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30 Mar 2013

Is it true?

In theory we're all cousins, writes Peter Calver, on his site (which boasts an authoritative must-read newsletter, by the way). 
He says that you'll find find 3rd, 4th, and 5th cousins on his site.  Well, sir, I have to say that I already knew who all my 3rd-4th-5th cousins were before getting on the internet.  They are far from lost - I know all about them.  I would need to be given more tempting bait before carrying out the serious amount of work involved in creating a presence on another family history website.

On the second point that the relatives we're most interested in are those researching their tree.  I'd emphatically argue the contrary.  Thanks to Who Do You Think You Are, a lot of people have SOME interest in their family - and even more would do so if the death of a rich relative in their favour seemed possible.  It's up to you the researcher to worm out the information.  Researchers will always find each other.  What's needed is a tool to rapidly find the next-of-kin, the photograph-hoarders, the storytellers.  Many of whom are absolutely not researchers as they possess a completely different skillset.  I never learn anything from fellow researchers - but rather from the real people who inhabit the lives of their ancestors.  Who are still born in the house their grandfather built - who remember their grandfather getting a visitor from Australia in 1915.

One of my cousins runs a chippie in Swindon and I'd been looking for her for ages.  I finally tracked her down and my letter came through the door just while she was watching that great British programme Heirhunters.  Do you think she was 'actively researching her tree'?  And was she exactly the person I needed to contact?  By heck she was.

A final factors is that researchers are often keen to research, not to communictae.  Finding other researchers may not be their goal at all.  For myself I'd rather spend time online researching, or sleuthing virgin source.  Keying in data into researchers' match-making sites is way down the bottom of the list.  Let's wait and see what solutions technology can bring to the more basic puzzle of reuniting people with data that they want - Data Reunited?