When I was a teenager, I had a great interest in “all things” related to the US Civil War. My grandaunt, my father’s aunt, was a librarian and genealogist. She recognized my interest in history and got me interested in my family history. I have a number of books that she wrote about our family history.
My grandaunt had traced our family to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. This is quite an accomplishment. It is even more so, when you realize that this was done in the 1960s and 1970′s. This was before: ancestry.com, Family Tree Maker, the internet and even the PC. She had to do this “old-school” by performing tasks such as: visiting cemeteries, county court houses, visiting “regional libraries” to read the Federal census from microfiche and writing for copies of records. She had to hand-write genealogy sheets and type with a good old-fashioned typewriter all of her Family trees and other information. I know of 3 books/manuscripts that she published this way.
After High School, my interest was dormant until the late 1990′s. After my grandaunt had a stroke, my dad and uncle decided to pick up her work. It also turns out, that several 2nd and 3rd cousins in the family did as well. She has since passed away.
It wasn’t long before I was helping my dad and we were hot on the trail of some family history. I had a copy of Family Tree Maker and a box of CD’s containing published historical records. Shortly thereafter, I discovered ancestry.com, rootsweb, GEDCOM, ged2html, Soundex converters and a host of other tools to aid in genealogy research.
Just a decade later and these tools have grown an order of magnitude in capability. However, that is a topic for another time.