01 November 2012

A HIATUS AND A NEW BLOG: THE CHANGING FACE OF GENEALOGY

     I have had great difficulty writing this blog for the past year or so because the world of genealogy has undergone many rapid changes. On the bright side, amazing amounts of records are now available online. But, as the online databases have become concentrated in fewer and fewer hands--both commercial and non-commercial--the costs of researching our ancestors has risen, while the accuracy of the transcriptions has fallen. The pricing structures have become so convoluted on a few sites that I no longer browse their records. I felt as if my reporting on the world of genealogy was rapidly becoming free advertising or endorsing for these sites.
      The sophistication of many search engines has also given rise to a new kind of family historian: the "cutter-paster." I am alarmed at the explosion of online trees containing my ancestors in error. I was especially depressed when I found a "cut and paste" tree that contained my late father and brother. I cannot verify that my family belongs in that tree at all.
      I was hurt and angry because I felt as if the owner of the tree did not know my dad nor my brother. He or she did not know the story of these two lives, and obviously they did not care. The person did not know that my father was a policeman nor that my brother loved to listen to Grand Funk Railroad. Jim and Jimmy Large are only two more beans in that family pot.
      So, I turned to the work that comforts me when I am feeling down--finding and sharing family stories.
      I have found that many family historians are timid about collecting and preserving their ancestral lore. Some of us have been put off by genealogists who scoff at family tales as worthless unless the stories provide a useful tool for finding records. But, there is a worth in every family story if it is approached with tact and reason. Many of us are afraid of picking up that pen or hitting that keyboard because we feel that we are missing the writing skills necessary to produce a first-class, written family history.
      I hope to convince you otherwise! There is no one way of preserving your stories, and the important point is that you DO preserve them, no matter how terse or inelegant the form. Along the way, I hope to convince many readers to begin to write about their own lives, too.
      Let's go spill the family beans!  Visit my new adventure of collecting and preserving family lore at
http://www.spillingthefamilybeans.com/
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     I hope to continue to update Help! The Faerie Folk Hid My Ancestors, so please check back here often as well!