The Advance of Research Habits over Recent Decades — And the Downside

Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG
Aug 18, 2020
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About BCG
4m 52s
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Speaker's Introduction
1m 12s
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18m 59s
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Late 20th Century Developments
2m 31s
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Written Standards
2m 04s
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Facsimile Images
4m 13s
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6m 43s
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Questions / answers
16m 32s

About this webinar

The Internet, other technological advances, indexing projects, and DNA testing have revolutionized how genealogists conduct research. Have they also have promoted counterproductive research habits?

About the speaker

About the speaker

Tom Jones is an award-winning genealogical researcher, writer, editor, and educator. He co-edited the National Genealogical Society Quarterly in 2003 through 2018, and he is the author of the textbooks Mastering Genealogical Proof
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  1. Legacy Family Tree
    4 years ago

    Absolutely EXCELLENT!!! Thank you very much.

    After working on my family tree for the first time – as a result of being locked down – you covered so many of the issues and concerns that I’ve had with the process, particularly the integrity of information. I’ve learned to suspect the information on many public family trees, which has been confirmed by more in-depth research on the particular items of information on many of these trees.

    Always a fantastic speaker!

    Always a pleasure to hear from Tom Jones!

    Always enjoy hearing Mr. Jones’ comments and research projects.

    Always enjoy hearing Tom’s wisdom

    Always happy to learn new things. Thanks

    An admirable overview of nearly four decades of genealogy research evolution, plus a much-needed voicing and perspective that solid research evidence and skills remain the same. Thank you!

    An excellent webinar!

    Any instruction from Tom Jones is time well spent.

    As a relative newcomer, I appreciated viewing the larger context/history & how it has changed. I thought the suggestions at the end were good. I would appreciate “pop-up” tutorials being offered as I was doing research, similar to the “if you found a tax record, also look for the deed”. Something like “the role of land records in understanding your ancestor”. Another idea – if BCG could do a series of tutorials for relative newcomers.

    As always, Tom’s presentation was thoroughly prepared and interesting.

    As always, very interesting.

    As an old ‘dog’ it was interesting to be reminded of the old tricks of days gone by and know that the measure of the finished product has not changed.

    As Geoff said, I also enjoyed the “trip down memory lane.” Thanks, Tom! I think I will get Jacobus off the shelf and read him again.

    Awesome. Thought-provoking, and a great learning experience.

    clear commentary on the evolution of the field since the 70’s

    clear concise presentation that had relevance. Would like to see a webinar on raising the profile of family history Societies

    Covered all the methods I used through the years



    excellent infor on how and why to do research

    Excellent information

    Excellent material

    Excellent organization and presentation.

    Excellent ppresentsation4mn

    Excellent presentation

    Excellent presentation!

    Excellent presentation. I also enjoyed the walk down memory lane.

    Excellent thanks!

    excellnent,well-organized presentation. Love the history of genealogy. Great chat also – thanks geoff.

    Found it informative and brought back memories of my early years in genealogy research. Appreciated the overview that helps us appreciate what we have now.

    Good info, logically organized and thoughtfully presented. New ideas–always my litmus test for a good webinar.

    good info. thanks

    Good information.

    Good overview for beginners and low-intermediate genealogists, but not a lot of new ideas for more experienced researchers. However, all of his points are ones that need to be emphasized and practiced more widely.

    Good suggestions to do genealogy with standards and evidence as well as have some fun with it.

    Good things to remember

    Good to be reminded of the past – and elps keep today in perspective

  2. Legacy Family Tree
    4 years ago

    Great and timely presentation!

    Great blast from the past and way to show how standards have not changed.

    Great info, thanks.

    Great practical and historical information

    Great presentation of how Genealogy has evolved over the past 30 years.

    Great reminders of what can be added and avoided to make up better researchers.

    Great tripping down memory lane.

    Great webinar as we walked through the advancement of genealogy research.

    Great webinar. I wish that all amateur genealogist could watch this webinar.


    How can you say enough good things about Tom Jones? He is the Master Genealogist today! Brilliant webinar full of great ideas and suggestions we can use ourselves and teach to those coming behind us. Thank you!

    I bow down to my Guru and am not worthy.

    I enjoyed the review of early genealogy information sources. I appreciated the review of what it takes to undertake “hard” genealogical research. The talk was a good overview of the current state of genealogical research.

