Changing Research Methods over Time
Mini version of talk presented to CVGS.
I have done research for many years, my Grandfather Hoffman had a great hand in developing the curiousity for research of the family. My Grandfather Jones created the same curiosity by saying " You won't like them, they are not nice". That only fueled the want to learn more. BTW, The family wasn't bad when I met them but they did have one individual that had made many peoples lives very miserable. I suspect today that medicine would have been used to assist that individual. Needless to say that person was long since deceased.
I wonder how many parents today have their children write to their grandparents, and relatives
that live away from home. From what I hear we do not even get a "THANK YOU
NOTE" for gifts received. The art of writing may be dying.
I wish the Military had not lost my box with my old letters and address of family and friends
from pre 1967. I saved the box and wrapped it special put my address book from the house in
it and sealed the box handed to the packer to place in the last open box that was crated to be
sent to Hawaii.
Ironically, it never arrived. Just the little package so carefully selected and wrapped and
addressed in case lost, just was not in that box upon opening it. Was it the new silk pillows
my parents sent as a Christmas gift that lured the person not to pack the box. It may have been
they were not cheap pillows. But who ever did what ever, they robbed my family of much resources and the
No wonder English teachers who try to teach children to write have so hard a time of it. I
stress writing thank you notes to Grandchildren today. Just so they remember how to function
with pen and paper.
The home address of the man who introduced me to my husband was in that address book
because he had just retired from the Navy. I have hunted for them for 20+ years when I finally
got a computer to see if I could find him. So far no luck. Ed "Hoot" Gibson, where are you or
Fortunately, MOM had replacement addresses for the family. But the hand picked letters that
my Great Grandmother Foulk Jones Archer wrote me are gone. Early letters from my husband are
gone. One of the only two letters my DAD wrote me is gone. Granddad Jones letters are no
Writing to people then was so much more prolific than today. People who had phones called
them a necessity and were used only on rare emergency occasions.
So for research in the days of the past prior to 1960 was mostly writing and traveling.
Picture taking became popular in the 30's and more so in the 40's. By the 1950's even many
children had the Kodak Brownie to take pictures at the school functions to record for the future.
ability to reach some people we still have not found.
I am presenting some data regarding the research was the same in some fields but other areas are new and just starting to develop in our research. I believe using the computer and the internet has helped make research expand and grow. Email is significantly faster than snail mail but there is nothing like a letter from home even today in that person's own hand writing. Family Trees and Family records posted on line have helped to fuel the desire to match with more people and learn more information. My web page went up in 1997, I think , and is still up and running but in need of repair. We moved it when Geocities was terminated.
Early 1970's to 2010 2010 & beyond
1 Library 1. Library 1. Library
2. Family Records 2. Family Records 2. Family Rec
3. Road Trips 3. Road Trips 3. Road Trips
4. Pictures 4. Pictures 4. Pictures
5. Letters 5. Letters 5. Letters
6. Historical Documents* 6. Historical Documents 6. Historical Doc.
7. History Books 7. History Books 7. History Books
8. Court Houses* 8. Court Houses 8. Court Houses
9. Cemeteries** 9. Cemeteries 9. Cemeteries
10. Church's 10. Church's 10. Church's*
11. Land Offices 11. Land Offices 11. Land Offices*
12. 12. Telephone 12. Telephone
13. 13. Cold Calling 13. Cold Calling
14. 14. Computers began 14. Computer used
15. Movie Camera's 15. Video cameras 15. Video Cameras
16. Tape Recorders 16. Tape Recorders 16. Tape Recorders/digitalized
17. Mail Sharing 17. Recorded data on line 17. Recorded data
shared blogged, shared
18. Census Records 18. Census Records 18. Partial Census* Records
19. Court Records* 19. Court Records 19. Partial Court*
20. Historical Societies 20. History & Genealogical 20 . in flux*
21. Historical Libraries 21. Historical Libraries 21 H. L in flux*
22. telegraph 22. telegraph & Telephone 22. phones and cell phones*
Cell phones are going to change research because there are no directories.
These are just some of the things that are the same but different.
