Sunday, March 30, 2014

NOT Your Grandma's Genealogy!

Genealogy is now spoken of in broader terms: Family History.  The old brochures and booklets and paper charts have fallen by the wayside straight into the recycle bin.  Microfilm and those dusty clunky readers are still sometimes necessary, but I research constantly and haven't used one in quite a while.   The key to success now are the fantastic family history websites.,,,,, and tons of other sites are so full of information that you could spend 40-hour weeks for years without running out of sources to search.

We have gone from THIS:

the Family Tree feature on


And hundreds of other research websites.  On these sites I can peruse my ancestor's birth/ marriage/ burial records from their Greek Catholic parishes in a remote mountainous corner of northeastern Slovakia. Or I can compare possible family tree connections with potential relatives previously unknown to me.  I can view my grandparents' immigration manifest on (my Baba arrived in the US with $17 in her pocket!).   I can view gravestones of family members who are buried thousands of miles away in cemeteries I'll never get to.  All this without leaving home.

The  Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has for over 100 years been the leader in collecting and storing family history sources.  They have over 2 million rolls of microfilm containing data from around the globe.  About 5 years ago they began digitizing all those rolls, and as soon as each one of those is indexed it is posted on a free site:  Every month millions of newly digitized records are added.  It's a marvelous miracle, thanks to the blessing of technological advances.

Here are just a couple of examples of personal miracles I have experienced because of the technology we now use:

1.  A few years ago a young man in Slovakia whose ancestors came from my Grandparents' villages contacted me via Facebook to compare information and relationships.  I was able to share with him (through Ancestry and FamilySearch) the boatload of info I've accumulated over 40 years of work, and he has been able to dig up new un-microfilmed family information in the Slovak archives to share with me via email.

2. I had long ago found the 3 children of my great-grandmother's brother, Matt Sullivan.  But a few months ago I was doing a computer search on a different Matt Sullivan in my family, and the name of the first Matt came up in the search results about 8 times, showing him as the father of 4 more children, all of whom died very young.  Yes, he actually has 7 children; those other 4 would not have been found without the search tools on that website.

Much more could be said.  You get the idea.  If you have not thought about looking for family, or if you have become discouraged in the past by inaccessibility of records, now is the time to dig in!

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