TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM-L ArchivesArchiver > TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM > 2008-02 > 1202794262
From: "Mary E. Petty - Heirlines, Inc" <>
Subject: Re: [TGF] MaryPetty-atransitional-genealogist'sviewpointonProfessional Genealogy
Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2008 22:31:02 -0700
Your email never came to me today until quite late in the day. Thank you for taking the time to read and address my posting. I know we have formally been advised that this discussion is over, but I did not want to leave it without a closure.
Genealogy has changed considerably in America over the past 150 years. As a viable means of full-time employment, very few people beyond localized pockets like Salt Lake had the opportunity to have it as a career, much less a profession. BYU has been teaching genealogy since sometime after 1875 but didn't go to a degree program till sometime in the 20th century. For a short time they actually had a master's degree program which did not survive. All the while, practitioners here in Salt Lake, and elsewhere who were career professionals in genealogy doing research full-time in professional genealogy research services (in-depth research on family trees) , looked for the means to professionalize and to market themselves as commercial genealogist.
Fortunately, forward thinking people who had the luxury of time and resources, did this emerging profession a favor in the 1960's: the LDS Church developed the Accreditation Program and the BCG did the Certification Program. A few people used these credentials and started companies that have had a rich history in professional genealogy research services. Many other fine genealogists also started their own companies, with no formal education, no certification and no accreditation, because everyone has their own way to success and professionalism.
APG started here in Salt Lake City, Utah in the late 1970s with a core group of professional practitioners who wanted to build up genealogy as a business. And through the ensuing years, this commercial industry has grown. Unfortunately when the Internet came alive, so did everyone who thought they were professional genealogists. With no proof but their own say so, they put out their shingle on the web and said "I can trace your family tree. I am a professional genealogist. " A real buyers-beware marketplace for both the practitioner and the consumer has evolved where anyone can say anything. This profession is now an umbrella of talent and experience and skill and knowledge and education. Almost everyone has their own standard of qualified practitioner in this unregulated profession.
For many years now we have been encouraging a more quantified way to designation as a professional. We will continue to do so no matter what, because this profession is our living. We know first hand what is happening in the marketplace and have our eye on the future. We are preparing for those changes and for the growth that is to come. I am working on my degree in genealogy in between work and all my responsibilities. It is an interesting place to be as a transitional genealogist and someone with nearly 4 decades of experience in the commercial side of professional genealogy research services.
I wish everyone on this list the very best with your careers and your businesses as practitioners, authors, lecturers, educators, librarians, publishers, web-designers, database builders, and all facets of genealogy under the umbrella. Exciting days are ahead.
Mary E. Petty, B.A.
Ancestors are the People of History. Do you know who yours are?<br><br>Let the Professionals at HEIRLINES Family History & Genealogy find your ancestry!
1-800-570-4049 ▪ www.heirlines.com ▪ PO Box 893 ▪ Salt Lake City, UT 84110
From: [mailto:] On Behalf Of
Sent: Monday, February 11, 2008 12:29 PM
Subject: Re: [TGF] Mary Petty-atransitional-genealogist'sviewpointonProfessional Genealogy
Mary, I am not saying there is not an "industry" associated with genealogy.
To cut to the quick of the matter, there is a business side to every
profession. But when professional genealogists use the term "industry" to
describe their own practice they perpetuate the old concepts of genealogy
that you decry. Having been an active professional through all the decades
you describe for Jim's experience, and having carried my own spears in the
battle to have genealogy accepted as a legitimate field for study in
accredited academic institutions, my outlook has been very much shaped by
the still entrenched assumptions, amid the public as well as the academic
world, that (a) genealogy requires no special knowledge, because (b) the
records are there, so all a genealogist has to do is go pull them.
The concept of genealogy as a learned field that requires extensive
knowledge of subject matter--from history to law to DNA--equally extensive
knowledge of research principles and standards, and keenly honed analytical
abilities is totally foreign to the public mind. Frequent posts on this list
make that point. Categorizing these highly professional activities as an
industry diminishes us to the old concept of genealogists just churning out
copies of records.
I still maintain that Ancestry operates an industry and that most
participants of this list practice a profession (and I don't think anyone
who knows me would say my concept of genealogy is stuck in the 60s :).
Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
Advanced Research Methodology & Evidence Analysis
Samford University Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research
To unsubscribe from the list, please send an email to with the word 'unsubscribe' without the quotes in the subject and the body of the message
|Re: [TGF] MaryPetty-atransitional-genealogist'sviewpointonProfessional Genealogy by "Mary E. Petty - Heirlines, Inc" <>|