* means available but not available due to : war, flood, fire, earthquake and other activities
** cemeteries have been lost due to towns being put under water due to building of dams the same with the towns associated with them and to floods.
The impact from 9-11 has been negative over all. The financial impact on our society in this current time has not helped genealogy researchers or repositories either.
Our libraries, are in serious trouble almost everywhere. From State Libraries to local county and city libraries and private libraries. New York had one sold and books are in storage for years until they can be dispersed to another
agency. Legal Action is taking place there. Michigan and Pennsylvania are struggling with keeping their State
Our local Library has changed hours so much that we have adjusted meetings and events. Hours are shortened, & some days they are not even open.
Census records we are told will be released only in partials and we have no idea what they will share. NARA representative presented this data last spring to prepare us for not to expect much when it happens.
My thoughts were maybe it would fuel a desire to unite and request full disclosure but with 9-11 and security and the economy I fear that will not happen. But I feel that if you have filled out a census you should have the right to see it via the Freedom of Information Act.
(Learning from someone today that if you fill out the census, copy it before sending it back and include it in your Genealogy Papers). I thought this was excellent idea because our grandchildren may never see a census paper.)
Data that many Counties have, should be put on line like the County Recorder did for Berks Co. Pennsylvania many years back. It gives them a form of income and ease of locating records. Maybe some of those boxes found in dark corners could be sifted through and shared with researchers.
Some new research material should be your Medical History. Dr. Koop recommended this many years back, we have learned we can prevent our future generations from so much grieve if we share now with the medical world
our medical background. Dominately, with Heart, Diabetes, Kidney and Asthma patients. There are some blood diseases in some lineages that if the Doctors are aware of they can prevent the infant from serious mental damage and body injury. They can actually treat the fetus before birth on some of them.
Medical research was started about the time our son was born by some doctors whom had the for sight to realize we could make a difference in our families and their practice.
Now days we have great programs to use on to place our genealogy in and store for research purposes. The Software and collateral programs are so advanced of ten years ago. We have zip drives, notepads, laptop computers, portable scanners and other related products to more easily store our research. We have back up
hard drives and hard drive back ups on the internet for use also if you do not want to store at home.
A great plus for researchers ws the founding of Rootsweb by Brian L and Karen and the development of usgenweb.org and worldgenweb.org.
Many other groups are out there now but they were the fore runners of this method of research. I feel we should go back to helping usgenweb.org develop the data it started for each county and state verses spend so much money
on paid sites that have taken over in some areas. I have nothing against the paid sites because search engines and data are expensive and cost dollars. But we the genealogists used to volunteer time to make this happen with out major fees involved. Now we pay and go read and do not support our own cause.
We see this with the Library situation and we need to start to wake up to the call. Societies need to be retained and they need to respond to research needs. We should not be afraid to pay for what we have or use.
I am very pleased with our society and the things we do to help others and ourselves. We share and we care.
We need more records on many countries and sharing of those records. Our world has shrunk with the internet and we are a nation of many peoples. We are hoping for the expansion of the resources to cover the areas such as: Africa, Asia, India, South American countries and peoples of all nations not yet addressed.
The different web pages with family data online shared and documented are excellent.
The undocumented ones, are not, of no value, but have to be redone to verify they are correct.
Sometimes this is almost to nigh impossible due to records lost with fires, floods, earthquakes,
tornadoes and the like. Not to mention what the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil
War did to the county, state records and federal records.
Some of my research has little documentation on it according to the now standards. Yet
my family lived it and reported it to me and they are now gone and the letters lost in a move,
prevent me from doing more about it.
School Districts are having Adult Education classes to assist the Researcher on their way
to be a Genealogist or Family Historian. More tend to want to be historians than genealogists.
They tend to be wary of what a Genealogist is or does but being a Historian is just as good.
There are more colleges offering classes to help you be a very proficient researcher or speaker
or writer regarding research, genealogy and history.
Other organizations are offering online courses and activities to improve your research
Many local societies are offering various classes of various degree of knowledge to help
improve ones ability to research.
More to come on this topic. I hope you can relate to it and it helps. SusiCP@cox.net