Back when

Before this:

PC

I drove two hours one way to get here to view census records:

National Archives in Laguna Niguel, California

National Archives in Laguna Niguel, California

Yep, genealogy was way different back then. It kinda reminds of me Tim McGraw’s song “Back When,” in which he reminisces about life in the good ‘ol days. In an era of immediate gratification, where we can download our favorite songs from iTunes and play them nearly anywhere, any time of the day, Tim laments:

 

I love my records
Black, shiny vinyl
Clicks and pops
And white noise
Man they sounded fine
I had my favorite stations
The ones that played them all
Country, soul and rock-and-roll
What happened to those times?

Like Tim, sometimes I miss the good ‘ol days too.  Nothing like the smell of a musty old book to bring me back to my years when I first began my search for my ancestors. Yes, things were quite different in the world of genealogy then.   So….do you remember when?

 

Before this:

Census record on Ancestry.com

Census record on Ancestry.com

All genealogists knew how to use this:

microfilm reader

microfilm reader

Before this:

FamilySearch.org

FamilySearch.org

One viewed the IGI like this:

IGI records copied from microfiche, viewed at my local Family History Center

IGI records copied from microfiche at my local Family History Center

Before this:
facebook-logo-2012

Genealogists used this to find cousins:
telephone_directory

Before this:
cyndislist

Genealogists used this as one of their number one resources:
handy book

Before this:

RootsMagic database

RootsMagic database

Genealogists kept their records like this:

FGS

Before this:
evidence explained

Most genealogists sources looked like this:

Yep, our sources were pretty much non-existent.

Yep, our sources were pretty much non-existent.

 

Before this:
eastman

We waited every couple of months for this to find out what was new in genealogy:

Genealogical Helper

Before this:
iphone

We stood in line at libraries to use this:

copier

Before this:

Google earth lets us visit lands far away

Google earth lets us visit lands far away

We did this to instead see where our ancestors lived:

plane

We used to fly to do onsite research

Before this:
findagrave

We visited this:

Salisbury Cove Cemetery in Bar Harbor, Maine

Salisbury Cove Cemetery in Bar Harbor, Maine

Before this:

You can order birth, death and marriage certificates online and receive them in just days

You can order birth, death and marriage certificates online and receive them in just days

We went here to get vital records:

Barnstable County Courthouse

Barnstable Courthouse

Before this:

Library of Congress's Chronicling America site

Library of Congress’s Chronicling America site

We viewed old newspapers like this:

Bound issue of the Farmington (Maine) Chronicle

Bound issue of the Farmington (Maine) Chronicle

Before this:

Kennebec County map, downloaded from Library of Congress

Kennebec County map, downloaded from Library of Congress

We purchased this:

map

Before this:
gmail

We did this:

Writing letter to a friend.

While I must admit to relishing the instant gratification the internet and computers have provided to us as we research our family history, in many ways I do miss the “olden days” of genealogy.  Those were the days when we actually took the time to write letter to collaborate with our cousins when researching family lines, when we studied the documents we copied off that day at the library, and actually read books on paper instead of in ebook format.  While we’ve gained a lot over the last thirty years or so (hasn’t the internet helped all of us break down a brick wall or two?), in many ways I miss the slower days of research.  Yup, taking time to really relish a find instead of fiendishly looking to solve the next big mystery, enjoying the anticipation of getting new documents in the daily mail, and just savoring the moment of getting to know an ancestor a bit better.

So, now’s your turn – what do you miss?


10 responses to “Back when

%d bloggers like this: