Over the last few days, I’ve seen some great thought provoking articles about a survey 1000Memories.com recently conducted. In short, the results showed more people are interested in genealogy but they know less about their family history. Read more about the survey here. You can read Caroline Pointer’s reaction (of 4YourFamilyStory fame) here and Thomas MacEntee’s reaction (of Geneabloggers fame) here.
Now for my opinion… You should look forward when you look back.
You Shouldn’t Have to Qualify for Medicare to Research:
It seems that it is an unspoken rule that you must be retired or over a certain age to want to research your family history – and this is a rule that needs to be erased from everyone’s head. While people think that young genealogists like myself are a rarity in the community, I would disagree. Having a curiosity of where you come from is something that we all have inside of us, regardless of age, but not all of us become
addicted obsessed with it.
In my opinion, I think there are plenty of young genealogists and family historians in the world. But a lot of them stay in hiding, afraid of making a mistake, afraid of being treated like an amateur, feeling that their computers and technology tools are unwelcome. How do I know? Because prior to connecting with the online genealogy community, that is exactly how I felt. There are still days when I go to some genealogy societies and if I ask a question or make a suggestion that challenges the status quo, I’m treated like a traitor. Before I had my network of genealogy friends online, I would become discouraged and feel like maybe I didn’t belong in this community.
So if you are a young genealogist in hiding, you aren’t alone. When you are ready, make yourself known on blogs, social media, at conferences, and even at a genealogy society meeting. You will find your tribe – I promise. And if you are having trouble, tell me. We’ll find your tribe together.
I Don’t Care Where You Put Your Comma
I am a big supporter of source citations. I think they are vital in doing research. While the industry standard is to use the formats explained in Evidence Explained, I don’t care what format you use.
Your source citations need to match your end goals. Are you trying to become a professional genealogist? Then you better open up that book of Evidence Explained and get your citations in proper form. Are you trying to publish a family history book or website? Then you better pick a citation style (whether that be Evidence Explained or APA format… I don’t care) and stick to it. Some other researcher or descendant of yours will someday find that book and want to retrace your steps to confirm your claims. Are you just trying to research your family tree for yourself? Then write down enough information to be able to find that exact document again – remember that it is safer to put more information than you need than to put too little and not be able to find that source again.
When it comes to source citations, the only thing I care about is whether you have given me enough information to be able to find the source again on my own. Your source citation needs to be clear and detailed. I don’t care if you put the comma in the wrong place or if you use APA format instead of Evidence Explained format. Source citations are meant to be your bread crumb trail that can lead yourself and others back to the source document – as long as it does that, I don’t care.
I’m not saying that you need to be a computer expert, but I think you have to have a basic knowledge and an openness to learn. Find a tech savvy friend to gain some new skills. Take classes at seminars and conferences. Always be learning. Always.
For the genealogy societies of the world – listen up: Get a web presence. You need a website and it has to be updated regularly. Use the website as your advertisement to draw potential new members in and show them the value of your society. Keep the calendar section updated to discuss new meetings and lectures. Consider adding pictures and copies of your newsletter too.
Making these changes means more people will have the opportunity to learn about how to do genealogy, which is good for everyone.
So what are your thoughts about the survey results from 1000Memories.com?