From "Accessing the Genealogical Literature: Problems Facing Historians and Genealogists" The American Genealogist 72 (1997):387-398.
Presently, there is little genealogical scholarship adrift on the “information highway” known as the Internet. Many genealogists are mounting their ancestries on homepages on the World Wide Web without footnoting sources, and forcing the browser to email them asking whence the information came. However, this medium is fairly new and the researcher should be aware of its potential for information about primary resources and contact with fellow researchers.
Just before this article was to be published, Thomas Jay Kemp, head of special collections at the University of South Florida, Tampa, published Virtual Roots: A Guide to Genealogy and Local History on the World Wide Web (Wilmington Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1997), an exhaustive listing of relevant web sites for genealogical research. Hence, my own comments here will be brief.
The most comprehensive site thus far is maintained by Cyndi Howell at (http://www.oz.net/~cyndihow/sites.htm). With links to over 20,000 web sites, it should be every genealogist’s starting place for Internet research. Another website with promise is the USGENWEB Project at (http://www.usgenweb.com/index.html) which is trying to produce a webpage for each U.S. county with genealogical information. Thus far 2,200 of the 3,100 counties are represented. Since each page is maintained by volunteers, there is wide variety in the type and quality of the information given. One site that does display scholarship is a Mayflower Homepage maintained by Caleb Johnson (http://users.aol.com/calebj/mayflower.html) which has original full-text Mayflower documents available (the Mayflower Compact, Winslow’s writings, Morton’s writings, various wills, etc.). Of course there is an abundance of good scholarship on the Mayflower families in print, but it is nice to have to some available electronically as well.
Other sites of interest are :
- Horus’ Web Links to History Resources on the Web (http://www.ucr.edu/h-gig/horuslinks.html) from the University of California, Riverside, History Department.
- HYTELNET (http://library.usask.ca/hytelnet/) the most comprehensive index of searchable online library catalogues worldwide.
- Library of Congress (http://marvel.loc.gov/)
- OCLC (http://www.oclc.org)
- RLIN (http://www.rlg.org)
- Chadwyck-Healey (http://www.chadwyck.com)
I wrote that article. I posted this for several reasons. I make more disparaging than effusive remarks about Internet genealogy. This week in a series of posts I will examine both my viewpoints and the reality of research on the Internet. Readers new to this blog have not read all my postings from the last three years (yes, it's been that long) and are getting a distorted picture of how I view the Internet.
I'm also posting this to prove my bona fides. I think I can safely say without fear of successful contradiction that I was talking about Internet genealogy before ANY blogger, and indeed was the first to write about the Internet as a burgeoning source for genealogy [in a scholarly journal]. Indeed, that article most likely predates most genealogists' start dates for their research. So I have been studying this phenomenon for a long, long, long, time.
I'm sorry I present a contrarian view to things. Most, if not all but for me, of genealogical bloggers are the most excited, happy, helpful and wonderful people out there. In my opinion, that sometimes comes off as the Stepford Genealogists. Ancestry Good. Foootnote Good. Genealogy Good. There has to be more than one-dimension to this whole thing, right?