    I enjoyed the trip down memory lane.

    I found it very informative.

    I have one of his books. He’s a very good writer.

    I liked that he didn’t just read to us what we could see on our screens but explained what we might have a question about.

    I look forward to his next webinar on this topic.

    I love the monthly BCG webinars. I wish I could, but don’t see getting certified in my future . I find the guidance from the BCG webinars extremely valuable. Covid has allowed me to view them live as our society meeting is on the 3rd Tuesday and I’m traveling to meeting at that time.

    I really enjoyed the historical perspective of genealogy research. Thank you. This was very good.

    I really enjoyed the trip down memory lane — the way things used to be. We’ve sure come a long way.

    I share many of Tom’s concerns about casual ‘researchers’ who accept whatever they find online without verifying it with evidence.

    informative and nice trip down memory lane



    Interesting and thought provoking presentation. Excellent.

    Interesting as always. I appreciate the fact that Mr. Jones, while he was talking about problems also gave us a few solutions and provided me with some things to think about. The idea that seeing a land value in the census report means that there should also be a deed will be helpful. I wonder what other hints like that I am missing by being unaware.

    Interesting information and thoughts about differences in research over time.

    Interesting remembering how it was when I first started. I still have a file cabinet full of those early handwritten notes … love computers, trust paper.

    interesting review of the past

  3. Legacy Family Tree
    4 years ago

    interesting stroll down memory lane along with reflection and analysis of the pros/cons of developments in the field

    interesting to see changes in research styles.

    It was 1) A great trip down memory land, and 2) An appropriate emphasis on proper research and corroboration of data.

    It was a fabulous walk down memory lane with a corresponding look to the future. I am frustrated by people who do not cite their sources but I guess I’ll just have to get used to it.

    it was a good seminar however it was not what i exspected

    It was a great trip down memory lane. And a chasm is a very good analogy for what separates the serious genealogist and the hobbyist.

    It was a great trip down memory lane. Thank you.

    It was a pleasure to listen to Tom Jones’ presentation. He is astute and explained his opinion during the Q&A at the end with aplomb. He obviously knows his stuff.

    It was humbling….

    It was interesting to hear Tom review all the practices of the 1970s and 1980s before the Internet and genealogical software. It brought back memories of traveling in a carpool to a branch of the National Archives while it was temporarily at the Military Ocean Terminal at Bayonne, NJ.

    It was interesting to see the comparisons of past and present methods of research. The suggestions were helpful.

    It was very interesting. It was fun to remember how we used to do genealogy. Tom Jones had a lot of good ideas. I made some resolutions on how I can improve my research.
    it’s always a pleasure to listen to Tom. I learn something valuable at each of his presentations

    I’ve heard Tom Jones speak before. There wasn’t a lot in his presentation I haven’t heard before. I guess there is a lot I “should” be doing in my genealogical research and recording that I don’t do… but I do it for fun and doing all the documenting of sources makes it less fun and more drudgery.

    Like the historical factor

    Lots of food for thought. Always love Tom Jones.

    Lots of good reminders and suggestions.

    Love Tom Jones.

    loved the history (going down memory lane) – how technology has allowed genealogist to become more isolated (we communicate less)

    Minor adjustment to Tom’s comment: there IS crowd sourcing going on, in the form of the FamilySearch Wiki.

    Most informational

    much to think about

    must must must record my sources

    Not all the info is online, I wish people would stop saying this.

    One of the key concepts for me was the emphasis on “best practices” for researching and developing our genealogies. I also enjoyed learining the history and progress of the field

    Really enjoyed the historical perspective of the growth of genealogical research in the US. When I started genealogy, I did not know anything about source citation. My best help came from some webinars given by Geoff. Ras. . I enjoy genealogy and have no way to travel about for records so I am grateful for any kind of information I can find online, I would not dismiss it as fairy tales. Some of it may be relevant/true. The fun part for me is working out the truth. Thanks for this webinar. I enjoyed i
    really interesting how we used to work and the good and bad now

    Seemed only an half hour long. Better then anything on TV

    Should be required watching for all newbie/wannabe genealogists!

    Should be required watching for every newcomer to genealogy AND reviewed periodically by all others practicing genealogy, even professionals! Thank you.

    Since I started doing genealogy in 1968, I could relate to Tom’s talk. It was probably more exciting to find the information when we had to work harder for it and travel to find a lot of it. Proof is so important.

