October 30, 2009

Ah, the Good Ole Days!

When I started researching my genealogy it was sporadic, with years of non-genealogy in between spurts of frantic searching. But then I began researching in earnest in the days I refer to as B.I. (Before the Internet)

I was thinking about it this week. Do you remember B.I.? Before Windows. Before Cyndis List. Before Ancestry.com. Before this wonderful cyber world we know now.

I worked on my computer in DOS (remember, this was also B.W. - Before Windows), and joined a few BBS (Bulletin Board Services). I had to dial long distance from my home to the nearest big city to pick up the BBS.

It cost me a fortune in long-distance charges so I would dial in, download the BBS "mail" and log off. Then I'd read the messages offline, respond offline and dial in again to upload (post) my responses. There was a 4 to 5 day lag time between sending my messages and seeing responses.

Hard to imagine, but we still managed to get our genealogy research done! Snail mail was important, I would pore over queries in all the genealogy newsletters I received. Then I'd write to anyone who seemed to be looking for the same ancestors I was! I waited in anticipation day after day, anxious to see what the next day's mail would bring.

I look back on that as a very satisfying genealogy experience, there was something quite wonderful about the feeling you got when that huge package of material arrived in the mail from another researcher.

I miss that. Now I research online. Don't get me wrong, I love the convenience of online research. I love the speed of finding ancestors online compared to snail mail and going out to libraries and archives.

But it's kind of like buying from E-Bay instead of going out to the antique store or junk store or flea market and experiencing that "aha!" moment when you spot a treasure buried under a pile of junk... There's a great deal of satisfaction in slogging through reel after reel of microfilm - unindexed microfilm - and finally spotting your ancestor's name!

Now when I get a package in the mail (which is infrequent as most items are scanned and sent via email), it is for material I already know is coming. I'm not complaining, it's all good and it's genealogy information I want and need BUT I don't have that same sense of wonderment or anticipation as I did back in the days of B.I.

I love the Internet. I would never want to return to B.I. But I would love to have the awe and excitement of snail mail anticipation back again. So my goal for 2010 is to find a way to rediscover the thrill of the hunt and I welcome any suggestions from readers on how to do this. Yes I want it all! I want the convenience and speed of online genealogy plus the thrill and anticipation of the good ole B.I. days.

3 comments:

Joan said...

I live in a rural mountain setting, so I would drive down to the mail box and when I would receive a package of genealogy papers I could hardly contain myself. Sitting in the car, the window still down, and sometimes the mailbox door still ajar, I would tear into the package. What a delight to remember.

Now my special delight is tracking down different lines of my family. I am a master of the "cold call" --- some times it's a "relative" and sometimes just a nice person with the same name. What fun.

ancestry com said...

Question is what will come next after B I

Ruby Coleman said...

It was a slower life and slower genealogy .... but I loved it! I would go to the mailbox in anticipation of receiving at least one genealogy letter or better yet, a packet of "goodies." Comparing it to today's world of genealogy, it's somewhat the same, but faster today. I still open my mailbox in anticipation of genealogy news, attachments of genealogy files and links to further my research. Ruby Coleman