Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Searching the Past, Looking to the Future" Program Summary

Susi Pentico was the program speaker at the Chula Vista Genealogical Society meeting on Wednesday, 27 January on "Searching the Past, Looking to the Future." There were 32 persons at the meeting, including four guests.

In her presentation, Susi defined three "genealogy eras" - before 1970, 1970 to about 2010, and the future. Using her knowledge and experience doing genealogy from the last 50 years, she discussed the changes in record access, recording methods and social contacts over the three eras. She used her own family research stories and photographs to illustrate her comments.

The pre-1970 methods for genealogy research included family records, reunions, photographs, correspondence with others, library and courthouse visits, road trips, cemeteries, historical records in books or repositories, etc.

After about 1970, these methods to pursue family history were still used, but the telephone (including cold calling from directories) and computer use began and increased. By the 1990s email had replaced much correspondence and online websites and databases proliferated, resulting in fewer people going to libraries, societies and other repositories. Volunteers had populated Rootsweb.com, USGenWeb.org and other sites with freely available transcribed or abstracted data, and commercial web sites had large databases of useful records. Many USGenWeb sites have not added content in recent years, which is troubling.

By 2010, some local and state repositories with unique genealogy holdings were cutting back hours and staff, or closing completely, due to lack of "customers" and financial pressures. After 9/11, access to some genealogy vital records was restricted for identity and privacy reasons. Some counties put public records (e.g., probate indexes, deed indexes, property information) online, but not all have done that. People were encouraged to compile their health histories to share with their family. Researchers have found new avenues to share genealogy information using social networks, blogs and online chats.

For the future, Susi thought that there will be more online access to records, that digital storage and transport of records will be pervasive, that educational presentations will be done by speakers from home to remote groups using online services, that online family tree databases will proliferate and be easy to use. She hoped that genealogy research will show that we are all related to one another, that people will be more compassionate and prejudice and bias will be eliminated.

Susi will likely post her script on her blog, Susi's Chatty Performances on Genealogy, in the days ahead. Her description of the day is in her post Wednesday was not Wordless, Genealogy, PPF*. Ruth Himan's description of Susi's talk is on her blog Genealogy is Ruthless Without Me.

1 comment:

Lori said...

Very interesting, Randy. Thanks for sharing! :)