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?

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7 responses to “Are Bloggers Leading the Genealogy Community?

  1. Elyse,

    Overall, I agree but it think when it comes to the societies change is much more than just technology. They need to be able to embrace all the changes that are coming such as demographics in order to meet the needs of upcoming genealogists.

    Marian Pierre-Louis´s last blog post ..Are Bloggers Really the New Experts Part 2

    • Marian – I can’t agree more! I’ve been burned by my local society, which continually tried to treat me like I had no idea what I was doing, no concept of history, and every time I mentioned the slightest technology tool or website, they acted like I had just committed treason. I know that I am on the younger side of the genealogy community and I don’t mind a few jokes here or there about my age. I don’t mind people initially thinking I’m a beginner. But when I pull up my tree on my laptop and show you the work I’ve done, tell you how long I’ve been doing this, and tell you about some of the books I’ve read, I expect you to back off on the newbie stuff. I tried 3 meetings and haven’t been back since.

  2. Elyse I think some societies might be surprised how quickly online genealogy is changing the way we research. It started slowly about 20 years ago, and today it is changing almost daily, but not everything is online yet and probably never will be. I do research for others at the library and the courthouse for our local gene society, and that has changes a lot over the years, I used to do mainly census lookups, now I have not done one in years. I also used to go to the courthouse weekly, now once every couple of months if I get a request. Our society does have a blog and a Facebook page, so I guess we are trying to get more younger members.

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  6. I’m doing some catching up, so I just read this post today. First, Elyse, I am so sorry you were treated so shabbily at the local genealogical society. Our society — the Southern Genealogists Exchange Society in Jacksonville, Florida — is trying to attract younger people. We have a website (undergoing redesign), a blog (which I need to get going for this new year), wi-fi at our society library with’s World edition for use at the society, a computer chairman (my husband, programmer for 20+ years in federal civil service) who installed and supervises the wi-fi setup and advises the society on technology, and use of technology just about every day.

    Secondly, I think you are right in that there are many centers of leadership in any broad endeavor such as genealogy.

    Finally, I caution everyone on the use of the word ‘expert.’ My father-in-law’s definition of that word was: “Ex” is a has-been, and a “spurt” is a drip under pressure!
    Karen Rhodes´s last blog post ..The REAL First Thanksgiving

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