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Seasons

Internet Moves an Old Subject, Genealogy, into Computer Age

Genealogical research that formerly took weeks now can be done in a fraction of that time on the Internet, at a fraction of the cost.

Computers have created a revolution in the way family ancestry research is done, according to Ken Macomber, a computer specialist in genealogical software and records management.

“Family historians can now access online digital images of historical records that previously would have taken weeks and additional costs to travel to the record depositories,” said Macomber.

The speed and ease with which genealogists access such records will only increase, he said at this summer’s 38th annual Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research. New software soon will allow researchers to collaborate online, he added.

Macomber led a session that looked at the newest approach to studying an old subject. Genealogy came into vogue more than a century ago, around the time of the nation’s 1876 centennial, as people sought to trace their roots to the Mayflower or the American Revolution.

But genealogy today is no longer the exclusive domain of New England bluebloods or old Southern families. People from all types of backgrounds are involved, not just those who want to know who qualifies for lineage societies such as the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Samford’s annual genealogy institute long has been recognized as one of the best for serious family researchers. This year’s weeklong program drew 221 enrollees from 29 states.

The curriculum is broken into eight broad courses ranging from basic and intermediate techniques to such specifics as evidence analysis, understanding land records, Irish genealogy and others.

While digital databases and genealogical software programs have improved the speed and accuracy with which genealogists work, Macomber noted that the quality of research ultimately depends on the researcher.

“A fool with a tool is still a fool,” he cautioned. “Genealogists still need to spend time analyzing data before recording it in their data base.”

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Maintained by University Relations. Last updated: December 11, 2002

Summer 2002
Vol. 19, No. 2

Seasons Staff

William Nunnelley
Editor
Mary Wimberley
Associate Editor
Sean Flynt
Contributing Writer
Janica York
Publications Manager
Scott Camp
Graphic Designer
Donna Fitch
Web Designer & Editor
Caroline Baird Summers
Photographer

Samford University Alumni Association Officers 2002-03

Bennie Bumpers '63
Sonya Bumpers '63
Co-Presidents

Tom Armstrong '73
Vice President

Brooke Dill Stewart '95
Secretary


Seasons is published quarterly by Samford University, 800 Lakeshore Drive, Birmingham, Alabama 35229, and is distributed free to all alumni of the University, as well as to other friends. Samford University is an Equal Opportunity Institution and welcomes applications for employment and educational programs from all individuals regardless of race, color, age, sex, disability or national or ethnic origin.