The coming genealogical dark ages

With all the genealogical information being made accessible on the Internet, some might think this is the golden age of family history. To Curt B. Witcher, however, we may be entering a new dark age, where vital records and the memories of people alive today, are lost forever.

"At the same time we have more (technological) ability we are losing interest and focus on keeping the thoughts and the words for future generations," Witcher said.

Witcher, the manager of The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library, in Fort Wayne, Ind., was the plenary speaker at BYU's Conference on Family History and Genealogy on Wednesday.

"I believe we have a crisis is our midst," Witcher said. "We have left the care of our written records largely in the hands of disinterested strangers." He said these records include everything from birth records to tombstones — and more and more, they are disappearing.

Libraries are limiting hours and public access to materials. Courthouses are engaging in "radical sampling," where they take a few samples of large collections of old records and destroy the rest. "This is going on now," Witcher said.

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