Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Day

Today in United States we celebrate Thanksgiving Day. A good time to reflect about the blessings we receive every day and the important things we have in our life (friends and family) that sometimes we take for granted.

But this is a blog dedicated to Genealogy, therefore let’s be thankful for the easy-life we have these days as genealogists.

I do a lot of genealogic research in Galicia, so I will pick my example from there. Let’s say that during our research we find a document that refers to a place name in Pontevedra, with that information we go the Xunta web page and can find the list of all the towns in Galicia (nomenclátor). With that information we can go to Google Maps and find out a satellite picture of the village and we obtain an initial geographic context. We share the information we have about the researched lineage on the forum (Galician Genealogy discussions) and another researcher point us a connection with a lineage in the Basque region.

With that information we research the online information on the Mormon website ( and online catalogue of the Alava Provincial archive. That is how we identify the documents we need and we post a message on the GenealHispana (Hispanic Genealogy mailing list) asking for the name and contact information for a professional genealogist in the region. That genealogist will search at the local archive for the documents we requested. He scans the document and e-mails back an electronic copy.

We enter the information in our genealogy software and the application alerts us about a repeated name. That is how we realize that the new link added to the family tree shares a common ancestor with the person we are researching.

In 48 days hours we have added a new link to a family tree (with two connections) and documented it accordingly. Granted it is just an example for an ideal situation and these days we spend a lot of time on archives dealing with old papers, but it is useful to compare against the amount of work and effort our predecessors genealogists in past centuries (or even 20 years ago) would have to do to obtain similar results. It would take them months or may be years to do the same we just did in 48 hours.

So today I am thankful for the technology we have today that facilitates our genealogic research work. We have to express our respect and recognition for the genealogist that painfully did research in the past.