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Technology has changed how we do genealogical research. I'm sure you've discovered how exciting it is to find a family tree record online and then organize it and share it with your family members. That's not to say that it's easy now. You do run into occasional dead ends or brick walls, but compared to 25 years ago, resolving those dead ends is much easier now than it was then. So it was kind of a way to close out my tutorial series on genealogy for lynda.com. I want to take you back 25 years to when I started my family tree research.
I started my quest by spending a week, a week at the Seattle Regional Office of the National Archives using sort of a hit-or-miss indexing system to try and find old census records. After scrolling through roll after roll of microfilm, I finally tracked down this 1920 census tecord from my great grandparents in Brooklyn, New York. I made this fuzzy-looking printout that's barely legible. Well, from this, I decided to go to New York and look at the records in the county offices there. I found this printout on their microfilm of my grandfather's birth certificate.
My dad got so excited about my finding this. So he encouraged me to go to Ireland and Germany. I found a small church there in Lavelsloh, Germany, where I could go through their original handwritten records. They allowed me to make printouts on their copier of those records for marriage, births and deaths. Well, this little quest got me a few snippets of information and cost a lot of money and took a lot of time. I have no regrets. It was an exciting process, but that was then, and this is now. This is the same census record that took me a week to track down at the National Archives office, except this one took me all of a few seconds and a few mouse clicks to track down online at Ancestry.com.
The image is much easier to read. I can see when my great grandparents immigrated, that my great-grandfather was a dairy products salesman and his 17- year-old daughter, my great-aunt, was a stenographer at a bond house. With a couple of more mouse clicks, I entered most of the data from this census record directly into my Family Tree Maker software. So no more marginally legible printouts, no more transcribing my chicken scratch in to computer files. Even that little church in Lavelsloh, Germany, now has its records online. I hope that your family tree quest is as exciting and productive as mine was, and that you have many opportunities to share your family stories.
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