Tracing Ancestors is Getting Easier

Jeannette Holland Austin
2 min readApr 7, 2022

I do not mean to suggest that it is easier to find the ancestors. Every genealogist spends years searching the old records, trying to find answers.

I became interested in 1960. Compared to today, research was more tedious. There were few indexes to biographies or sketches. I do not know what was going on during the 1930s, but (genealogy) authors did not publish an index in the back of the book. Also, there was no index for census records. One had to scan each county page-by-page, writing down every possibility. In some records, I had to return again and again, so I adopted the habit of copying the entire census for particular counties and collecting as much data as I could for eventual processing.

Ladders. The Georgia State Archives was located in an old home on Peachtree Road. One made use of ladders to climb up and find books, but a rather heavy dust was also added to the equation.

Microfilm readers were old-fashioned and did not present a clear image. The general cost of traveling about, attending libraries and archives around the country, make photocopies, etc. was set at about $10,000 per year. Today, when one can go online and search a genealogy site for under $200 a year, that seems like a real bargain!

There is yet much work to be done here, at a greater cost than ever. For one who has worked at it for more than 50 years, I can tell you that we still do not have all possible records online. I started out with and ended up with 8 websites about genealogy. Eventually, I merged all of the States represented (Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia) into one unique site under one password. As the site continues its growth, I am happy, although not content. I want “all possible records” available to everyone.

Jeannette Holland Austin

Author of 100+ genealogy books. Owner of 8 genealogy websites available by subscription.