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Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Changes in genealogy and fear of change

In a recent conversation, I heard about a common problem. Surprisingly, this problem is not limited to older genealogists, but is a common challenge for many, young and old. It is the fear of change. The person in this conversation has a ten year plus, older computer running Windows 98. She is still using a dial-up modem and has all of her records in PAF. Many of her family members are more advanced in computers and constantly try to get her to buy a new computer. She lives on a very limited budget and cannot really afford the expense of adding a cable connection. But the real problem is not the cost, the real problem is breaking out of her comfort zone and trying some of the newer products.

In helping people with their research, I commonly get into situations where I get real hostility from someone who knows how to do the research and doesn't want me to tell them anything different. One lady, sitting across from me at a genealogy library, was in tears. It turned out she was looking for her grandmother's maiden name and was so frustrated she could no longer control her tears. When I offered to help, her reaction was surprising. She got huffy and mad at me for suggesting that there might be someplace she hadn't searched. After talking to her for fifteen or twenty minutes, I could see she did not want any of my suggestions on additional resources, even though it appeared that she didn't even know what sources she had already searched.

These stories happen almost daily. What can we do? Probably not much for some of the people caught in this trap, but it is important to realize that there is an every changing and increasing amount of primary information available every day on the Web and change is inevitable, we might as well enjoy the ride.

For example, Record Search Pilot has new records in the 1850 US Census, the 1870 US Census, and the 1900 US Census, just for one instance. Keep and open mind and you may just break through that wall stopping your research.

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