TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM-L ArchivesArchiver > TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM > 2008-02 > 1202932003
From: "Christy Fillerup" <>
Subject: [TGF] Viewpoint on Professional Genealogy
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2008 12:46:43 -0700
This email is really long, and if you want to skip my life history and just
get the gist skip down to the last paragraph.
My previous email was written as the list administrator, a job I did not ask
for, but seem to have been popularly elected to as we are currently
leaderless. I do apologize if I offended anyone. My intention was not to
stifle the conversation, but perhaps to point out that the plan being put
forward by Mary Petty was intimidating some of the list.
This email I write purely as myself in regards to the "younger generation"
of professional genealogists. My path to this point has not been a
traditional one. I was employed in the energy business, as an
administrative assistant, a marketing coordinator, and a deal analyst for
five years right out of college. I wouldn't call this my avocation - it was
a job and nothing more. From the time I could read I wanted to study
history, but I allowed myself to be talked out of it by well meaning
parents - no money in history, you know. I was 18 and still under my
parents thumb - I'd change it in a heart beat if I could. One husband, two
kids, and five horrible years in corporate america later I'd had it.
What did I really love? What did I really want to do? I love history, and
more specifically I love history as it intersects with the lives of Joe
Schmoe and his wife and kids. I'd been working on my own family history for
years, and loved every minute. Why couldn't I make this my life's work? So
I started reading everything I could get my hands on, Evidence Explained,
ProGen, NGSQ, and every book I could afford from the published "must read"
lists. I enrolled in the National Institute of Genealogical Studies and
hope to obtain my PLCGS this year. I attended some of the night classes at
the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy as this was all we could afford, and I
hope to attend FGS this year. In short I started down what appeared to be
the path to becoming a professional.
This path ain't no yellow brick road though, there are very few road signs,
and even fewer helpful scarecrows along the way. I welcome a clear cut
career path to becoming a professional genealogist. I welcome more
stringent guidelines for entry into APG. I do not welcome the notion that
this process should take me 25 years before I'm ready to take on my first
client. I'm good at what I do, I know the records in my area like the back
of my hand, and I'm dilligently studying the correct ways to report and cite
my findings. In short, I believe I am prepared to take on clients with
simple research requests. Do I believe I'm ready to testify in court cases
or publish volumes of my wisdom? Of course not - I will grow to be more
comfortable with these and other complex projects over time. I refuse to
believe that I MUST be accredited AND certified, that I MUST have a degree
in genealogy, that I MUST work for a genealogy firm, or that I MUST be
published before I can hang out my shingle. I'm not afraid of any of the
things Elissa listed in her email, I'm not afraid of the work. It's not a
matter of the work involved, it's a matter of narrowing the scope of
possibiliteis to one. There is no right way to get there, only a right way
to do the work once you're there.
Thanks for your listening ear
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2008 11:39 AM
> Yesterday, Melissa e-mailed me offline with an observation that I feel
> help others on the list who may also be having those same concerns. When I
> responded, I commented that I wished she had posted her thoughts on line
> the benefit of others. She has given me permission to do so. Below, you'll
> find the core of her message and my response:
> Melissa wrote:
>> ... Last night I was lying away (trying to go to sleep) and my mind
>> wouldn't let this conversation go ...
>> I was asking myself, "Why are the newbie transitional genealogists so
>> to scare off or intimidated ....
>> It finally came to me, the new prospects for the profession, in most
>> cases, have other jobs or professions that they have for their "day job",
>> so if things get too hairy they can just back off and not lose anything.
>> Although I believe they will lose a lot, they might just be thinking "Who
>> needs this, I will just stick with my day job".
>> I know on the APG list and I believe in the genealogy world as a whole
>> there has been some serious worries about the younger generation or
>> another generation of professionals of any age not stepping up to take
>> place of the older generation. That there is no enthusiasm for the
>> profession in the new crop.
>> Encouragement is the key!
> In response, I wrote:
> We could also add a few more hurdles they have to face:
> a.. They can't pick up and move to SLC to get a degree from BYU.
> b.. They can't take a week off in the summer to go to IGHR or NIGR.
> c.. The demands of supporting a family and educating children doesn't
> leave them with spare cash to enroll in online courses from NIGS, Akamai,
> d.. The demands of work and family don't leave them with extra time to do
> a lot of study in the first place. (I quote: "It's hard enough for me to
> find time to do actual research. Time spent studying all those high-flown
> principles would leave no time for research at all." But, on the flip side
> of that, I tend to argue, time spent studying "how-to" will drastically
> reduce the amount of time wasted on fruitless searches. :)
> All of these contingencies can and do leave many prospective professionals
> feeling hopeless. On the other hand, turning something we love into a
> sustainable career is a serious business. Statistics show that most people
> who quit their day job and strike out on their own, with whatever they
> will not last five years. Most don't last a year. The reason, invariably,
> is that they did not realistically assess the requirements and demands of
> the new career path.
> As much as anybody, I want to encourage new prospects for the field. But,
> IMO, we do them a disservice if we don't help them understand what it is
> they are taking on. We want them to succeed, not start and fail. The
> is that, in that process of learning what successful professional
> genealogists do (and have to do), if they feel it is best for them to drop
> their plans or postpone them, then they are probably making a wise
> If, once they know what lies ahead, they decide this is still what they
> want, then they'll have a far greater chance to succeed.
> Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
> Samford University Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research
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|[TGF] Viewpoint on Professional Genealogy by "Christy Fillerup" <>|