When I was first considering becoming a contributor to the In-Depth Genealogist, I felt it necessary to look at their mission, their goals, and why they wanted to take on this new project; provide this new resource to us all. I quickly learned, both from my own personal research, and from getting to know the folks already involved, that the concept of “genealogy for all levels” was honest. They meant it. It didn’t matter if it was your first day or the first day of your 30th year conducting research; either for your own personal satisfaction or for clients. Here is what is stated on their website:
“We strive to provide useful and interesting information for genealogists of all levels.”
So, when I read I Really Hate Genealogy Snobs! by Scott Phillips in the HuffPost Lifestyle UK Edition, originally published 30 Dec 2012; I had to pause for a moment. He raises some good points, he has a good argument. He lists – in bullet point fashion – the examples of snobbery that he does not like in our field. I’ve seen them played out in various ways; I’ve felt the effects of a few here and there. I agree whole heartily that those folks can be irritating, annoying and simply pesky a great deal of the time. Not all “genealogy snobs” are you what you might think, however. I know that it is just as likely for someone who has minimal experience to tout themselves as an expert, and embarrass themselves – and the field – by pushing their opinions to the point of harassment.
Reassurance comes from knowing that the vast majority of folks I have met and interact with every day in the genealogy world are good, honest, genuine people – the kind you want to have a cup of coffee with. The kind that will listen to your questions, your brick wall, the 100th time you’ve wished that the 1890 Census would come back from the ashes and turn into paper again. These are the people that I try to surround myself with, the people that I listen to and take advice from – no matter what their skill level.
Certainly, every field has its “snobs”. We are human, after all. And yes, Mr. Phillips, sometimes I wish we could shove them all into a room and let them hack it out amongst them. I would not donate to that cause, though. I see much more value in putting all of the rest of us in a very large building, (perhaps a sports stadium would work?) and letting us all collaborate and learn from each other. (Can you imagine a genealogy conference on a truly global scale? Wow.) And that is what The In-Depth Genealogist is to me. It’s my stadium. It’s that place where I can go and ask any old question I want, knowing I am safe from criticism, ridicule or belittlement. I can state my opinion; I can offer suggestions to others. I can do all of those things because it truly is an environment created, and dedicated to, researchers of all levels.
Given all of that, I am not saying that those negative comments and attitudes should be ignored. Each of us must chose to handle individual situations in individual ways, and we must – and this is an absolute must – do what we believe to be right, fair and professional. We must defend ourselves, our reputations, and our industry as a whole; and whether that is done publicly or privately is again, an individual choice.
The article written by Scott Phillips proves one thing, for genealogists of all levels, around the globe: that collaboration and education efforts like The In-Depth Genealogist are absolutely necessary. Required, even, to change the attitude of a great number of people in our profession. No matter your preferred label, title, or otherwise, no matter your years of experience, the number of blog reader’s you have, the number of followers on Twitter; can we now reach across the continents? Can we not all just be genealogists? Passionate about our topic, our familial line, the history involved; the thrill of the chase and the ultimate satisfaction in finding a missing piece.
Shall we all now gather in that stadium together and make change happen?
© Jennifer Baldwin 2012
Jen Baldwin is the author of The Family Atlas, a monthly column in The In-Depth Genealogist which shares the wonderful resources that can be found in states across the US. She can also be found blogging at Ancestral Breezes.