Whether we appreciate the fact or not, we are all made of history. Even as we zip around in our modern, electronic world, the very cells in our body, our DNA, and our family connections make up a significant piece of who we are. And as Memorial Day gets closer again this year, more and more people are reaching back, sometimes far back, into their own histories to get a sense of where they and their families fit in the history of this tiny blue planet. And without the humble microfiche reader and its advances in digitizing important family history archives (so they’re available online) reaching back would be a lot harder.
Over the course of this past year of pandemic and lockdown, more people than ever have started using their computers to dive into family history records from home. This has been possible, in large part, because more libraries, archives and historical research institutes have been using new microfilm and microfiche readers to digitize important historical documents and records, making them available online for home researchers to explore and discover. According to a Wall Street Journal article, Ancestry.com reported a 38% increase in demand for online records over the past year alone, in a “free-time” pursuit that is second only to gardening as the most popular American hobby.
Family history buffs are making all kinds of discoveries as they enjoy the benefits of microfiche. From census records, military records and church registers that include essential dates and places, people have also been able to find stories, publications, letters and other documents that help people piece together the fantastic crazy quilt of family history that gives us all a better understanding of where we came from, and hopefully helps us decide where we want to go from here.
In addition to family history, our understanding of world history has also been shaped by records that have been put into microfilm and microfiche format. The first big push to archive records in this way happened as Europe burned during World War II, and historians realized that they needed to protect historical records from the destruction of war. Of course, microfilm and microfiche records also played a significant role in espionage during that war and in future wars, so these records are far from just basic historical documents—they’re the stuff of real-life spy adventure stories, some of which are still not available to the public (but might be available some day)! This archival of important historical records and documents from the past is a quest that continues around the world today. This critical effort to find, record and disseminate historical records can also connect with family history research. As more and more historical records come online from around the world, people from more and more ethnic and cultural backgrounds are finding answers they thought were buried too deep in the past to be found. It's a quest that never ends.
Libraries and archives would be wise to invest in archiving equipment that can ensure these records are protected and available for researchers and generations into the future. Learning from the past and doing better in the future depends on it. The ScanPro All-In-One microfiche reader is the top choice for research institutions, libraries, historical societies and archivists because it can protect and digitize a wide range of microfilm and microfiche formats. Protecting and distributing these documents continues to serve everyone from world historians to family historians and every researcher in between. Contact us today to learn more.