For those of you who already followers of Paul Chiddicks on Twitter @chiddicktree you know about some of the great blogs, he has written. I recently read one of his older posts from September 29, 2017, titled "What does the future hold?" It really got me thinking about how genealogy has changed so much in just the past few decades. Paul brought up some interesting questions in the post that really made me think about how genealogy has changed these past few decades and where the future of genealogy is heading.
The popularity of genealogy shows such as Who Do You Think You Are?, Finding Your Roots, Genealogy Roadshow, Long Lost Family, and Relative Race have had a significant impact on creating curiosity among present generations of all ages to discovering their family history. I feel like the growth of interest in learning about their family history has changed genealogy in several ways. From what I have witnessed, the growth of the genealogy community has grown so much. Even in just the past decade. People, no matter their age, are able to connect with others who have a similar goal of discovering their ancestors. Social media has helped to build a genealogy community all around the world. Though chats and post we are able to connect pretty much at all hours of the day with someone that shares interest and loves talking about genealogy topics. Freeing up our family members who like to roll their eyes whenever we bring up the subject.
What does the future hold for genealogists? I feel like the role of genealogist has changed some. Prior to today's technology, it was difficult to know exactly where to find specific information and it was difficult to travel many times to try and find the information you were looking for. Genealogists and town historians were really the only ones who could get you the information you were looking for. With the internet, the increase of digitized record databases growing, and the capability to travel easier, pre- Covid Pandemic, individuals curious about their family history can do the research themselves for a good amount of information about their ancestor. I feel while genealogists will continue to fulfill the role of researcher, they have evolved into the role of teachers now. Many genealogists are sought out by today's genealogy community to teach methodology classes to help those with an interest in discovering themselves how to find the information they are looking for and to help pull their family history story together. Therefore while the need to hire a genealogist might be declining in the role of researcher it has increased in the role of teachers and authors.
With the increase of people learning about their family history, I feel like family stories are going to last a lot longer. As people invest in discovering their family history and share it with their family it is more likely to be passed down through the generations. I think this is a great thing for our ancestors because their stories will continue to live on. Family stories, photos, and copies of documents are being passed around among descendants, which means that there is less of a chance that their ancestors' stories will be forgotten. When there was only one original photo, of say a 3rd great-grandparent, and it has been digitalized to share with others there is a greater opportunity that if something happened to the original photo that it won't be lost forever. The growth of genealogy even as a hobby has ensured that the stories of our history will continue on.
I do not see that family history research will ever end. With technological and scientific advancements we have already seen how historical lessons that were once taught changed when historians and scientists gain new knowledge and insight due to newer evidence learned and uncovered. History lessons will never be set in stone because there is always a chance of new discoveries and it will change the stories. DNA has changed families' stories just by scientifically showing genealogists how a bloodline can tell a different story from what was passed down in books and through oral family stories. DNA has brought uncovered family secrets out of the closet that they thought would never be uncovered.
Original records definitely need to be protected and continued to be accessible to researchers. In transcriptions, there are at times mistakes and for those that have been digitized, the digital copies are sometimes difficult to read. Therefore I think archives will always be needed to be open to researchers. Repositories give people an opportunity to physically experience the physical documentation of history. I personally feel that there is no way to replace the feelings you feel when you see your ancestor's handwriting in front of you. We need repositories because they help to preserve our history and they will forever be needed to protect it.
It would be great if everything could be shared in the future online. That would take so many years to digitize everything if it is possible. I would be really surprised if it happened in my lifetime. There are always new pieces of history found therefore I do not know if everything will ever truly be shared online. I know a few people who are unwilling to share personal historical items with other family members. Those items will most likely never be shared. Hopefully, at least someone received the items upon the death of that person and those pieces of history do not make it into the landfills. Sharing allows for our history stories to continue on.
I am hearing less and less about people having old-fashioned family reunions. Even before the current pandemic, we are in. I think a lot of the reason for this is social media has taken the place of needing to have family reunions anymore. Many people find it easier to keep up with family through social media. Back while I was growing up the only time we really got to see family was during the yearly family reunion. It use to be that families would use their family vacation time to go to family reunions. Now with the ability to travel so easily, people are opting to go on vacations to destinations for relaxation and exploring instead of going to see family. The advancement of technology has played a role in families getting together. The recent ability to connect virtually has also made family get together possible without even walking out your front door.
I would love to hear who else may have similar or completely different views on the future of genealogy.