Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Low Tech & Modern Tech for Genealogy

Recently, Kassie Nelson and I got together for brunch, to discuss the future of The Rogue Genealogist and our current research projects.

She also offered me some books she no longer had use for and how could I refuse?

While so much is online these days, there remain many books - particularly those that remain under coypright and have not been transitioned into ebook format - that are useful to us. Can a genealogy tip or suggestion ever be outdated? I'm sure it's very possible.

However, I think it's more likely that there are things we might not consider or, a more likely possibility, things the next generation of genealogists might not think about.

Low Tech & Modern Tech for GenealogyOne of the books given to me is a 1993 publication about how to find your Italian ancestors. I'm only 24 pages into the book and found tips I hadn't even considered. Most of the time, I think about vital records and census records as a starting point. Then I move on to compiled genealogies and newspapers, and then Google searches in hopes of hitting a blog or website or an older book that mention an ancestor.

Additionally, I look at probate and land records, and sometimes voter registrations. I still love Family History Library microfilms and splurging on a military pension file from the National Archives is exciting to me.

Are our younger genealogists digging deeply? Are Gen Xers, like me, and Baby Boomers digging deeply enough? Is the ease of digital genealogy and high tech keeping us from looking at things we might no longer see as valuable, because they aren't in front of our face as often, like "Who's Who" guides?

I think, for me, an intersection of modern-tech and low-tech is a good way to cover most of my bases. The amount of resources going digital is fantastic and the ways we access information is changing everyday. But it's also worthwhile to take a step back in time, process-wise, and look at other avenues. You might not find an ancestor in the records online, because they don't cover a particular year, surname or area yet, so it may behoove you instead to write a letter overseas or check out a print resource at the library. Manuscript collections, such as those at NEHGS, that are not scanned or transcribed are rich with information that you might just be missing if your focus is solely on digital research.

Not sure which bases to cover in your research? Family Tree Magazine offers several research forms for download, including an Online Database Search Tracker and Repository Checklist. Checklists and logs like these might direct you to types of records you'd never considered.

And when you see a genealogy research guide on sale or offered for free, it could very well be worth picking up. That 1993 book might provide insights that are still valuable today.

Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan

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