Gena Philibert Ortega: Professional Genealogist
Gena Philibert Ortega is a well known online genealogist. She writes several blogs, one about her own genealogy research; she is the editor of the World Vital Records newsletter; and she manages online genealogy social networking site, Genealogy Wise. She has a strong background in the relatively new field of online genealogy. So I asked Gena:
This is what Gena had to say when I asked her these questions:
What do you think the future can bring with regards to online genealogy research?
Overall, the future will provide greater online access to photos and documents for family history researchers. I think we will see more genealogists using social networking tools to network with other researchers and family. I think that this will allow more photos and documents to be available as family historians upload these items to share on social network sites and on the internet.
I also think we will see more archives, museums and libraries digitizing their materials for easier access to researchers. This both benefits the repository so that they are able to preserve the item better, less people touching it, and allows researchers greater access.
What online tools do you use to research your genealogy and why?
I have subscriptions to several genealogy websites that I use regularly. I use these sites as a starting point to gather items about my ancestors. I also refer to state archive and library websites. I use WorldCat to find books and other materials I may need for research.
I use social networking sites like GenealogyWise (where I am the Community Manager), Facebook and Twitter. Facebook has been very helpful to me in contacting family members, asking them questions and having them help me identify old family photos.
What is your general opinion of the advantages and/or disadvantages of using some of these online research tools?
We are greatly blessed to have so many online tools at our hands. There is no comparison between how my grandmother worked on her genealogy more than 30 years ago and how I research today. But it’s important to remember that you cannot do all of your genealogy online. Genealogy is about going out and finding primary documents that tell the story of your ancestor’s life. It’s about interviewing family, seeking out home sources, visiting libraries, archives, churches, courthouses and museums. Compared to all that is available, the internet holds just a small portion of the information we need to do our family history research.
I also like to point out privacy issues to those that are on social networking sites. It’s important to be smart about what you post and reveal on a social networking site. Social networking is a tool and just like any tool you use for genealogy, it’s important to know how to use it and what the benefits and drawbacks are.
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