Remember when?

The following was written three years ago with the intention of submitting it to Mennonite Family History. I didn’t… but it has remained at the top of my “draft” blog messages. Lacking energy and incentive, I post it today so the reader knows I am alive (but not well). ~~ As written, no editing.

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Do you remember the monster machines where we viewed rolls of microfilm? If you’re an “old-timer” (like me) you spent hours winding the spools of film. We were grateful for the genealogy library at the local Morman church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). You appreciated the assistance of volunteers.

Things have changed rapidly! Back then we had “land lines” and answering machines. Now people carry their “smart phones” (although I have an old-fashioned “flip” cell phone).

Do people go to genealogy libraries any more? I don’t. Like millions of other researchers,  sit in the comfort of my home, using the Internet, and document data in Ancestry.com. The “new age” researchers are missing the identification with like-minded folks “climbing the family tree.” Where are they getting their instructions?

I’m an “old-timer” reminiscing about the “old days.” Checking card files in the library, ordering books from “the stacks”; visually scanning indexes for familiar surnames.

Remember when we drove to the library in Salt Lake City, Utah, or Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana? One of my most memorable visits was Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society Library, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Not only the library, but (on that occasion) a huge book sale on the parking lot.

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Reams if paper for photocopies; three-hole binders for relevant information. File cabinets full of folders identifying family surnames. I kept it all; I’ve moved it from location to location: Lancaster, California to Brookville, Ohio. From there to North Carolina and eventually Texas. Now I’m “scanning” the pages and publishing to the Internet. Yes, for the convenience of “armchair researchers,” I’m putting the information in a “digitized library”: Digitized Library of Family History.

You don’t need to tramp the LaVerne Evergreen Cemetery searching for Brethren ancestors. You can find them with a few computer keystrokes. You don’t need to buy the book, it’s free. So many genealogy resources are digitized–and free. Enjoy them in the comfort of your air-conditioned home.

This old-lady has fond memories of tramping cemeteries. I’d travel there with my little camping trailer; I’d spend the night (in the cemetery) and start early the next morning. I’d visit with families; I’d glean valuable data.

Those were “the good old days.” There would be a sympathetic ear to listen attentively when I bubbled with enthusiasm over a recent discovery. Recently I lamented (to myself)  because I had nobody to share the delight of making a mental surname connection before it appeared on the computer screen.  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I wrote that paragraph as an “if only….”

 

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