07 July 2014

Sounds and experiences missed by genealogists as our world changes ...

It’s the Monday after a holiday and many of us are a bit challenged to return to work (whether our jobs or our genealogy addiction)! So, let’s just have some fun today.

When I read 5 Nostalgic Sounds of the Technology Many People Miss, it made me wonder what are the “sounds and/or experiences of genealogy” that many people miss?  I think this was reinforced by two finds this weekend in my attic (which we are cleaning out) – the remnants of an enlarger that my dad and I used to use to develop our own photos and film canisters that I subsequently used as storage containers for small items like pins.

So much has changed since many of us started researching our ancestors!  Ignoring some feeble research attempts in high school (typed on onion skin paper!), my real addiction started in 1987 and boy has our world changed a lot since then.

There is a lot of technology that we now use where we couldn’t use what didn’t exist back in the day.

With that in mind, I started a list of some bits of nostalgia – some of it’s nostalgic sounds and others are just how we used to do things that are quickly becoming passé (if not already obsolete). 

  •   Typing (yes on a typewriter) letters to far off archives (sometimes just to the next state over)
  •     Centralized wall-mounted phone ringing as you waited for a call back from an archive or clerk or potential cousin?
  •   No answering machines and that continuous ringing to tell you that no-one was going to answer
  •   Hiring a translator or using a print edition of a foreign language dictionary (vs using Google Translate et al)
  •   Tearing a stamp off of a block of them, licking them (no self-stick) and putting them on envelopes
  •   The puzzled look of a postal clerk when you asked for an IRC (International Reply Coupon)
  •   Photo film-based cameras – the sound of popping the film canister (and the smell of fresh film), loading the film in the camera, shooting your photos, getting to some place to develop your film (which often took a week or more), and then finally getting your pictures and negatives to find out you took some horrible photos!
  •   Driving to the LDS to order microfilm, waiting for a postcard (or similar notification that it had arrived) and going back to visit again – taking handwritten notes (no cameras, no laptops, netbooks, no copy machines, nada!)
  •   Sending a money order for a purchase (no credit cards accepted, no paypal)
  •   Using tape recorders with actual buttons (and their distinctive sounds) for stop/pause, forward, fast forward, reverse, etc
  •   and so much more ...

What would you add to the list?

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