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.