Sunday, June 12, 2011

Take Another Look

With each successive addition of yet another genealogy toy on the internet, The Search becomes easier. However, “easier” sometimes makes me forget how things used to be.

A while back, I was talking with our Chicago aunt about looking into her own family line. This aunt and I are “outlaws,” but that doesn’t keep me from wanting to research her line. I love doing the research, and her line presents me with a challenge.

I didn’t think, at first, that it would be a challenge. While she was one of those people I mentioned before who was raised by someone other than her own biological parents, she still knew the names of both those absent family members. What’s more, the names were not very common, a plus for what I thought might be an easy search.

Wrong. Those names were uncommon enough to yield me zero results.

I had set the project on the back burner and worked on other things—many other things—over the last several years since that conversation.

But a thought tickling the back of my mind got me cooking on that project once again last week.

The thought: my new genealogy toys may prove to be better resources. And they were. Pulling up those old names, I ran them through search engines at my latest playground: Ancestry.com.

While searching on Ancestry can sometimes be a frustrating process—it seems overly cumbersome at some times and outright dense at others—this time, things worked wonderfully. I found a few items on census records. Better yet, Ancestry’s matching program allowed me to find someone else researching basically the same family and share that data.

I took the hints I found on that other family tree at Ancestry and looked further. Switching tracks, I went to a beta site done by the group behind the familysearch.org website. The virtue of this site is ease in searching plus access to scanned documents. From this one site, I was able to copy birth and marriage certificates for a number of people in that family.

Cutting and editing the documents to zero in on the specific family members of interest, I saved them as JPEGs and attached them to an email, sending them to our Chicago family for verification.

And presto! The electronic response provided instant confirmation. While some people prefer the “hunt” of hide-and-seek, in my opinion, toys that make connections like that are so worth a place in my genealogy playground. In my game, I appreciate finding answers.

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