S451: Pamela Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA, and Rick Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA, “Then and Now: Changes in Methodologies and Sources,” reviewed by Malissa Ruffner, J.D., CG.

Poodle skirt and saddle shoes? Leisure suit and medallion? Pam and Rick Sayre’s delightful luncheon entertainment was a humorous reflection on genealogical research then and now—with a message.

Our ability to wait has grown rusty. Our abstracting and microfilm-turning muscles are withering. Our tolerance for mold has declined. Some acronyms, such as SASE, are out, while others, such as DNA, are in. And DNA is a double-edged sword: you might gain a new half-cousin, but lose your Indian-princess great-great-grandmother.

If you think Rick and Pam want to return to life before Google Earth, think again. Online access (at 3:00 a.m. in your jammies!) brings immediate gratification and the ability to study whole series of records for context. Basic truths haven’t changed. Indexes still point to underlying archival documents. There is no substitute for reading instructional and introductory fine print. Evidence Explained may be a presence on Facebook, but its author won’t write your citations for you.

The new standards manual is smaller, but don’t be fooled. The standards have not been lowered. Unlike saddle shoes and leisure suits, doing things the “right way” will never go out of style.


CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by Board-certified genealogists after periodic competency evaluation, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.