Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Friday, March 20, 2020

Will Family History Survive Social Distancing?

With the closure of universities, Family History Centers, archives, and other repositories, and not to forget the impact of social distancing, as genealogists, some of us are wondering how we do our work? Of course, we can do a lot online, but some of us were mainly involved in helping other genealogists. I guess my question is do these genealogists who need help realize that we can still provide direct, individual help online?

There are presently a number of free programs that allow one-on-one or group video and audio support capabilities. Some of the programs you can use for these video calls include the following:

  • Zoom
  • Skype
  • Google Hangouts Meet
  • Free Conference Call
  • Microsoft Teams

The more I look online, the more options I find.

Here is the concept. You are sitting at your computer frustrated because you need help. Normally, you would go to your local Family History Center for help. You live somewhere that is encouraging (or ordering) people to remain in their homes. What do you do? You call one of these people who would normally help you and get online with one of these meeting programs and work through the problems.

What are the difficulties? You need a fairly robust and fast network connection. You need the technical expertise to connect and share your screen. You need to realize that you can get help to connect and help to answer genealogical questions.

In my situation, I have been "on-call" at the BYU Family History Library in  Provo, Utah now for many years. It is common for me to receive a call and have someone at the Library who needs help. Sometimes I can answer the questions on the telephone but many times, I get in my car and a few minutes later I am in the Library helping someone with a problem. I can do the same thing online and all of you out there who normally help people in a Library or Family History Center can also do the same thing.

Let's get to work helping people during this social distancing time in our lives.

If you need help: Call me. Text me. Contact me through Facebook. Send me an email. Make a comment on one of my blogs. Write me a letter. Whatever. I will just keep working and writing otherwise. If I don't know the answer, I will try to send you to someone who does.


  1. Thank you James for all you do. Stay safe.

  2. Thank you for your generosity. Maybe more people who have not been doing research online will join the online community now. There could be a silver lining here.