Sunday, August 6, 2017
Can We Use All of the Family History Resources and Tools?
For many people that I help with their genealogical research, the variety of programs and online resources today appear as confused as this photo of tools. There are so many options that choosing the correct tools for their own research tasks has become almost insurmountably bewildering. There are, of course, those researchers who are just beginning to become aware of the resources. Many of them are still under the impression that we start our genealogy by filling out a family group sheet or pedigree. For a lot of reasons, including access to the internet or lack of computer skills, a large number of people are entirely unaware of what is available, but the problem is still there despite their inability to perceive it.
There is literally not enough time in any one person's lifetime to even begin to look at all the genealogical resources there are in the world even for one ancestral line. So what can we do about this situation? Is there a solution with more sophisticated programs or processes? I think the answer to this problem lies in aggregating the experience and efforts of a lot of people simultaneously.
Interesting, there is a solution. We can all pool our efforts. That way, if through my research, I find some information that is pertinent and answers questions about one of my ancestors, then all of my relatives with the same ancestor do not have to do the same research or use the same tools. They can look for other information. To a large measure, genealogists in every generation repeat the work done by their predecessors. In my own experience, I have spent the larger part of my life simply discovering what some of my relatives have already done.
So where do I go to get a solution to this problem? My answer is the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. Because of my focus on the Family Tree, I am not re-doing all of the research done by my relatives. I am actually making progress.
Now, what about those researchers out there who, for whatever reason, are not aware of or do not want to use the Family Tree? The answer is that they will not be aware of what anyone else has done and will likely repeat some or all of the research. The content in the Family Tree is not perfect and we all need to understand how the program works, but it is saving us from repeating a lot of work that would have been repeated.
No, we cannot use all of the resources and tools for doing genealogical research. But we can combine our efforts into one central clearing house, the Family Tree, so we don't end up repeating what has already been done.