C has to be for Computer
Where would I be without a computer to support my genealogy habit?
I think that I started researching my ancestry in 1988. Although I was the proud owner of a 286 model computer (with the Intel to 20986 chip
) at that time I did not use it for my research rather I kept my data on index cards, my notes in a spiral-bound notebook and, as I do today, my certificates and documents in three-ring binders.
After I took delivery of of my Osborn 486-25 120mb HDD computer @ $AU3395 with 5 year warranty on April 6, 1992 I gave serious thought to using it for genealogy. Initially I developed a home-grown spreadsheet to record my data and then moved on to using database software. I realised that there must be more people in the world who were trying to do the same thing so I investigated commercially developed genealogy software packages.
|IBM 286 Computer|
I cannot remember the names the first two genealogy the andpackages I purchased and tried. I puddled along with their use for a few years before finding and purchasing The Master Genealogist
for $185 from Gould Genealogy
in 1997. I have been using that program now for 15 years. Recently I decided to investigate other software packages and have purchased The Family Historian
(for significantly less dollars) which I think I will use as my main application.
It was in the mid nineties that I started working in a school that had a laptop program. This gave me access to a laptop for home use and, as a volunteer for any educational initiative, I was given unlimited free dial-up Internet access. Once I had that laptop I was became aware of its possibilities; it was not long before I had purchased my own laptop and started using that for genealogy. Since then I have owned a host of laptops including heavy ones, light ones, touchscreen ones, Macs and PCs. Presently I have a laptop, netbook and tablet.
Undertaking an internet training course in 1995 got me completely hooked. I organised access for home and email addresses for the family and we joined the information superhighway
. Some time before the turn of the century I started using Rootsweb mailing lists
to communicate with other genealogists. Somehow I managed to connect via email and Rootsweb with new found cousins who generously shared their data with me but, in the the early days, by snail mail.
Fast forward to today. I use my computers on a daily basis for genealogical pursuits. Social media allows me to communicate and collaborate with cousins and genealogy contacts all around the globe in both synchronous and asynchronous modes. I am able to share ancestor anecdotes and genealogy news via my blogs. The family history
that I have chosen to publish on the Internet is not static like a printed family history, it is a dynamic, living family history that I am able to update on a regular basis as new information comes to hand. Although I still make many visits to libraries and archives to look at original documents computers make it possible for me to prepare for these visits by using the online catalogues from these repositories. Similarly digitisation projects have enabled me to carry out research and access copies of original documents from the comfort of my kitchen.
I am flummoxed when I meet family historians who do not own computers or, if they do, do not use their computers for recording or researching their family histories.
A computer is an essential tool for the 21st century genealogist.