Monthly Archives: December 2011

Are Bloggers Leading the Genealogy Community?

Balanced Over the Bay

I’ve been quietly reading a few very thought-provoking blog posts by Michael Hait (The Genealogy Paradigm Shift: Are Bloggers the New “Experts”?) and Marian Pierre-Louis (Are Bloggers Really the New Experts? Part 1 & 2) and figured it was time to put my two opinionated cents into the conversation.

Is the Genealogy Community Changing?  Absolutely.  There is no doubt.  The change is already happening.  There will be growing pains.  BUT we can lessen the growing pains if everyone decides to embrace each other.

It means that the “traditional crowd” decides to dip their toes into the technology waters while also mentoring the tech community on how to get down and dirty in a courthouse basement to find the record.

It means that the “tech crowd” has to kindly help the more traditional crowd get their feet wet in the technology waters while also being willing to get down and dirty in the dusty stacks of undigitized records in an old courthouse.

Why?  Because both groups have the same goal and both groups have something valuable to offer the other.  In my mind, the genealogy community will thrive when it learns to walk the balance beam of using technology tools to go out into courthouses, archives, and other repositories to make genealogy discoveries.  Finding the balance isn’t always easy, but it is worth it.

But Are Bloggers Experts?

Sometimes.  There are definitely some blogger in the community that are undoubtedly experts in genealogy, technology, or both.  There are also some new people who are still learning.  There are some people who don’t have formal training but are definitely knowledgeable.  The community is so wide spread, so varied, and I don’t view that as a bad thing.  We can always learn something from a blog – even if it is just an example of how not to do something.

One thing is for sure: We are an opinionated group and we know how to make our voices heard.  If we love something, we will do everything in our powers to be the best cheerleaders possible.  If we dislike something… well, we’ll speak loudly on that topic too.  We have no problem being honest with what we think or believe.

But Does That Mean Bloggers are Leading the Genealogy Community?

In the sense of being vocal and being seen… yes, bloggers are leading the genealogy community and it is all because we know how to spread information quickly and effectively.

But bloggers aren’t the only ones leading the genealogy community – we also have big companies and information spreading groups that are influencing the community.  FamilySearch is not only well known for free online records and indexing projects, but also for creating RootsTech – a conference that bridges the gap between technology and genealogy. isn’t just known for being a huge company with lots tons of records online, it is also known for being the main sponsor of Who Do You Think You Are? (US Version).  These companies and many others are getting their names out there.

Are Genealogy Societies Doomed? 

If genealogy societies do not choose to learn technology, then the whole community is in trouble.  Genealogy societies not only provide a place for genealogists to meet face to face, many societies also offer learning opportunities by hosting lectures and bringing in speakers, offering libraries for research, and helping the community through indexing or transcription projects.

But genealogy societies will disappear unless they start welcoming the technology crowd with opening arms and start considering how they will interact with the online genealogy community.  The technology crowd also needs to make an effort to step away from the computer once in a while and visit a real society.


Thoughts?  Comments?  Agree?  Disagree?


The Annual Miss Universe Party

Every year around Christmas time, the Doerflingers and friends attend the Miss Universe Party.  It has become a family tradition – and we always go all out.

The idea for the party started with my grandparents, Max and Margaret “Sis” (Harney) Doerflinger.  My grandparents were living in Santa Monica, California and would always throw parties for the friends, neighbors, and family in the area – since my grandparents were pretty well known, a lot of people would be attending.  It was soon decided that they needed a game – something that even the kids could play.  The results?  Miss Mud Pie.

The idea for the game came from the popularity of the Miss Universe and Miss USA Pageants that were started in 1952 in Long Beach, California.

The rules of the game were simple: Put the names of all attendees into a hat.  If your name is pulled out of the hat, you’re out of the game.  The last 5 names are to give speeches of what they would do if they were to win Miss Mud Pie.  The last name to be drawn will be crowned Miss Mud Pie.  My family even created a crown for the winner and a fake microphone to use during the speeches.

For reasons that no one seems to remember, in the 1960s, the name of the competition game was changed to Miss Universe.

In the early 1990s, our party was so big that we had to rent a small hall to fit everyone. I'm the little girl in the center with the golden crown on my head - it was my first Miss Universe title and I was only about 4 years old. And I plan on winning the title again in 2011.

Another game was added to the party: The Gag Gift Name.  It begins by everyone bringing a wrapped gag gift.  Then everyone draws a number from a hat.  Number 1 goes first and gets to choose a gift and unwrap it.  We move in numerical order until all the gifts are gone.  To make the game more interesting, instead of choosing an unopened gag gift, a player may also choose to “steal” a gift from someone else.  A gift may only be stolen twice (having been in the hands of a total of 3 people) before it becomes frozen and cannot be stolen again.  This game often gets really a little competitive – as someone always ends up bringing something absolutely ridiculous or something that people actually want.

Gag Gift Game - Circa 1994. That is my big blonde head in the bottom right hand corner.

Since I was little, we have changed a few things with the Miss Universe Game.  Now – everyone gets a paper sash with a name on it – the names vary based on the theme.  One year everyone was a different kind of flower.  One year we were cuts of meat.  One year we were natural disasters.  We also require that everyone brings a dollar and the crowned winner of the game gets all the money.

This is me... in my toothless wonder.

December 18th, 2011 (tomorrow), will be the next Miss Universe party – and I plan on regaining my title back… and getting the cash that goes along with it.

Happy Holidays!