Virtual Visit Before You Go on YouTube

Moon TubeI’ve got a confession to make. I don’t watch television. Okay, I do watch the occasional Corner Gas, Red Green and Rick Mercer show, but other than the half-hour comedies, there’s not much to draw me to spend time sitting in front of the boob tube. To fill in the entertainment void, I watch YouTube . It not only informs but teaches things I want to know.

YouTube is a huge website that allows everyone—amateurs as well as professionals—to upload and share their videos in the language of their choice. The website has grown tremendously since it began in February 2005. In fact, “48 hours of video are uploaded every minute, resulting in nearly 8 years of content uploaded every day.” That’s incredible.

A small portion of videos are silly, worthless and downright crazy. Some are simply ads to sell products. There’s a large segment however that provides insightful information and teaches viewers to learn everything from how to knit their first scarf to how to locate resources available for genealogy research.

Individuals are charging forward and helping genealogists in ways that were near impossible more than ten years ago. They’re visiting old homesteads, abandoned cemeteries and historical places, filming the trips and then sharing it with likeminded people. From the comfort of your own home, you may be able to tour the cemetery where your ancestors were buried or walk the same paths they did. This is possible because someone took the time to create a video and post it to YouTube.

Many organisations are also taking advantage of the free use of YouTube to promote themselves. Museums, archives and family research centres are getting the word out about their existence and providing researchers with details of their holdings. This is a tremendous help to researchers who are planning a genealogy vacation.

The easiest way to find a video about genealogy in the location you’re looking for is to enter specific keywords in the search bar. For example, you might enter ‘Canada’ and “Genealogy’ to see what’s available for all of Canada.

To narrow a search, enter the name of a province or a community. If a specific organisation is sought, enter that name. It’s okay if your searching technique is a little off; about a dozen other videos will be suggested in the right-hand margin that might also be of interest.

Anyone searching for information on ancestors who lived in Nova Scotia can start their tour on the YouTube channel Routes to Your Past . It contains thirty-three videos providing details on various places around the province, including Nova Scotia Archives, Memory Lane Heritage Village, Parkdale-Maplewood Community Museum, Black Loyalists Heritage Society as well as many other genealogy-related organisations.

Unfortunately there is no one place to search for genealogy videos for New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, and I didn’t find a video made specifically by their provincial archives. There are however videos by individual archives such as Charlotte County Archives & County Goal (NB) and Maritime History Archive (NL).

Videos that depict past reunions, ceremonies and re-enactments are also available and interesting to watch. Researchers sharing their genealogies through video may also help others with their family trees.

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