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
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
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.”