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                 DECEMBER, 2009

      Charles Hansen, Editor

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  My Last Article of the Decade
  — by Charles Hansen

       I was reading an article in Family Tree Magazine on the changes in genealogy over the last decade, so here is my last article of the decade. Probably the biggest letdown for everyone was the Y2K scare that the world of computers would end when we turned from 1999 to 2000, but except for a lot of programs that quit working after New Years Day of 2000, there was no real meltdown of the internet or any other major problems because of Y2K. For us on Prodigy, the old classic Prodigy based on a DOS browser and bulletin boards, that died as Prodigy could not reprogram it in time and even if they did it was very old technology, so the new Prodigy Internet was rolled out and many of the old bulletin boards migrated from Prodigy Classic to Prodigy Internet, but the busiest bulletin board from Prodigy Classic, the genealogy bulletin board did not migrate. We were lucky to get helped out by the crafts bulletin board and so continued on until Prodigy Internet closed the bulletin boards.

       In the 1990s census indexes appeared on CDs, and they were great, now you could look up someone on the CD, and head for the library or Family History Center and know the exact page to look up your ancestor. Problem is they copied the same old indexes with all their errors from the printed Census Index Books, so not a real step forward. The best part was instead of buying a $85.00 census index book, you could buy a $19.95 CD, so that pretty well ended the census index books. Soon you could also get a CD with census images, or go online on the internet and find the census images, so you did not even have to go to the library to view the census. April 1, 2002 the 1930 census was released, and there was a mad dash to see who could index and put images online the quickest. I had downloaded the boundaries of the enumeration districts for Spokane and had made a map of each enumeration district, so the day the census microfilm was in our library, I found my mom and her parents as the first entry in their enumeration district. Soon Ancestry had the index online and they also sold CDs of that index.

       Probably the biggest change over the decade for genealogists is the internet. In the year 2000 there were few databases online, there were a lot of indexes coming online, and websites by genealogists contained few sources so most seasoned genealogists thought they were just junk genealogies. I know a lot of the personal websites were run by what I call number collectors, really only interested in how many names they could collect, without regard to sources or even privacy of living people, so those types of websites turned off a lot of genealogists. After the 1930 census went online, a lot more raw data started to show up on the internet, and that continues to today. What was the last book you bought for genealogy? So much is going online few people buy books anymore.

       Another big change for genealogists is what looks like the end of microfilm, in the year 2000 you could still buy genealogy microfilm from a lot of companies, the LDS still had teams of missionaries all over the world filming records, and libraries had drawer after drawer of genealogy microfilm, and newspaper microfilm. Do you have a microfilm reader at home? Today the LDS has changed from microfilming records to scanning those records. The LDS is also in the process of scanning the microfilms they have to put online on the internet. Since they have so many rolls of microfilm stored in Granite Mountain the LDS figured it would take many years to scan all that microfilm, but they are running well ahead of their estimated time to finish. With the help of volunteers from all over the world those scanned images are being indexed at a rapid pace.

       A lot of people try to write about what changes will come in the next decade, but I have never been good at predicting anything in the future, so I guess we will just have to wait and see what the next decade will bring.

     The last real change here, was the death of the editor of this newsletter, Carol Sanderson, and her knowledge on writing and genealogy was a big loss for all of us.

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