This is the best time in history to be conducting genealogical research. Genealogy has accelerated at breakneck speed since we began using computers in the 1980s or before. The introduction of the Personal Ancestral File (PAF) genealogy database software and all the subsequent programs for the PC and Macintosh has provided us with computerization of our research. It’s simply a matter of acquiring a piece of evidence and then entering the data and source citation.
The Internet brought the establishment of websites, such as RootsWeb.com, Ancestry.com, and FamilySearch.com, that allowed the upload of GEDCOM files. This allowed us to share information with other researchers and encouraged contact and collaboration with others. Message boards and e-mail mailing lists extended our research range and provided even more places to acquire information, albeit secondary or derivative evidence.
The last decade has produced software for personal data assistant (PDA) devices and SmartPhones that allow us to take our genealogy with us on these handheld tools. In addition, new genealogy social networks have been established on the Internet that allow us to upload GEDCOM files and photographs, and to share and collaborate with family, friends, and other researchers. Some of the many new free social networking sites include Amiglia (www.amiglia.com), Kincafe (www.kincafe.com), FamilyLink from the folks at WorldVitalRecords (www.familylink.com), Famiva (www.famiva.com), GeneTree (www.genetree.com), Geni (www.geni.com), Kindo (kindo.com), Living Genealogy (www.livinggenealogy.com), MyFamily.com from The Generations Network (www.myfamily.com), and MyHeritage (www.myheritage.com).
While all of these technological innovations have helped in the location of original evidentiary information, they also have undermined one of the most basic of research methods. In the race to capture the next factoid from the Internet and from database subscription sites made available through libraries and archives, many researchers have forgotten to look closely at family groups. That omission can be a costly mistake.
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