Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Monday, March 04, 2013

Thinking back . . .

I've been sitting here pondering what it must have been like for those who researched their family history in the days before computers and databases. It really hasn't been that long. It must have been a monumental task to keep everything organized if one wanted to present that research in any semblance of order and to provide documentation. (I'm sure some never recorded their sources, but others probably simply couldn't locate the piece of paper with that information on it.)

Computers and databases were in operation when I began my own research. I believe I started on Windows 3.1 with a genealogical database that contained fields for things like births, marriages, and deaths, but not much more. One had a total of 10 lines in which to write any notes or track sources. Let's just say that it was somewhat impossible to have a properly documented database.

I'm quite grateful for databases of today like RootsMagic and Legacy Family Tree which provide us plenty of space for note-taking as well as the ability to create citations that meet standards.  If we can't locate that piece of paper with that specific information, we can at least know what our source was so we can locate it again!

I have no idea why I began thinking of this this morning, but I hope I'll be a bit more forgiving of the people who compiled genealogies in the days before computers without properly documenting the sources to current standards which didn't even exist back then.


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