channels. At some point you do have to stop reading and begin applying.

The extent of genealogy databases on Internet is phenomenal. The development of these databases is surging and swelling on a day to day basis. But why not? We need them and we ask for them. Miss one day and you have to play catch up. About a month ago I checked FamilySearch for a marriage or any helpful information in Ohio that would give me the name of Grandma Mary Maria's first husband. Nothing appeared to be there, but just the other day by doing various types of searches, even narrowing my needs down to a certain county in Ohio, I discovered his name. Actually I went in the back door in Iowa records, but all on FamilySearch.

While living in Iowa, I soon discovered the benefit of mud rooms. Nobody in rural Iowa comes to the front door except FedEx and UPS. People come for visits and to bring garden goodies through the back door into the mud room. But sometimes we forget to go in the back door with our research. Searching should not always be direct, but by exploring all options.

I was able to find Grandma Mary Maria's first husband named on their daughter's death certificate in Iowa. I had checked one reel of microfilm in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City several years ago. The daughter's parents were not named. Venturing no further, I waited (not patiently). With all the indexing of records and accessibility on Internet, I was able to locate the information on another Iowa film that I had not checked at the library. Quick, easy, but it took some thought and patience until the information popped up on my computer.

The genealogy world is praising the wonderful new genealogy search engine Mocavo. It is introduced to us as the world's largest free genealogy search engine with new sites being added daily. How do you maneuver around Internet if you don't have these powerful tools known as search engines? Mocavo is not going to replace Google, but by using both of them, we are better equipped to find information. However, don't forget to go in the back door.

Have we lost our thought process and patience because of Internet? We can turn those cyber experiences into positive thought processes. Learn by doing. Explore all possibilities. Think it out, write it out, but by all means do the research. If it takes you five minutes to find the information, you are a whiz. If it takes you ten hours to find the information, you are still a whiz because it would have taken you one year before we had computers.

Photo: Grandma Mary Maria's daughter, Ann Jane Williams Spencer 1841-1907

1 comment:

Travis LeMaster said...

Good analogy using "mud rooms". We have those in Indiana, too.