07 June 2013

Are you a Genealogist, a Family Historian or What?

A recent post by James Tanner (Genealogy’s Star) was titled Is genealogy now politically incorrect? One comment to the original post directs readers to a proposal at Wikipedia to merge the genealogy and family history pages.  There were also several response blog posts written, one of which is  Genealogists are not being pushed out, Reinforcements arebeing invited in (by A Patient Genealogist).  As always, don't just read the main blog post.  Do read the comments!

This really hit home with me.  As someone who writes blog posts for NGS and who wants to be “inclusive” to all researchers, I struggle with this as I write my blog posts. If I just use the term genealogy is that viewed as "too narrow?" If I use the term family history are those who identify with genealogy “turned off?” Yet, can one really keep saying genealogy and family history or genealogists and family historians throughout a written piece? Too much of a mouth full ...

Is this a tempest in a teapot?  Are the two terms truly distinct? Is the term genealogy now not PC? Is the use of the term family history preferable? If they are distinct, how are they distinct?  Should “another” term be used?

Do I need to use “both” terms to ensure “all” readers will read a post? What is a blogger to do?

What are your thoughts?

Editor’s Note: this is not a “new” topic of discussion.  As is the case with genealogists and family historians, we often “revisit” things ...

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  1. The Ancestor Hunt also did a broader post where this and two other "prejudices" are discussed, http://www.theancestorhunt.com/1/post/2013/06/genealogy-prejudice-rears-its-ugly-head.html

  2. When I talk with friends, family, and strangers who are not into Genealogy, I sometimes use Family History instead of Genealogy. They seem to be more open to discussing "family history" than "wasting time doing Genealogy." I have more useful conversations with these groups when using Family History as they appear interesting in sharing family stories upon which I can ask follow up questions which provide the details I need for my Genealogy. I am searching for a comparable analogy. I enjoy Astronomy and Amateur Astronomers are looked at favorably by the Scientific Community for the research help they can provide. Even so called "Amateur Astronomers' have contributed to the the Science of Astronomy. However, when working with the lay public who have limited knowledge of Astronomy, I have discovered a smular approach by calling public programs "Star Watching or Star Gazing." Yet many "Professional Astronomer." would not call what they do "Star Gazing" many of them do research that never involves going out side or looking through a glass lens telescope. Genealogy is boring people looking at strange trees and spending time with dead people and dusty old records. Family History is engaging in family folk lore and showing an interest in a person's personal story. We Genealogist however find the rich background that enliven's these people's stories. Use what you need and do worry too much about it.