Monday, February 25, 2008

Times They Are a Changing

I was working on my genealogy updates this weekend, in preparation for my spring trip to Alabama. I ran across some notes that I had made for the daughter of a Lentz ancestor. I had received some information awhile back from someone via email, but there were still holes in the family group sheet. I thought to myself, "I'll bet I can find that online pretty quick." I did. In the process I printed off several census records I had not yet pulled and then decided to check the historical newspapers in the event that one of the parents might have an obituary online. I not only found obituaries for both parents, but also for half of their children. With all of this material, I was able to fill in the blanks on the family group sheet in no time.

From there, I checked FindaGrave and had no luck. On a whim, I checked the Abilene Municipal Cemetery listings that have been placed online by the City of Abilene and found the parents and several of their children and children's spouses listed, complete with grave location. In an hour I had a pretty well complete info sheet for this family where I had holes before.

It's remarkable the strides that are being made in the online genealogy arena. Yes, some of the subscriptions are pretty steep, but when you compare the price to the number of years of effort and trips that would have been necessary in the old days to find this information, it's well worth it. My Ancestry and Godfrey and World Vital Records and Footnote subscriptions have all more than paid for themselves in time saved.

The whim to complete this Lentz family portrait resulted in my revisiting the newspaper bank at the Godfrey site and learning that they've added a lot since I was last there. I began digging out obituaries, personals, marriage notices and other odds and ends and spent most of the weekend printing out my finds. Instead of getting on with updating what I had already found, I doubled the stack of unposted records I need to deal with before the trip.

It's a good time to be a genealogist. The newcomers to the hobby will never know how much work it used to take. Of course there's never anything so wonderful as finding that dusty book in the bottom of the courthouse that has the clue that leads you to breaking down a brick wall. The internet is wonderful, but dust up your nose is bliss.


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