For anyone who has spent any time researching genealogy, they know that there are two different experiences. Some people find the research tiring after spending hours and hours jumping from one record to another. But there are those who discover something different, a mystery lurking around every corner.
What makes the difference? It all starts with your personal goals.
“Research is not just about accessing records, it’s about understanding why the record is created,” Vicki Eldridge told the Hills Shire Times.
Eldridge, a professional genealogist who owns Twigs & Branches, began her journey more than 20 years ago before the Internet. Instead, she joined the Society of Australian Genealogists and earned a diploma.
She is also very outspoken about attempting to research information on the Internet. Specifically, she says that the Internet provides a growing number of tools. But unless someone has already done the real detective work, the Internet tends to produce more leads than actual information. Reading actual documents will reveal much more.
Half a world away in Springfield, Mo., Marilyn Ables feels much the same. Instead of relying on the Internet, she brings notebooks full of her family’s history to the local Springfield-Green County Library.
She was recently featured on the local news after discovering just how much information could be found about her family right there. In additional to attending a workshop there, she found several books of local history that contained mentions and stories about her family.
Where Celebrating Legacy hopes to help fill in the gaps.
“In many ways, genealogy is still catching up to the Internet because there is so much information that needs to be scanned, sorted and made searchable,” said Randy Sutton, president of Celebrating Legacy. “Even then, much of those documents are only slivers of information that take up a considerable amount of time while detracting beginners from resources that may never be scanned.”
Sutton sees the solution as two-fold. First, he said families would best be served by using the Internet to make it easier for future generations to find information about their lives. Second, he said that filling in the details of immediate family members as well as any historic connections would be a tremendous benefit.
“There really are mysteries and unanswered questions in every family, and some of those mysteries are closer than you think,” said Sutton. “Nothing was made more clear to me than when I authored by first book in 2005. We all have stories to tell and in some cases, our parents and grandparents have entrusted us to tell their stories because it wasn’t as easy for them to record everything like we can today.”
Sutton says that most families pass some stories orally from generation to generation. But over time, unless someone writes them down, they become lost to time or, in some cases, more difficult to prove. All of them are pieces of history from a unique perspective, everything from why some ancestors decided to immigrate to a new country to what it might have been like to live during the Great Depression or the aftermath of World War II. Memories, he said, that deserve preservation.