|I'm sure most of you have used this at one time or another|
HOW IT ALL STARTED
It was a dark & stormy night. Or was it a bright and sunny day? I can’t recall.
When I began this wonderful journey of finding out more about my ancestors I had little information on my paternal side and some information on my maternal side. I wanted to learn more. Who were my great grandparents? Where did they come from? How did they live? There was just so much I didn’t know. I began with what I did know.
I had some names & dates from conversations with my parents. And I had a family tree for my mother’s family, handwritten by my maternal grandmother.
If we go back to the very beginning, we would be in the year 2000. I had a hunger to learn more about my family. I talked to some friends and they suggested I go to the (FHC) Family History Center here in San Diego and look at census records on microfilm. That’s exactly what I did. I honestly can’t tell you all the details about that first visit. What I can tell you is that I was assisted by some very nice ladies at the center who helped this novice learn how to operate a microfilm reader.
I began with the 1900 census, which I knew, should contain all my grandparents. I scrolled and scrolled through those pages. Then suddenly……there she was!!
My grandmother, Florence Bowden, 12 years old, living with her mother & sister. I was so excited. It seemed surreal to me to think of my grandma as a young girl. I know that was when I did my first genealogy happy dance (I just didn’t know it).
I went back to the FHC again and found more census records. The ladies at the center also told me about ordering SS-5 (social security applications) records for my grandparents. They said those forms may have their parent’s names on them and provide more proof of identity.
Here are the handwritten notes from those first two visits. Don't laugh.
How different are the research methods we use now?
Here are just a few of the things we didn’t have, or had little of in 2000, just 14 years ago:
- Digital cameras to photograph books or documents. Yes, you could use a film camera, but few people did. And yes, there were digital cameras, but the majority of people were still using film.
- Hand held scanners/wands to save those book or document pages.
- Computers and laptops in nearly every home. I had purchased my first computer in 1986 and was a decade or more ahead of most of my friends.
- Flash drives to save documents that we find online while researching at a library or courthouse or family history center.
- The large variety of software databases that we now have available.
- Facebook to connect with family, friends and genealogy groups.
- Evernote to save & organize what we find.
- Google Earth to zoom in to places our ancestors lived.
- Online data was nearly non-existent. It wasn’t until August of 2000 that Ancestry.com began to add actual images of Federal census records to it’s site. Here is a screenshot of some of the history of Ancestry.com. To learn more about the history of their site go to http://corporate.ancestry.com/about-ancestry/company-info/company-history/
There's a LOT more that wasn't available to us back in 2000 and before, but you get the general idea.
I did go ahead and order those Social Security Application forms for all 4 of my grandparents. Turns out only three of them had applied. Let me just say that those applications provided me with information that I didn’t have, and got me well under way to becoming a dedicated (some would say addicted) genealogist. Stay tuned for another post covering Social Security Applications.
I was well on my way, when about 6 months later I changed my working status from part time to full time. My research came to a screeching halt. But only for 2 years. Then my husband and I met a couple on a cruise and when we began talking with them, the wife, Debbie, told me she was doing some genealogy research. I was all ears. She told me that lots of information was coming online now and she filled me in on all the details. I was excited to get back home and see what I could find.
NOTE: I purchased my first computer in 1986 and upgraded frequently. I have always had a zeal for technology.
The rest, as they say, is history. That couple we met became close friends, even though we live in California & they live in Texas. Debbie and I began exchanging information about how to research, what we found, who we found, etc. Just ask our husbands how much time we spent together during visits and on the phone.
Genealogy has come a long way in those 14 years. I know that many of you out there began your research decades ago. I would love to hear how long ago you started and how you think our research methods have improved or maybe not improved during that time.
OTHER POSTS THAT YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY
Surname Saturday - Milne - More about my Grandmother
My Interview on Geneabloggers
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