Whether you’re someone who makes a living from family history or an independent researcher, it’s hard not to feel that the Coronavirus lockdown has put the brakes on research progress temporarily. And whilst health is always the priority, we can’t help but miss the libraries, archives and society meetings that form part of our everyday lives as genealogists.
As we look towards the rest of 2020 and what the coming months might bring, here are five reasons to celebrate family history in lockdown and what it’s meant to us.
1 Family history as a welcome distraction
With so many of us spending many more hours than usual at home, family history has been a welcome distraction. Thanks to modern technology there have been so many ways to research, whether that’s interviewing relatives on a Zoom call, exploring those online records you’ve been meaning to mine for clues, or finally getting around to backing up your precious research and organising old photos.
There’s nothing like going down the rabbit hole of research to while away the hours…
2 Organisations reaching out to genealogists
Another benefit of our enforced home-time has been seeing the way that genealogy organisations large and small have reached out to researchers and found creative ways to share their content online. Many of us have enjoyed the free access to records at The UK National Archives and there have been (and hopefully will continue to be) free of charge record releases and privileged access for set periods of time to material you’d normally have to pay to enjoy.
Of course, most of the digital records that we enjoy are available thanks to the hard work of volunteer transcribers who have often put in years of work to make collections available to us. Hopefully the trial periods at online repositories will convert into paid-for subscriptions to help support these organisations.
3 The joy of the family history community
Most of us are used to popping into our local archive, library or family history society research centre whenever we get the chance and so lockdown has been a challenge from this perspective. But even in these times, the family history community has come together, with family history society meetings held virtually, conferences and events brought online and regular meet-ups that are such a lifeline (such as #AncestryHour every Tuesday at 7pm) proving more valuable than ever.
4 Hope that your DNA match might finally reply!
If you’ve been waiting to hear from that DNA match who might hold a vital clue to bust through that brick wall, or hoping that a distant cousin will reply to your request for family information, the fact that people have more time on their hands might actually work in your favour.
5 Looking ahead to enjoying our family history facilities like never before
That old saying you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone could be the lockdown motto – we look forward to the day when we can return to our favourite family history facilities and meet up with family and friends.
So here’s to all the many people who give their time so generously to make our family history community what it is. On behalf of all of us, thank you.
Get involved with Family Tree’s #StoryOfOurStreet local history challenge – the project you can join from anywhere in the world! Find out more here.