July 23 begins a week long celebration of the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania and all that it has meant for economic development in that great state. The United States of America is at a particular, and critical crossroads: The television ticker tape at the bottom of more than one screen, yesterday, stated these new facts–
- “Oil doesn’t know which way to go.”
- “The state of Alaska has issued a license to Trans Canada to access natural gas and oil within the state.”
If these really are facts, READ only the United States is lost. Other countries are no longer debating what to do–they are doing what is necessary to supply their needs.
We are a free nation. With free people who elect, and in a perfect world, direct what our elected officials do. Free people don’t wait for “the government” to act–they act for themselves, under their own sovereign powers, to meet their needs and the needs of their neighbors.
What does this citizen responsibility have to do with your genealogy?
New volunteer genealogy sites are appearing on the internet faster than we can track them. Some older sites are floundering for want of volunteer help. And I am the first to admit that for a long time I was too busy and too involved with my own research commitments to consider the needs of my genealogy neighbors.
This Genealogy News Sheet and my Virginia Genealogy Blog are just the beginning of my desire to share what I know works with you, my gentle readers. My speculation goes no farther than an occasional “…what if?” when I know or at least suspect with cause that a strategy or a source could be the answer if applied to a broader question.
In the next months, I plan to launch an additional blog or two on research areas or a special focus within my experience and knowledge.
You can trust the genealogy records to provide answers.
Now don’t misunderstand me. Records are made by humans who can err. And life happens–so records may be lost, misplaced, miscataloged, used for firewood.
In most instances, however, there are enough recordings of the same event or same date or same family and person for comparison. And it is in the comparison that the correct answers lie.
Too often, there is no comparison.
When you rely on one witness, or one record, or search for one person in isolation from the family setting and the historical background in which the record or the witness or the person exists…
When you let the one library you depend upon to supply your source needs…
When you search the same websites each week…
When no new data has been added to the website or the library shelf for a whole year or longer…
When you ignore the historical setting in which the records are created…
When government policy or personal values prohibit full disclosure…
The ANSWER(s) will be risky at best.
Break your losing streak! Volunteer to help index, or abstract, or transcribe, or provide understanding. You will learn in the process. You will be able to see where the errors most often are. And you can share the errors that you have discovered yourself. You will be in a position to help change our research environment for the benefit of all of us.
The research environment is not free–a truth that we all know and often overlook. Someone must contribute and do the diligence. Let that someone be you (and me). Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle http://www.arleneeakle.com
PS In July 2003, the Illinois State Archives announced that all out-of-state residents must pay a prepaid and nonrefundable fee of $10.00 for all research requests. This fee would cover postage, and response including 2 unofficial non-certified copies. Requests dropped considerably.
PPS There is also a substantial percentage of genealogists who believe that genealogy should and must be free. If you really believe this–volunteer!