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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Holdovers and anachronisms

Once upon a time, a long time ago, genealogists used printed forms for pedigree charts and family group records. Because of inherent limitations of those forms, they were forced to use abbreviations and other such conventions to accommodate the tiny spaces where you could write. For that reason alone, not out of any desire to communicate adequately, but merely to fit the form, they (we) had entries that looked something like this

Wm. W. WINDER
Birth: 6/25/1895
Place: Phx, Mrcp, Az, U.S.

And so forth. But all that went away? Didn't it? Now we have lovely computers and we can have entries that look like this:

William Wordsworth Winder
Birth: 25 June 1895
Place: Phoenix, Maricopa, Arizona, United States

See! No space limitations, no abreviations, no misunderstanding the date or place. But wait, why am I still seeing family group records and pedigree charts with these abbreviations? Where are the genealogy police when I really need them? Recognizing this problem, every single one of the main stream commercial genealogy programs has a date preference and place editor. In addition, the computer program keeps track of the name you designate as the surname so you don't have to put it in all capital letters anymore. But, do you think that my generation of researchers is going to bow down to those new fangled computer programs and computers and change our ways? Not on your life. We know what is right and what is wrong and we are not about to change what we know to be correct. Capital letters rule! Abbreviations save keystrokes and they also conserve natural resources and electricity, so we are positively self-righteous in our use of these old conventions.

What can be more conservative than an old-school genealogist? I don't have an answer for that question.

1 comment:

  1. Since I am retired now, after working 42 years, I think we are in the same age group. I only started my research ab out five years ago and I could not live without the computer and all its accouterments for my research.

    I can not imagine waiting for weeks for an answer or browsing through reels of microfilm.

    ReplyDelete