Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer of Genealogy Wishes - Databases Should Be Online, Not In Quarterly

Another Monday brings another wish in my Summer of Genealogy Wishes series. In between posts from guest bloggers, this week I bring you one of my wishes for the genealogy community. If you missed the opening wish, make sure to go back and read what Thomas MacEntee wrote about his wishes for genealogy societies. Also check out last week's guest wish by Karen Rhodes about a genealogy Ph.D.

I wish that societies knew what was worth printing and what should but put on their websites.
Last week I receive my copy of the Indiana Genealogist, the Indiana Genealogical Society's quarterly. I love the articles about doing research in Indiana, but I can not figure out why genealogy societies continue to print databases instead of publishing them as searchable databases on their websites.

The Indiana Genealogist for June 2010 is 50 pages long. Over half of the quarterly is comprised of two indexes. The Indiana Genealogical Society has online members only databases on their website. Is the quarterly really the best format to release these new databases?

Now I'm not just picking on Indiana today. Many societies still release their transcriptions in print. If it was online, I would be able to search it easily. I would be able to keep track of all the databases with an online list. It wouldn't take up space on my shelf. I wouldn't have to track down which issue had which database I wanted to search.

Maybe the problem is about filling space. If no one submits any articles to the society, then the editor must fill the space with something. But if it is that hard to fill the space, maybe you can cut down on how often the publication goes to print.


  1. Tina, I'm with you 100% on this wish. It can be so aggravating to try to remember where and when a particular database was published! How wonderful it would be to have them published online where they could be easily accessed and used.
    My local society (Elgin Genealogical Society been putting all our projects online for about 10 years now. We feel it is our way of giving back to the genealogical community.

  2. One stumbling block to many societies, especially the smaller ones, is that mounting a database on a website is no easy task. The database platform has to be designed properly, it has to be designed neatly and clearly. That is not easy for some societies which may not have any members well-enough versed in creating online database platforms, and which do not have the funds to hire a professional. Yes, it sure would help a lot of us to have this information available online, but I can see why a lot of it is still in print.

  3. I was going to say the exact same thing Karen did. It's a lot easier (and less costly) for many folks to type up the information (or create a spreadsheet) and print it, as opposed to putting it online. Plus, selling such print indexes is the only source of income some societies have.

    My small state university pays over half a million dollars a year for the databases we provide for our students and faculty. Databases are not cheap.

  4. Thanks for your comments ladies. I agree that getting databases online and maintaining them can be expensive. But I also don't agree with wasting the paper when publication costs continue to rise on a quarterly full of transcriptions that many only be helpful to a small percentage of your audience. Even just posting it online as an html file that is searchable through Google within your site would be preferable to me.