Monday, 5 July 2010

New sources of information cannot be ignored

I returned from listening to Dave Brubeck on Saturday evening at the Ottawa Jazz Festival, a little bit of most enjoyable nostalgia, and turned on the TV catching the end of a crime detective program. It was stereotypical. Bright young (female) Assistant District Attorney fights to clear young (male) arson suspect already convicted in the minds of older (male) District Attorney and grizzled older (male) Fire Marshall. Based on the advice of knowledgeable but renegade (male) fire expert she clears the accused based on new information, not the dogma.

Could, or does, the same thing happen in the genealogical profession? How can you be sure that the professional genealogists you hire is up to date with developments? Do they know about developments in DNA? Do they keep up-to-date on the newly available databases online? To what extent can you rely on the person being certified by some accrediting agency meaning that they're up-to-date. They can hardly be tested on everything! Caveat emptor.

One new piece of information just coming online, letters relating to pre-Confederation British Columbia, is the subject of an editorial in the Victoria Times Colonist, which inspired this blog post, by well-known West Coast genealogist Dave Obee. He writes:

"Gazing through the mists of time gets easier every year, thanks to the Internet. More and more original material is being placed online in readily accessible form, which means more people can get lost in history. And the efforts save wear and tear on the original documents.

As more material is released, our view of our history -- and ourselves, for that matter -- is bound to change. Easier access to original documents means that some research will need to be done again, because new sources of information cannot be ignored."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The point is well made that progressive digitisation can reveal information which was not readily available to the majority of people. It also certainly will help to preserve the documents themselves. there anything more exciting than holding a 150 year old document signed or written by a family member. And of course it's not actually new information -it's been there all along, for over 150 years. It's only its ready availability that has changed and the fact we can read it at home not in a library. (I'm reminded of Helene Hanff in 84 Charing Cross Rd talking about reading at home accompanied by coffee/alcohol/cigarettes.) Pauleen