His blog starts off saying how the above enticement to involve more people in the genealogy tent is great, but feels genealogists, in short, are getting a bad rap. I am tired of this hypocrisy. On one hand, genealogists tell you that to know an ancestor, you must move beyond the names, dates, and places on a family tree; but on the other hand, we're not supposed to? Which is it?
Instead of leaving a huge comment on his comment feed, I decided to blog here. Let the pot be stirred.
The genealogy tent is too small. It can and should be larger.
It takes a long time to build a house if one person is doing every part of construction. But if a designer designs, a framer frames, and electrician does electrical stuff, a dry wall-er does dry wall, etc, etc.... the house gets built a whole lot faster. And, usually the house is built better. Why? Because people who do their part, usually do it well and with more energy than one person doing every piece of the puzzle.
Might you consider this.... how many ancestor's stories and documents have been lost because few people want to be the jack-of-all trades genealogist rather than a player on a family history team?
The LDS Church, and by extension FamilySearch, has been preaching the research proof standard for so many years, very few people want to participate. It's tough. It's time consuming. It doesn't appeal to everyone. I've attended classes and worship service 'lectures' on family history and they are B-O-R-I-N-G to anyone who is not a genea-addict.
Many LDS church members have "Books of Remembrance" that are copies of copies of copies of family group sheets and pedigree charts. Few have any documents, which is what was preached in the days of my mother-in-law. Why? Because copying those items was more difficult, than copying the group sheets? Because finding those items for inclusion is too difficult? Probably both, and other reasons.
There was an adage, 'don't put anything on the Book of Remembrance charts until you have documented proof of the fact.' Genealogists would say, "Heck yeah! That's right." But how many genealogists also have recorded 'theories' for people until they can find the proof. And what about persons who have no proof? Does a relative knowing the person existed count for something when a documentation can't prove it?
Teaching the masses in this way, has scared far too many people away from genealogy and its cousin, family history. But, how many people who 'aren't into genealogy' have a house full of photos, a head full of memories, or artifacts that give the details of a particular ancestors life?
Expanding the tent put into action
|My Brown Family Team players|
Here's another team in my home. My mother-in-law has preserved a lot of documents. I'm so grateful to her. But, she's not into genealogy. I've asked her to do a specific task, scan the family photos. And she's ecstatic to have a specific job. I have a brother-in-law who now has the responsibility of photographing the family artifacts. Sure I could do it, but I'm hundreds of miles away and he's a better photographer. He'll play a role in the genealogy process, without needing to dig for facts. His research loving brother, my husband, will work on that. Three people pulling the wagon, rather than one. Okay, I've lost my sports and camping analogies, but the wagon pulling image fits, especially since this is a family of pioneers!
The importance of genealogist will never decrease
As we invite people to participate in family history, using their best skills, then the wealth of information grows and is richer. The work becomes easier for the genealogist. And less stories, artifacts, and documents disappear.
The importance of research will never decrease. Many, many times, I'll learn a fact, open a brick wall, or extend the tree. Often, I'll come across something, turn to the family and say, "Who knows about this?" That might trigger a memory and I have an answer. If no answer is known, I have more research to do. Genealogists are only pushed out if they choose to be.
By including my family, they buy into the whole of the family story. Again and again, my aunt tells me "Thank you for figuring this out" or a cousin will say, "How did you ever discover this?" Through research. My Brown line is learning we have a Civil War ancestor. No one knew this until I found his gravestone in a less visited cemetery with a terrible record set. Yep... my family members would never have taken the time to research this, but I did. I'm still researching the story, but I know the fact. So you see, there will always be a need for a researcher.
The real question is this: "Do you want more people in the tent or is family history exclusive to genealogists only?"
|Is family history only for|
Kudos to FamilySearch for expanding the tent
The people that FamilySearch just might be inviting into the tent are those who have no tree completed at all. I can't tell you the number of people I've discovered as friends of my family members that no one is researching. Do they matter? Are their stories tucked inside a 'non-genealogist' mind, never to be retrieved when they die? How tragic.
Perhaps FamilySearch is inviting people with a house full of documents in file drawers that haven't seen the light of days in decades. Or the people with 50+ photo albums with only a hand-full of them labeled. Or the people with an aged family member who constantly tells stories at family gatherings but no one bothers to write or voice record them. Again, how many times do the 'people who know' die and leave the family guessing. A little invitation to participate, could have salvaged those items. And those things could make the family story a treasure more precious than gold.
I am excited to see people who are in their 80s realize... "I'm not a genealogist, but I can share my stories, label my photos, and give it to a tech savy grandkid to scan and turn into something wonderful." She's no in the tent, that's not for genealogists only.
How do we get more people in the tent? We stop teaching LDS church members, and those who use FamilySearch, about genealogy and we start teaching them the roles in family history. You do that by saying "Family History is more than just dates, records, and research."
I fully believe you won't push genealogist out, you'll invite reinforcements in.
(In case you missed it, I also wrote a post called Tech Tuesday: Family Search Redesign Hacks Off Old Guard Genealogists, but not me about negative posts associated with the FamilySearch.org redesign).