Friday, 6 November 2009

Recent family history history

If you've been interested in genealogy and family history for ten or more years you have experienced plenty of changes. I had a chance to go through a sample of back issues, mostly January issues, of the UK Family Tree (FT) magazine to see how changes have been reflected in its content, focusing on the Internet. It's likely as I only looked at one issue oer year, and only scanned that, I may have missed some detail.

The word Internet first occurred in a FT article title in 1994, but the first issue available to me, for January 1995, contained no web or e-mail addresses. There was a computer section, mainly devoted to CD-ROMs.

In January 1996 e-mail started to make its appearance with one ad quoting a CompuServe address.

The following January FT included several e-mail addresses although most ads still didn't have them. The issue had a book review which contained the phrase world wide web, and there was one advertisement, for S&N Genealogy Supplies, that contained a web address.

By the January 1998 issue FT itself had an e-mail address. That issue also contained a list of the "best" World Wide Web sites. These included Genuki and Cyndi's list. None of the addresses work today.

By the following January (1999) FT itself had a website. As reflected in the magazine content, the Internet was largely used for email, as an electronic brochure and product catalog. Online shopping for items to be shipped was just starting to come into vogue.

FT's February 2000 edition mentioned digitization of popular records in an article reviewing UK government policy directions. There was also an article The Impact of the Internet on the Essex Society for Family History. Apparently that Society started its own website in May 1997. The following March the site had a total of 800 visitors. Later that year a survey found that one UK family history society had ventured into e-commerce. However, many of the magazine's ads still contained no e-mail or web address and data was primarily offered on CD-ROM.

The January 2001 issue has an article on establishing and developing Internet services. That was an area of active interest as the government embarked upon digitization and online access to the 1901 census of England and Wales.

A year later, January 2002, there was substantial Internet content within the computer section of the magazine. It contained a notice that in future in the computer section the http:// prefix would not be included. This was also a period of setback as the much trumpeted 1901 census website crashed only a few hours after it was launched and didn't come back into service until much later in the year.

By January 2003 the computer section was dominated by Internet resources. Later that year there was an article on newspaper archives online.

The January 2004 issue had an ad for 1837online.com. FT in January 2005 included ads for 1837online, familyrelatives, BMDIndex, and documentsonline. The January 2006 issue added ancestry.co.uk and genesreunited.

January 2007 saw ads for thegenealogist, familyhistoryonline, and findmypast (a name change from 1837online). Most articles included web addresses, as did most of the ads.

January 2008's issue included an ad for the digitized Guardian and Observer newspaper archive.

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