Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Human Element of Genealogy . .

Genealogical research is not easy stuff.  Its getting more accessible as more and more records come online and as they come online become either indexed or OCR'd.  Numerous sources are available, though, only offline.

I got a few of those sources the other day from the Northern New York American-Canadian Genealogical Society.

They aren't original source documents. Rather, they are compilations. These compilations aren't my favorite as I am inherently somewhat mistrustful of the work of others. But on the other "hand" (pun intended but not obvious until you see below), without the efforts of these people -- often volunteers - a ton of raw information simply wouldn't be accessible.

I dream of a world where all of the source records are imaged, OCR'd, indexed, searchable and wiki'd for discussion as to whether handwriting means "LaPorte" or "LaPoint" because of someone's fancy or sloppy cursive. A super-dream would be to have the information further linked to one or more "universal" trees or "wiki" trees to provide further context for judging whether its LaPorte or LaPoint. I think I may live to see that day, but its not hear yet.

But this is all a very long digression for the actual point of the post -- the "human element" of genealogical research. What prompted this post wasn't my curiousity for the "human element" of the subjects of my research -- my 3GRGR, etc. -- but of the tools to that end.

I came across the image below while searching Google Books. Its a lineage book from the Daughter's of the American Revolution (the DAR and SAR are great sources of research if the ancestors you are looking for were or were descendant from "Patriots" during the Revolutionary War).  The image below struck me and reminded of what I've noted above -- without the tireless work of volunteers* much of the research that I do would be either imposssible or at the very least, much, much, much more difficult.

So, Lady with the huge diamond ring:  "Thanks for scanning this book" and "thanks" for reminding me of the "human element" of genealogical research.

*The size of the Diamond Ring suggests to me that this is not a paid Google employee or Indian outsourced worker.  I'm guessing a DAR volunteer.

Post Script:  sorry for those of you who's ancestor's page references have been obscured here.  Thankfully, Google Books is searchable and the index is redundant.

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