Thursday, 5 February 2009

How genealogists use the internet

Helping celebrate genealogy gripe week

In his latest genealogy column in March issue of The Beaver columnist Fraser Dunford identifies four, and only four, genealogical uses of the Internet. They are:

1. to look at original documents;
2. to search indexes;
3. to look at prepared genealogies;
4. and to contact others who are interested in the same families as you.

Contrast this with a list I found through Stephen Abrams blog which had a bar graph of online activities of internet users worldwide. They aren't specifically genealogy but most have application to genealogy. I certainly check the weather forecast online before deciding about going to genealogy meetings at this time of year.

Here's a longer list specific to genealogy/family history: getting news about new resources; getting news about meetings, conferences and workshops; registering for genealogical events; online genealogy education; ordering books, magazines and other published genealogical resources; consulting library or archive catalogues; reserving a computer to consult databases at the local library; ordering certificates; discussing genealogy; viewing transcribed or abstracted material; viewing maps; finding photographs; backing up genealogical data; organizing speakers for meetings, conferences and workshops; accessing cloud resources, e.g. "Google documents"; accessing and writing blogs.

Dunford takes far too narrow a view, and in doing so misses much of the importance and potential of the internet for genealogy.

2 comments:

Pierce said...

This could probably fit into several categories, but I use the Internet specifically to verify or correct place names on documents, either using Google (or other) Maps or reference databases such as Wikipedia. Of course, once I find an appropriate reference, I get other information, such as neighbouring places, history, and/or current place names.

M. Diane Rogers said...

Here’s a few more:
-Collaborating with others in historical/genealogical research – privately or on public wikis or websites like Footnote
-Searching/reading digitized books, articles for e.g. at ourroots.ca; also to read digital magazines like 'Epitaphs'
-Archiving personal/family photos, bookmarks, family stories and genealogies for ‘posterity’, for backup or for use when away from home, either keeping them private or making them public
-Backing up your computer files/data (using a company like Mozy.)
-Organizing and promoting both new and established genealogical/historical groups and events, whether informal or formal, for instance, on Facebook
-Getting and giving help/tips for using genealogical programmes on blogs, websites, forums.