Yes, microfilms have been the storage media of much of the material genealogists, especially more-seasoned researchers, have been tapping into for years.
However, more and more of “new” genealogical researchers may have never had the privilege to tap into these powerful storage reels. Rather, they immediately and only go to tap into digital online data. If only they could realize how potentially limiting that behavior is to thwart their own research efforts!
Online digital access is the way it is done today because it is simply there to access in that manner. But everything you may need is not included in these large-scale online digital depositories.
But as you can see the title of Dick’s post “The Death of Microfilm” is one that genealogical researchers cannot turn a deaf ear to.
I wanted to give you a direct link to Dick’s post in my post because I think the well-written and lengthy article should be reviewed by all genealogists, whether or not you have ever utilized a microfilm to advance your genealogical research.
You can see Dick Eastman’s “The Death of Microfilm” article here:
The article that is accessible via the above link should be a “Must Read”.
It is not only microfilms that are on a steep-slope of decline. It is also all the surrounding technology, manufacturing and the like that supports microfilming that will disappear in the future. No one is making microfilm cameras. Microfilm readers are not being made. The film itself is not even being manufactured anymore!
Any institution utilizing the microfilming industry has been in a long transition to eliminate that storage media within their organization and transition to the new digital age where images are online on gigantic servers and either available for free or via subscription services. I don’t think that trend is going to change which can be looked as a great thing for genealogical researchers. The data you seek to look through can now be discovered and viewed in milliseconds instead of in hours of hand cranking a microfilm reader.
Microfilm data will still be around for some time to come. But we all know the inevitable end result.
So next time you are researching your ancestors on that microfilm reader at a local family history center thank your stars that the equipment is still working. Because when those break down and are not fixable because no replacement parts exist, we will all be in a world of hurt!
Know what the road ahead looks like for microfilms and all the supporting industry components surrounding the production of a microfilm. Read Dick’s article. It is well worth the time to be informed on this topic that has been so instrumental to the research for many of us.
Schaumburg Township District Library