Column: Sometimes Everything is Too Much

Between today and Wednesday, my genealogy column, Roots to the Past, is available in the following Atlantic Canada newspapers:

Saturday: The Citizen (Amherst)

Saturday: Times & Transcript (Moncton)

Wednesday: The Lunenburg County Progress Bulletin (Lunenburg County)

Title: Sometimes Everything is Too Much

Snippet: Digital databases have made searching with a keyword to find genealogy information easier and faster. Index cards of the past were helpful, and they certainly gave us an easier route to finding material than looking through shelves of books and drawers of files. But it can’t hold a candle to search engines.

That said, there are drawbacks to using search engines. The first is what I’ll call missing peripheral information. When I am browsing a census or vital record or scanning newspapers for obituaries, sometimes information I wasn’t looking for is found. Two families living next to one another in a census record or two death records entered one after the other can add details otherwise missed if I had used a search engine.

Peripheral information may have been eventually found, but sometimes it can’t be discovered any other way than by browsing. This is the reason I still browse record. Browsing is more important if the records are community-based.

The second drawback to search engines is their exactness. Many—but not all—search engines find only the words entered. That means if I spelt my surname Tibert, I wouldn’t find alternate spellings: Typert, Tipert.

. . . To read more, pick up one of the above noted newspapers.

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