Wednesday, May 2, 2012

History meets Technology

The darndest thing happened to me this week. I am suddenly very interested in genealogy. It has been a really fun week, balancing this crazy impulse to research and seek out my relatives.

Now that I have a clear head, I can look back over my lifetime and see where those seeds of interest have been planted.

I grew up with my mom, and probably my dad too, taking us to the old downtown library in Fort Wayne. We would go up to the family history area, and my mom would find films, and scroll through them for hours. At home she would sit down with a table or the floor spread with large books and binders, huge sheets of papers, and work on what she called our 'pedigree' charts. I have vivid memories of this, all through my childhood. I remember her sitting down with me and showing me how to fill out my own.

Then quite a few years ago, my oldest sister was bitten by the bug, and put together amazing research and information, particularly for my mom's side of the family. At that time I had the attitude, Im so glad she's doing this, now I dont have to!

Then there was the time I was the church leader for our group of 8-11 year old girls. One of their activities was to visit the Family History Center at our church building. I remember the woman talking to the girls, and showing us her personal history - which she carried on a flash drive around her neck. She scrolled and clicked until we followed her line of relatives to Adam and Eve... What? Amazing!

And just last year, I finally decided to log into the website. I got a pedigree chart from Erick's side of the family, and plugged some of his dad's relatives, which was fun when I found Brigham Young on our chart.

So, scatterings of interest, curiosity, and here I am. Addicted. This week I was able to use resources available on the internet to find some relatives on my dad's side of the family. I also learned how to index. Which is taking scanned in documents - such as census lists, handwritten, from long ago - and typing them into a large database. I love seeing this old cursive, hard to read, handwriting. Imagining some older man or woman, with a briefcase, walking along homes and roads, knocking on doors, and asking who lives there, and getting their ages and names.

This information gets collected, so that as we scroll through history, we can find our families - all from our computer screens. What a wonderful work!

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