Joan Miller, Passionate Genealogist
This is the first of a series of guest posts by expert or experienced genealogists. Online Genealogy is a growing field and there are lots of great resources out there as well as some horrible resources that claim to have valuable information but you end up going around in circles trying to find something you can use.
I recently asked a few genealogists to comment on the following questions related to online genealogy research:
I was amazed by some of the answers I got back, and I can’t wait to share them with you! My first guest post is by Joan Miller, a passionate genealogist who enjoys sharing her research techniques with others through the use of genealogy social networking and interaction online. This is what Joan Miller had to say:
What do you think the future can bring with regards to online genealogy research?
I feel the future of online genealogy research will be about global community and helping each other. There is a dramatic increase of people writing genealogy blogs, twittering and creating Facebook pages.
These avenues produce results. For example, a blog post and subsequent twitter about your great grandparents or perhaps that brick wall surname can lead to connections that could give you fresh perspectives on where and how to research.
We will also see additions to the large genealogy databases, books and history resources on line. It is important to remember that online records represent only a small fraction of the resources available to the genealogy researcher and are only one part of the genealogical research process.
What online tools do you use to research your genealogy and why?
I subscribe to or have access to many of the large online paid genealogy databases through genealogical society memberships. I also own a genealogy blog called Luxegen Genealogy and Family History which produces connections on a regular basis. When I publish a post, my blog automatically sends a tweet to Twitter (which is indexed immediately in the search engines) and I can choose to have it update to my Facebook page. I also use Google’s Buzz. These online social networking tools have the potential of reaching many millions of people which can lead to family tree connections.
I also find it valuable to subscribe to other researcher’s blogs, newsletters and Facebook pages in order to make connections and gain valuable research insights from fellow genealogy researchers. There is a wealth of genealogy expertise being presented by both individuals and genealogical societies in the online world. Ask a question and you will be answered.
Other valuable tools that aid the sharing of genealogy techniques and tips online are podcasts and video.
What is your general opinion of the advantages and/or disadvantages of using some of these online research tools?
The advantages of using online genealogy tools are many. These include the convenience of researching on your own computer in the comfort of your own home. There are plethora of online databases and more information coming online daily.
We can reach a global genealogy audience quickly and efficiently through the power of social networking. And we may interest a younger generation in genealogy by using the social networking platforms that are part of their online realm.
The disadvantages are to be very aware that online databases represent only one small part of the genealogy research tool kit. Many millions of resources are still only available in paper held in remote churches, public archives and records offices.
It is also important to remember that online records had to be interpreted, indexed and recorded. We are only human and handwriting could be misinterpreted. When researching a surname online try every possible surname variation. Also be aware of the historical boundaries of counties, provinces, states and countries. Your ancestors may have been located in one county in one era and another county several years later due to boundary changes. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find what you are looking for in the online databases. Try other resources and ask the online genealogy community for help.
This is not an comprehensive list of the online genealogy tools and their advantages and disadvantages but instead is a quick overview. I suggest you embrace the technology but understand the limitations.
Good luck in your research!
Joan Miller has been pursuing genealogy for approximately 20 years and enjoys sharing her research techniques with others through the use of genealogy social networking and interaction online. A published author with scientific, genealogy and photo journalism credits, she writes primarily about Canadian genealogy resources, news and views, including summaries of genealogy talks and meetings she has attended worldwide. She blogs at Luxegen Genealogy and Family History
and is on Twitter as @luxegen. Empty nesters, Joan and her husband (and their daughter’s cat) live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.