Or "Rednecks, Golden Gate Genealogy Forum & Clam Chowder"
by Uncle Hiram
REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION
Probably the biggest and most successful genealogy forum on the Internet is the Golden Gate Genealogy Forum on AOL. For those of you that are either not on AOL or if you are you haven't checked out the GGGF let me tell you a little about it. It has four hosted chat rooms that are dedicated to genealogy. They have scheduled chats for dozens of different specialized areas ranging from Jewish Genealogy to the War Between the States. If you are on AOL I strongly suggest you checkout Keyword: ROOTS.
During the recent GenTech 2001 conference I interviewed George Ferguson, the main man of the Golden Gate Genealogy Forum. Without further ado lets go to the interview.
Unk: How big is your staff?
GF: The forum staff is 135 people.
Unk: How long have you been doing genealogy?
GF: Almost all my life, I started when I was fourteen years old.
Unk: How long has the Forum been on AOL and how did that come about?
GF: The Forum actually predates AOL. It began back when we were Beta testing AppleLink. Eventually AppleLink evolved into AOL and the Forum grew with it.
Unk: Do you ever feel like there is no end to this?
GF: Yes, there is always something more to do. The way we do it (at Golden Gate) is people helping people and I hope there is not an end to that.
Unk: Where do you get most of your motivation to do this?
GF: From the staff, the volunteers who work the forum. They are always coming up with something new and exciting. You are a prime example of that.
(Note: I started out as a host in the Golden Gate Genealogy Forum and working with the forum newsletter.)
Unk: How has the computer changed the hobby?
GF: The computer was made for the hobby. Today the ease you can make changes in your research is phenomenal, no more searching through paper records to find the facts in your file. The computer has completely revolutionized the whole thing.
Unk: Do you ever regret getting involved to the degree you have?
GF: Never, its been a great trip. Being able to help thousands maybe millions find their ancestors brings a tremendous amount of gratification.
Unk: Do you ever feel like just walking away?
GF: No, about three times a year I go to conferences like this one to recharge.
Unk: How do you feel about the purchase of Rootsweb by Ancestry.com?
GF: The sharing of money by Ancestry.com is one of the reasons things like Rootsweb will be able to continue. In the long run its good for genealogy.
Unk: What do you think is the single most helpful thing you have done for the amateur genealogist?
GF: The creation of the forum. Taking the opportunity on AOL to work with good people in the genealogy community to create the forum.
Unk: What do you see as the future availability of records? Paid vs. Free?
GF: Paid is a foregone conclusion. To get the good stuff someone has to invest money in making it available. The release of the census on CD is one of the biggest events in the last ten years. For a very small fee you can look at photo images of the actual documents in your home.
Unk: Do you wish there was or do you know of a genealogy herb besides beef jerky?
GF: (Laughing) There is always fried clams.
I hope this interview has given you some insight into the mind of George Ferguson, one of the movers and shakers of our hobby. I found him to be a very nice, if somewhat a shy person. I will give him credit for being open minded (GRIN); I talked him into trying a very Texican dish ---- Tortilla Soup.
- Adios and Keep Smiling!
- Bill Hocutt (Uncle Hiram)