After listening to five of the seven online video-streams, I was thoroughly bewildered by all the choices: so many strategies, so many concepts to absorb. If I felt like this after such a small smattering of talks, I can’t begin to imagine the impact of listening to all the sessions live. Or the thrill of meeting delegates from so many places. It must have been incredibly stimulating.
So why am I bewildered and bemused?
Having started my research in advance of the digital era my records are a mix of hard-copy, written notes, digital files, hard-copy or digital photos, super 8 film, video film and so on.
Where to start with ensuring its all preserved, put online, kept up-to-date and accessible for future generations? How long will that take (how long is a piece of string)?
A prevailing assumption throughout the talks was that everyone’s research is predicated on recording our family stories and I’m sure that is the intention of every family historian. But how successful are we at doing this? The very bower-bird habits that make us love the hunt for new clues, names and locations, tends to inhibit us from actually documenting our stories….we’re never really “finished” on this trail of ancestors, so we can’t write/record it, can we? This is possibly our greatest weakness as we collect our maze of information which may be indecipherable to even our closest kin if we don’t draw it together.
Lynn at The Armchair Genealogist http://www.thearmchairgenealogist.com/ has a great blog to help anyone kick-start their family history: to paraphrase Ancestry “you don’t need to know what you’re going to write, just start writing”. Again the strategies are important, but getting started is the first, most important, and somewhat scary step. Lynn has also challenged fellow family historians to commence their project this month, and even though we’re half way through February, there’s nothing to stop you beginning now, using her posts to help you along.
Each of the RootsTech speakers I heard challenged us in different ways:
1. To include newbies in our enthusiasm for our obsession, sorry, hobby.
2. To ensure we keep us with technology, and ensure our own archives remain accessible to the new technology
3. That we need to have a web presence if we want to spread the word about genealogy generally but our own family research in particular
4. To volunteer to digitise or index records for all to access
5. To maintain the security and integrity of our records
6. Get our stories “out there”
To respond to Carole Riley’s twitter challenge (@CaroleRiley):
My own take-home messages from the video-streamed sessions were:
1. The importance of actually recording our family and personal stories, for current and future generations: that’s what all the online resources are provided for. Blogs do provide a great way of sharing our information.
2. The importance of keeping our digital archives in multiple locations, selecting the right format to use, and to review and update the format regularly. (A lot of work in this one).
3. The potential influence of family historians on archives and libraries and in particular the digitisation of records.