Burnside Bridge at Antietam. Digital photo by Trey Poore

Gathering births, deaths, burials and dates is the basic stuff of family history. But in order to tell the stories of our ancestors during the Civil War or any other period we have to make connections, find patterns and make comparisons.

Digital technology is not only making both tasks easier it is providing a new way to tell our families’ Civil War history.

When I was in college, high tech usually meant using the microfilm or microfiche readers to look at old newspapers and other records. Computers took up entire rooms and were used mainly to compile and analyze statistics. Using the computers required a lot of time at a machine that punched holes in cards, today’s bits and bytes, to input data.

Clearly technology has changed. This blog and the Poore Boys In Gray ebook are just two examples of digital tools that allow us to research and tell family history. Here are some other ways you can use technology to tell your Civil War family history in new ways:

  • Global Positioning System (GPS) and map making. Read about how the members of the Newton County, Mississippi, Historical and Genealogical Society used this space-based satellite navigation system to locate and map Sherman’s 1864 march through their county. Many families, including mine, were impacted by Sherman’s raid.
  • Online interactive maps. Draw a time slider across the base of Georgia maps and watch Sherman’s army move across the landscape. An array of map pins, or points, also appears. These points mark spots of significance, and the idea is that you can toggle between the maps, and see how different people remembered or wrote about different places or events.
  • Digital cemetery. A digital camera with a computer and photo program make it easier to accurately record and share tombstone information.
  • Video story. If you have a little talent with multimedia presentations, turn one of your Civil War family history stories into a video.

Do you have a technology tip that would help others tell their Civil War family history in a new way?

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