Family history moves into technology age

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    By Emily Andersen

    The computer has become a part of our everyday lives, and now it is becoming a part of the everyday lives of the dead too.

    BYU is helping to make the dead come alive through their Fifth Annual Computerized Genealogy Conference.

    The computer has impacted the United States, with more than half of all households in the United States having access to the Internet, the Office of the Press Secretary of the United States said. This impact has hit the world of genealogy, and computers are now an important resource for genealogical research.

    Family history enthusiasts came to BYU this week, March 11-15, to learn how to harness the power of this ever-increasing technology to do research about their ancestors at the Computerized Genealogy Conference.

    The event is sponsored by BYU”s Division of Continuing Education, Alumni Association and the Family History Center.

    “There is a developing world of electronic media for genealogy research,” said Alan Mann, coordinator of this conference.

    Mann said BYU decided to do a conference of this kind because people were asking for more. BYU holds an annual genealogy conference in August, with a range of computer classes, but participants wanted more classes so they formed a separate conference.

    Jill Crandall, an accredited genealogist and a member of the board of directors for the Utah Genealogical Society, said the power and usefulness of computers is a positive benefit to genealogical research.

    Crandall said she began her genealogy research twenty years ago with just a typewriter, but she now carries a laptop with her wherever her research takes her.

    “We finally have the resources to sort out all of our information and to track data that is so easy for our minds to forget,” Crandall said. “We now also have the capacity to record all of our source information accurately.”

    Paul F. Smart, Outreach Manager for the Family and Church History Department at BYU said computers are becoming essential to genealogical research.

    “Anybody that teaches genealogy that doesn”t teach the Internet as a source is behind the times,” Smart said. “Computer resources are becoming more readily available all the time. People will miss out if they don”t avail themselves of computer databases.”

    Smart said this years conference will help people to learn the newest information concerning genealogy research on the computer.

    “This conference will help keep people current with the Internet and other computer resources,” Smart said. “This conference will help people find or become more aware of computer resources available from the Church.”

    Mann says this conference is geared for genealogists in the beginning to intermediate stage of learning. Participants will learn how to use sources that they probably wouldn”t have thought of using otherwise, Mann said.

    Karen Farrah, from Lynnwood, Washington is a participant in this years conference. She has been working on her genealogy research for the past three years. Farrah said she loves to do genealogy research, especially on the computer.

    “The computer is very important,” Farrah said. “I can do my genealogy research anytime.”

    Farrah said she works during the day and so she can”t travel to Family History Libraries and Center to do research. She loves the fact that she can do her research in the evening by using the computer.

    Crandall said her advice to beginners of genealogical research on the computer is to start by compiling all of their information and entering it into the computer program they are using. Once they have compiled all of their information, they can then look at discrepancies in their information and begin their research from that point.

    Crandall said her three favorite genealogy websites are Ancestry, Cyndi”s List, and US GenWeb.

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