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Top Ten Genealogy News Stories and Genealogy Themes of 2008


We have searched through the Genealogy In Time™ News Archive to highlight what we consider to be the Top Ten Genealogy News Stories and Genealogy Themes of 2008. Genetic testing dominated this year, as evidenced by five out of our ten top stories. Clearly, genetic testing will continue to be a major force for change in the field of genealogy for the foreseeable future.

Below is Genealogy In Time™’s top picks (in reverse order) for 2008:

10. Genealogy Goes Green – One of the hottest trends in 2008 was the movement towards an eco-friendly lifestyle. Now, this trend extends even into the field of genealogy. The news story Cemetery Goes Green attests to the fact that even a cemetery can be eco-friendly.

9. Government Census May Become a Thing of the Past – A census is an official counting of a country’s population. It typically contains a wealth of vital statistics that can be valuable to genealogists. Unfortunately for the government, a census is difficult, complex and expensive to complete. As well, the information collected in a census is often out of date even before all records have been processed. Read in the news story UK Considers Scrapping the Census how the UK government is considering using a real time database to collect vital statistics instead of relying on a traditional census.

8. There are Limits to How Many Historic Records Can be Put On the Internet – As any genealogist knows, only a fraction of all historic records have been digitized and put on the internet. Fortunately, more records are being added daily. However, digitization can be a complex task and it appears not all historic records can be easily digitized, as demonstrated by the news story UK Digitization Program Suffers Indefinite Delay.

7. Genetic Maps can now be Overlaid on Geographic Maps – Genetic testing for genealogical purposes continues to make great strides at the academic level. As the news story Human Genes Used to Map European Ancestry demonstrates, genetic test results can now be overlaid on geographic maps to help determine a person’s ancestral home.

6. Reusing Old Graves – The recent real estate boom in many parts of the world has resulted in a shortage of traditional graveyard space in several countries. The UK has been particularly hard hit. Anyone with ancestors from England will want to read the news article From Double Decker Buses to Double Decker Graves to see how UK authorities are considering reusing old grave plots – ones that could be occupied by your ancestors.

5. Determining if People with the Same Family Name are Related – A person’s family name provides a tantalizing clue as to their origins. People with uncommon family names often wonder if they are related to other people with the same name. As discussed in the news story Are People with the Same Family Name Related, an academic study backed by genetic testing has shown the link between family names and family relationships.

4. Establishing the Original Settlers of Scotland and Ireland – Once again genetic testing – this time on house mice of all things – has led to the hypothesis that the Vikings may have been the original inhabitants of Scotland and Ireland. Read the news story Did the Vikings Settle Scotland and Ireland?.

3. Genetic Study Questions the Ancestry of an Entire Nation – A genetic study of Spain questions the origins of its people. This is the first time conclusive proof has been found that demonstrates the wholesale conversion of very large populations of Jews and Muslims to Catholicism during the Spanish Inquisition. See the news story Gene Study Questions Spain’s Ancestry.

2. Serious Doubts Raised About Home Genetic Ancestry Tests –Genetic authorities are raising serious concerns about home genetic ancestry tests, as described in the news article How Accurate are Genetic Ancestry Tests?. Various government regulators have also stepped into the debate to protect the consumer. Several jurisdictions now require home genetic ancestry tests to be licensed and regulated before such tests can be sold to consumers over the internet (see California Licensing Genetic Testing).

And the number one genealogy news story of the year….

1. The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same – It has often been said a culture is defined by its sense of humour. Anyone who has migrated to a new country or tried to learn a new language knows the most difficult part of any culture to understand and appreciate is its sense of humour. As the news story A Really Old Joke describes, what is amazing about humanity is how our basic sense of humour has remained fairly constant throughout the centuries and across all cultures. It is good to know that even in our modern society we share a common bond with our ancestors on something so fundamental to our humanity as our sense of humour.

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