05 March 2015

Genealogy + Elitism Does NOT Benefit Anyone!

Continuing the thread on conferences ... The Chart Chick (Janet Hovorka) wrote An Open Letter to the Genealogy Community last month.  She mentions several comments that she heard over and over again which suggested that newbies and casual wanderers were not really welcome (my words and not hers).  Read the post to see exactly what she said.

She does go on to say ... “Were these people actually rejecting a crowd of 22,000 people who showed up to find out about what we do?”

The comments posted in response to her post are another MUST READ!  They provide some great insights and thoughts about the role of conferences, organizations and more to our genealogical community!

We are a community and a like any community we range in age from the young to the less young and from those who have no idea about this passion called genealogy to those who have been pursuing their ancestors for more decades than some of us can imagine!  None of us transformed from a newbie to an experienced genealogist without the assistance of many along our journey!  I have been helped by untold legions of genealogists, archivists/librarians, clerks, distant cousins and others over the last almost 30 years ... You cannot fully pull together the puzzle of your ancestry on your own.

And, no matter how experienced we are, can we know it all?  Can we possibly be an expert in everything?  I don’t think so!  So, though I may know NC research pretty intimately (and even then there is much that I keep learning), there is so much more about family history research around the country and world that I don’t know and that I will never know! 

I also find that answering questions from those enthusiastic to learn provides me great lessons – sometimes it’s been so long since I “started” my quest that I’m rusty on guiding novices on their journey or it’s been a while since I’ve thought about a particular group of records or research strategy.  I always say, that I think my brain buffer is full and so each new thought that enters my brain pushes another thought out.  Unfortunately, I don’t have control over what gets pushed out.  Interacting with others “reminds” me of some of those long-ago pushed out thoughts and that’s a good thing.

This means that there is ALWAYS something that I will learn or be reminded of at every talk (or conference) I attend.  I will also forget much of what I am exposed to though after attending a few conferences, you often at least know who or what organization to ask!

Let’s be all embracing of ALL who attend talks and conferences.  They just make for a much richer experience and eventually all of those who think they are interested or just don’t even know yet what family history research is all about are the cornerstones of the perpetuation of our passion for generations to come.  We will NOT be here to carry the torch forward ... it will be those whom we’ve welcomed and helped become “addicted” to genealogy who will ...

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