With the change in marriage certificates today for England and Wales bringing it in line with Scotland and NI, it marks another step forward in family history research.

In my last blog I spoke about how historians would look back and view the pandemic of the early 2020's, and yet today we are living through it and know the answers.  I wonder how family historians, will research their family history in 100 or 200 years’ time?

With the mothers name on the wedding certificate, it provides yet another piece of vital information that will enable people to compile their ancestry.  The other big change is the computerisation of the certificate at source.  We have had that now for many years with birth and death certificates.  We know ourselves; how much easier research has become due to computers and the internet.  We know that there have been significant initiatives that have helped us on our way such as the census, the civil registration of births, deaths, and marriages.  All these have made it easier to link the family branches together.

Going forward there will be no more difficulties reading handwriting, no more needing to send off for copies of certificates, no more people transcribing and indexing into valuable tools.  It will change and make it so much easier for anyone doing research.

The chances are though, that computers will do the searching for you in the not too distant future and will try to piece together family trees based on sophisticated algorithms and search criteria.  No more will we have to type in different spellings or wildcard characters to try and uncover a single item of truth.

The family historian of the future will find it easier to dig back to our current time, and potentially even back further now.

Will it though take out all the fun of the research, all the hard work and the ecstasy as you find a missing piece to your tree that opens up other great avenues of research?  Will that real satisfaction of achievement be gone when a computer does all the work for you.  This will undoubtedly be true.  However, it’s not just the doing and sense of excitement of doing it, but there is a real joy in uncovering and understanding what life was like for our family in years gone by.  A real connection with people of the past as you relate to their emotions as you uncover happiness and periods of great sadness in their lives.

It is great filling in the tree but this connection with the past is the greatest thrill of all.

The work we do now uncovering and contributing to this historical picture will enable generations to come to do likewise.  The paths and evidence we plot today are opening the historical knowledge for our ancestors of tomorrow.

So while we tread our own journeys, let us not forget, we are doing so for others yet to be born.  As digitalisation of the paper trail continues, so our enlightenment and connection with the future, just as much as the past, is forged in a new way.