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Archiver > APG > 2009-05 > 1241897201

From: <>
Subject: Re: [APG] Genealogical Education
Date: Sat, 9 May 2009 14:26:41 -0500
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Kathy wrote:
>if many years of effort and diverse strategies have not resulted in being
able to insinuate genealogy into the college curriculum, I suspect that more
than prejudice and stereotyping is at the heart of the matter.

>The bottom line is that neither Rodney Dangerfield hand wringing about the
"prejudices" of academic historians nor trying to emulate
traditional liberal arts disciplines may be the most productive route to
entry into higher education. Perhaps an examination of newer applied
disciplines and how they managed to make it into academia, as well as a
careful study of occupational demand in the field of genealogy, may be more

Kathy, issues are always far more complex than just "prejudice and
stereotyping." Similarly, "handwringing" is not the state of affairs with
*this* issue--and "academic historians" are not the big, bad, bogey-man or
the singular nemesis of educational progress in our field.

Every discussion needs considerations of both pros and cons. Both are needed
for this subject because--until and unless any one of us actively pursue
this area--we tend to make naïve assumptions of the "Well, let's try *this*
" ilk. To assess our potential, we have to discuss what has already been
tried, how it was approached, and whether the results were positive or

Kathy also wrote:
> I see genealogy as an applied field, like social work, landscape
architecture, and hospitality management. Applied fields employ, adapt, and
apply information generated by "pure" fields to some task or problem at
hand. For applied fields to gain a toehold within academia, they need to
justify their existence, typically through a demonstration of work force
needs, i.e., occupational demand.

This is indeed a strong selling point for our field--perhaps the strongest
that we have. Applying it over the past half-dozen years *has* produced some
results. As Carolyn Billingsley noted with regard to her academic field,
history, there *is* an "applied field" known as Public History. Back in '03,
in the "centennial address" for NGS where I broached issues of this type,
suggestions included providing scholarships to graduate students in sundry
fields to attend the NGS and other conferences, where they might discover
what our field has to offer to their educational growth. Progressive
genealogists with the Indiana Historical Society and the Indiana
Genealogical Society did just that--offering scholarships to Public History
students at Indiana University to attend the biennial Midwestern Roots
Conference. Our field could do *much* more of that. Every graduate student
who has a positive exposure to genealogy is one who will react positively to
the concept of genealogy being included in the academic system.

Similarly, a major university has begun a "professional certificate" program
in the field of genealogy. In assessing its prospects for viability as a
brick-and-mortar program as well as an online program, the prospect of
marketing the course to area graduate students in the humanities, who
frequently need a "marketable skill" in the event that they do not land the
teaching job they hope for, was an approach the university had not
considered but was quite receptive to.

Ideas and professional genealogists willing to make a commitment to
implement those ideas--we need both.


Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
APG member, Tennessee

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