APG-L ArchivesArchiver > APG > 2007-12 > 1197237122
From: "Elizabeth Shown Mills" <>
Subject: Re: [APG] E: Ethical Membership
Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2007 15:52:42 -0600
>In Elizabeth's course at IGHR a couple of years ago one of the first things
she asked us was how many of us were professional genealogists. A handful of
people who are certified, lecturers, etc. raised their hands. Elizabeth
told us we were all professional genealogists--or we wouldn't be in the
class. (I'm sure Elizabeth said this more eloquently.)
I'm not so sure how "eloquent" I might be, but there's a hair that needs
splitting here, from the standpoint of APG-L discussions of who/what
constitutes a "professional." (Given that this IGHR course has already maxed
out its quota for 2008, no one should be able to say this is a "come on" to
encourage enrollment. :)
In the first class of the week, I do indeed ask how many in the course are
professionals--but not because the class is aimed to "professionals" or
because those who identify themselves as "professionals" are treated
differently. After that show of hands, which is meant to prompt each class
participant to think about his or her mindset as a genealogist, I ask what
the word "professional" means to them.
As context, the first word of the title of that first class is *Mindset.*
The point of that whole 75-minute session is that the *mindset* we take into
genealogy will affect our results and the quality of our results.
Specifically to the point of the word "professional": all of us on APG-L
have heard people say, "Oh, I don't have to do "this" or "that" like
*professionals* do; I'm just doing this for my family." In that context, it
is instructive to consider what *is* the difference between "professional"
and "amateur" (or "hobbyist").
Most class respondents to the question, "What is a 'professional' define it
as "one who does research for pay." Yet we all know that "taking pay" is no
measure of quality--and achieving quality is what Course 4 is all about.
Ergo, we look for other distinctions between those two words.
Etymologically, "amateur" comes from the Latin word meaning "love." It's
fairly safe to say that most of us in the class, whether we take pay or not,
are involved in genealogy because we love it. However, "love" is synonymous
with passion, not quality.
"Professional," on the other hand, comes from the Latin word meaning "to
profess" or "to declare" something. What professionals *declare* is
expertise in their field. Professionals are expected, by the public, to have
a commitment to quality and excellence. From that standpoint, I ask for
another show of hands: Is there anyone in the class who *doesn't* care about
achieving expertise or performing quality work?
No hands, of course, go up. All participants are there because they want to
be the best they can be. Whether or not they collect pay for their
genealogical research, they have a professional *mindset*--and that mindset
is what we build upon across the course of the week.
My bottom line, when I make that point, is this: In genealogy, the
difference between "amateur" and "pro" is not that one does it for love and
the other does it money. It's not that there are two sets of rules or
standards, depending upon whether we are a hobbyist or a professional. The
real difference is measured by the results we achieve--and those results
ultimately depend upon our mindset.
Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, Coordinator & Lead Instructor
Advanced Research Methodology & Evidence Analysis
Samford University Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research