Examples of the Positive in the (Genealogy) World

Yesterday I ranted about discussed how I choose to take positive action when confronted with willful ignorance.1 My example yesterday, of the use of certain terminology, was nit-picky, I admit. So today, I’m pulling a Dan Mitchell and listing real examples of behavior not to be emulated:

  • The certified genealogist who published a series of books based on the work of other researchers, without citing sources or doing any work to confirm the findings of those other researchers, and who then complained, when confronted with problems in the research, that it was hard to publish and s/he couldn’t be responsible for errors in the publication.
  • The professional genealogist who told a potential client interested in having slave ancestors researched that unless the slave holding family left a will, there was no way to trace the slave.
  • Another professional genealogist who told a potential client that wills were the only records of probate available for research.
  • Two professional genealogists who advocate strictly defined limits on who can perform professional genealogy, including high standards of professionalism, but whose conduct is so unprofessional it has drawn open censure from other professionals.

Followed by examples, in no particular order, of genealogists who go above and beyond the call of duty to help others:

  • Elizabeth Shown Mills, who has contributed so much to the field that it’s difficult to summarize her activities. Among other things, she opens her virtual door to questions from all researchers in a variety of forums, in addition to all of her many duties.
  • Judy G. Russell, whose blog The Legal Genealogist is one of the best resources for understanding historic legal records.
  • Thomas W. Jones, who is one of the editors of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and a prominent teacher and lecturer.
  • Christine Rose, who, among her other duties, has published many helpful, high-quality guides.

This list could get very long indeed if I listed everyone by name (and, believe me, I have a long list of genealogists to be thankful for), so I’ll just make a shout-out to all the individuals out there who:

  • Write informational and educational blogs
  • Edit and/or contribute to society publications
  • Speak for societies and at conferences
  • Write books on genealogy-related topics
  • Share knowledge by participating in mailing lists and other forums
  • Donate time and/or money to societies, libraries, and other places
  • Work to preserve historic documents and artifacts
  • Mentor other genealogists through tough research problems
  • And so much more!

I know many genealogists who contribute their time, whether paid or not, to helping others in the genealogical community. Thankfully, these individuals comprise the large majority of genealogists. We are a helpful bunch!

Speaking of, have you done your good deed for the week?

* * * * *

1. I did not intend to call the population at large ignorant. That is certainly not the case. My frustration comes through the actions of those who deliberately remain ignorant for reasons that are specious rather than innocent.


5 Responses to “Examples of the Positive in the (Genealogy) World”

  1. Thank you for posting this and for working to focus on the positive. I appreciate finding other “like minded” folks in genealogy who are working towards advancing the field while at the same time realizing that we need to be as welcoming as possible especially to the newcomers.

    There’s way too much negativity in the world as it is, and I hate seeing it creep into the genealogy community. Lately when someone comes to me to complain or to be overly critical of someone or something in genealogy, I turn it around and say “And what are you doing right now to move the community forward?”

    We all need to focus on this – it doesn’t mean we take a Pollyana approach and ignore real issues. But we do need to turn lemons into lemonade and stop focusing on the petty stuff.

    • Thank you for stopping by, Thomas, and for your thoughts, with which I heartily agree. I work every day to be a positive example. I often fall short, but I do try!

      And I would like to extend a personal thank you to you for your work in the genealogy community. You are a shining example of the good that can be done through the determined efforts of one individual. I know many people, including myself, who have benefited from your good work. We appreciate it. 🙂

  2. I’m glad you find _The Legal Genealogist_ helpful, Dawn — and I am most grateful for your way-too-kind words.


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