I’ve had a lovely long weekend at my parents and had the opportunity to catch up with lots of family I haven’t seen in a long time, including sisters, nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles. A topic of frequent conversation was tracing the family tree because my sister and several other family members have been working on ours for many years.
It is amazing the information available to trace your family back generations, including their livelihood and the the exact house they lived in. Of course this information is available through official records, but the interesting part is often the personal story found through photographs and letters. So what is the equivalent today? For me it is emails, digital photographs and perhaps this blog.
Initially digital seems like a great step forward for the preservation of records, but how many emails from family and close friends are deleted as we are now overloaded with emails and photographs rarely get printed so remain on the computer which is so easy to clear by mistake.
In one way, I’m offering a lot to anyone wanting to trace my life as I’ve kept journal on and off since I was eleven. They will be able to get a good understanding of my school days, a fair understanding of my university days and a poor understanding of my working life because I have written less frequently over the last few years. So perhaps it isn’t that great a record after all.
Of course we don’t know what the future will hold, digital storage could be in a completely different format meaning everything currently stored on computers or on the web becomes obsolete as has happened with other technologies such as cassette tapes. Or perhaps sites like Facebook will be the future for tracing a family tree and 100 years after the creation of the account they will be opened for public searching as the census is now.