    Since I’ve lived through all these “seasons” there was nothing new here.

    So very interesting. A cut above!

    Spot on from a seasoned veteran

    standards of yesteryear still apply to today’s research. You can’t skip the proof methods.

    Terrific information! Great presentation!

    Thank you for answering my question. I found the “trip” down memory lane fun, but looking back now at all the hand written pages of “family units” is going to have even more meaning to me now. I love being known as the family genealogist, but I would love to share it with more of my younger family members!!

    Thank you Tom Jones! next time just email Jeff Foxworthy – I’m sure he can come up with a zinger! I loved yours too.

    Thank you, thought provoking.

    Thanks, Tom. I always learn something new from you.

    The beginning was kind of slow. It became more interesting towards the end.

  4. Legacy Family Tree
    4 years ago

    The best of the best.

    The development of genealogical activities described during the webinar is difficult to relate to the situation in Poland – we are in a very early stage of digitizing, creating accessible databases and appreciating the history hidden in family trees. Under the slogan “personal data protection”, barriers and limitations to the availability of historical records are created

    The history was excellent

    The look back was especially interesting.

    The presentation really reinforced the rigor of doing good research, and the challenge presented by the ease of access to so many materials online today.

    This has been very, very, helpful to my own work: this was an encouraging talk.

    This was most informative and while it was US based I was able to relate most topics to UK & European research – the chasm topic is something that should be available to all family researchers.

    This was my first webinar and I was a little overwhelmed. This is something I need to address. Thank you for this informative webinar.

    Thomas Jones is always excellent.

    thoroughly enjoyed the presentation and learned some new stuff. I inherited my mother’s side of the family from my sister’s late mother-in-law and now I understand all the envelopes of documentation she had accumulated.

    Thoughtful webinar.

    Tom always delivers a well thought out presentation, and it was delightful not to be taking notes this time but, instead, revisiting those early research years! He brought out a number of nuances in describing the down side of modern research that had not occurred to me.

    Tom always has excellent food for thought!

    Tom is a wonderful presenter.

    Tom is so thorough and his suggestions are always in the best interest of EVERY researcher.

    Tom Jones always amazes me with his insight and knowledge. Thank you, Tom!

    Tom Jones always does an outstanding job! Loved the topic.

    Tom Jones always good

    Tom Jones had so many practical reminders on how to keep proper records and the importance of making your work as accurate as possible.

    Tom Jones is a fabulous teacher. He sure gave us some things to think about tonight.

    Tom Jones is a wonderful speaker and writer. I have read his books and find him exceptionally brilliant. His work has helped and guided me to a much better understanding of what it takes to become a certified genealogist.

    Tom Jones is always a pleasure to listen to.

    Tom Jones is always an excellent speaker, and he certainly covered our research habits over many decades. I learned a lot about the changes that have happened over the years, and I agree with his reasons for the changes we are seeing, especially now. Thank you.

    Tom Jones is always full of meaningful information! Thanks Tons!

    Tom Jones is always great, no matter what he does! An excellent speaker with very useful information.

    Tom Jones is very knowledgeable, clear, and thorough.I wasn’t sure I would listen to the whole thing but I did and the after questions as well. Very well done. I learned so much about the field of genealogy as a whole, which was interesting. I learned that what I am doing is correct. But I also learned that I best share more of my research, my family tree, and communicate more with others.

    Tom’s class is always one I walk away from knowing more than when he started. Great job, Tom!

    Tom’s points are well taken. I find that I violate some of them as a beginning researcher and plan to mend my ways. It was very timely for me. Thanks for presenting the webinar.

    True walk down memory lane! Loved it! Was hoping to and had started to pursue certification by taking classes in 1991. But then my husband’s cancer returned with a vengeance and all plans had to be cancelled.

    Very good note and speaker

    very interesting

    Very interesting and a great perspective to keep in mind while undertaking research and writing.

    Very interesting and historically valuable.

    very interesting and timely in today’s environment

    Very interesting!

    Very interesting! A trip down memory lane!

    Very interesting! Thank you

    Very pleasant vice, well organized, knowledgeable

    well organized and lays out the issues of today’s research

    Well presented. A lot of good information

    wonderful historical overview

    Wonderful, thank you Tom Jones!

    Wow, this was so interesting! Thank you.


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