Monday, December 29, 2008

I Raise Dust Bunnies as Pets

As I've been trying to get anything worthwhile off the old, unreliable HP laptop, I've found a lot of old photos, documents, etc. that I've taken, scanned, written over the last twenty years. Hard to believe that DH and I got our first home computer 21 years ago. And it was around that time that I really got interested in tracking my family's history and keeping it in a somewhat organized manner. Someone introduced me to my first genealogy program at a user's group meeting and it created a monster.

That initial database of immediate family grew to 308 people. I don't know why I remember that number so vividly, but there was a time when some programs were not compatible with GEDCOM (GEnealogical Data COMmunication) standards, so I had to retype all the information in a second time when I changed programs from Genealogy on Display to Brother's Keeper. Brother's Keeper was the first program that I used that allowed simple source keeping. Sourcing was something I was sort of lax on when I first started, now I am fanatical about it.

Somewhere along the way, I got the idea to interview my parents. That was such a great idea. I now have some idea what it was like for my parents when they were growing up. I still have them on tape and transcriptions of the interviews.

As computer technology grew, so did the genealogy programs. From Brother's Keeper, I moved to Family Origins, and the on to Rootsmagic. Current programs allow you to "write" your family history, and will also print photos, sources, footnotes, just about anything you want.

When we bought our first modem, I installed it. I can't believe I did it, but I did. It was a 14400 modem. I thought it was so fast! Internet access was by dial-up! And we did this with one phone line. Email lists began correspondence with other people researching family names like Percival, Maitland, Chinn and Kirtley. And I so remember finding a piece of key information on Ancestry for the first time. I was so totally hooked on internet research. It may not ever totally replace on site research, but it has enabled me to find online death certificates for a few states where family resided. And saved me a bundle of dough too!

As my genealogical database grew, so did my stack of paper. I started with one small two drawer cabinet. I outgrew that years ago. It later years, I took to scanning important stuff like birth, marriage, death certificates, discharge papers, obituaries, so that someday I could chuck all the paper. I don't really think that will ever happen, but I can hope.

So this passing hobby has turned into an obsession to get that next piece of information. And the next. I think the dust bunnies are busy multiplying.


  1. Can we have a copy of the transcriptions of the interviews? Jim will be really glad you did that. He was mad at me for not having taped them.