05 November 2012

Genealogy: The Next Generation

What will genealogy look like in 2063? That is the question I am posing today, and I'm curious to see what responses I will get.

CER-10, Digital Computer, ca. 1963
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CER-10
In 1963, the idea of advanced technology looked very different than it does in reality. When they looked fifty years ahead, could they have imagined that we would be researching with tools such as Google Books, online records sources, digital cameras, and personal computers small enough to fit not just in one room, but in our laps?

With new tech and abilities hitting the market at an alarming rate now, what will genealogy look like in twenty or fifty years? Will everything be online? Will we be having the equivalent of webinar's instructing researchers how to walk into a courthouse and request records?  Will it even be necessary to do on site research, or will it all be available to us via some sort of mass media source? How will people be dealt with after death in the future? Will cemeteries still exist, or will society turn to something else?

The bigger question; will it, the research, even be necessary? Will there be a day when genealogy is just... done? Will we ever have all the answers?

(Personally, I don't think so, at least not in our lifetime, but its an interesting question to ask.)

What do you see for the future, the next generation of genealogy? 


  1. I may be very wrong, but I believe research will always be necessary. On site research will be less and less necessary, but never completely gone.

    And genealogy will never be done. I just have to believe that, it's too much fun!

  2. The digital world is making it easier to find and share family histories. I believe studying the growing number of individual family experiences will cause historians, especially Southern historians, to revise the story of Americans. The more family history research I do, the more I find that doesn't fit the Grand Narratives created by historians of the last half century.

  3. History can always be researched again, from another angle, and the same may be true of genealogy. I've read somewhere that an infinite number of theories can be formed to explain any given set of data. Having all the "facts" may not tell the whole truth about people's lives, by any means.

    I worry more about how we will preserve the history. On paper in a physical location, digitally in a physical location, in smaller and smaller files until they are microscopic . . . and can we change easily from one storage mode to another? Converting audiotapes to DVDs today is not always easy. In other words, will our research be lost before we can transfer it? We can only make our best guesses!

    1. I see this as the "never ending question". It's already the future from when I wrote this. But, yes, I agree that the preservation and storage techniques are extremely important to keep on top of. This is something I have discussed with several folks, both in and out of the genealogy world, and its one that we all need to consider carefully when storing our research and our heirlooms. It would certainly be devastating to look back in 50 years from now and find useless thumb drives, full of stories, and be unable to access it.
      Wish for the best, and keep up with the trends... that's all we can really do! ~ Jen


Please comment! I would love to hear your thoughts!