In our daily working life at FWL, we are constantly trying to find people. Some of them try really hard to hide from us – moving from one country to another, changing their name and/or being flexible with the truth on documentation. Over the course of the past few months, we have tracked beneficiaries and family connections to pastures new and away from the usual colonial destinations of Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada to far flung places such as The Gambia and Belize, as well as many European countries.
The internet and social media channels make searching for people much quicker than it was in yesteryear. Twenty years ago, it would have taken us months to do what we do now at the touch of a button. In my early days of genealogical research, the only way to find an ancestor in a census was to manually search each page of a census schedule on a microfilm! I remember trying to locate William Day and family in 1851 in Cheshunt. That is no small town, I can tell you. It took about three hours and now, I can just put his name and birth year into Ancestry/FindmyPast and up pops the record I am looking for…. If only we knew back then what the future would look like for genealogists.
Now, there are far more ethical dilemmas in professional research than there ever was before due to the volume and depth of information available to us. I will be taking part in a panel discussion on this topic at RootsTech, entitled ‘Dealing with Ethical Dilemmas in an Online World‘. Do we have the right to burst open secrets that we come across? …. I am looking forward to working with my good friends, Jill Ball (@geniaus) and Pauleen Cass (@cassmob) again, having last ‘stepped out together’ on an Unlock The Past cruise in early 2014.
Where in the world would we be without electronic devices? Can you imagine trying to function without a mobile phone which has internet functionality, a tablet, a laptop…. there was a time when these things did not exist! Hard to recall what it was like, even for someone who swore they would NEVER own a mobile phone! Oh, how times have changed – she says, after booking the appointment to have the mobile phone surgically removed from her right hand…