Saturday, May 27, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun -- Your First Foray Into Genealogy Social Media

 Calling all Genea-Musings Fans:

It's Saturday Night again -
time for some more Genealogy Fun!!

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along - cue the Mission Impossible music!):

1)  What was your first foray into genealogy social media on the computer?  

2)  Write your own blog post, or leave a comment on this post, or write something on Facebook.

Here's mine:

My first computer was an IBM OC/1 with DOS and two floppy 5.25" disks - one for a program (e.g., a word processor) and one for data storage.  Both disk drives had 64 kb storage.  

I started researching my genealogy and family history in 1988.  About that time, I bought a 300-baud dialup  modem and obtained a new telephone number for accessing online "bulletin boards."  I didn't do too much on the bulletin boards until about 1990 when I obtained a Prodigy disk that permitted me to access the Prodigy message boards.

There were other similar services, such as Compuserve and America Online, which I tried out, but Prodigy was my favorite.

On Prodigy, you could send messages to your friends and could access different message boards for surnames or localities or topics.  I logged into Prodigy every night and worked for several hours, asking and answering questions, sharing stories, etc.  It was a lot of fun!  And free.

Since my father's recent ancestry was all New England, I frequented the Massachusetts message board s (I don't recall if counties or towns had separate boards) and quickly made a number of genealogy friends there.  Many of them lived in towns that I was researching in - Leominster, Westminster, Sudbury, Framingham, Medfield, Walpole, Sterling, Eastham, etc.  Some of them would visit their local libraries to find books or manuscripts with vital record listings, like the "tan books" for each town.

One of my friends, Linda who lived in Hopkinton, would visit graveyards in nearby towns to look for stones on request.  She used a video camcorder to make VCR tapes of her strolls around a given cemetery, narrating along the way.  To my wife, it was very boring, but to me it was exciting and amazing.  We visited them on one of our New England trips and enjoyed dinner at a restaurant with them.  

Another friend, Carrie from Pittsfield, started a small calligraphy business for genealogists, and I sent her my ahnentafel in the mail and she made a great 24" by 36" fan chart with nine generations of my father's ancestry for me.  It still is on my genealogy bedroom wall.

Alas, the fun ended in 1994 when Prodigy started charging for the message board services.  Many genealogy friends left Prodigy for different services.  I bought a new Windows 3 PC in 1994 and genealogy websites started to appear and I obtained a better and faster modem and my genealogy research continued.


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ByAPearl said...

Here is mine

Lisa S. Gorrell said...

Oh what fun we had in the 80s & 90s.