TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM-L ArchivesArchiver > TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM > 2008-02 > 1202933927
Subject: Re: [TGF] Viewpoint on Professional Genealogy
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2008 14:18:47 -0600
> 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
Christy, some individuals "do genealogy" for 25 years and produce work of
just about the same quality they produced in their first couple of years.
Other individuals who take advantage of every means available, as you have
said you do, have been able to produce superb client work in 3-5 years after
the "bug bites." As Elissa says, "mindset" makes a difference. (My late
husband, a university prof in history, had a "dream" of being a songwriter.
He died, earlier than he thought, leaving boxes and boxes of songs and tapes
that he never did anything with. Our oldest son had the same dream. He left
home at 19 for the Big Apple to make it happen. It happened. In every
career, it's all about how badly one wants it.)
The other night, I commented about the despair I felt in the early 70s, with
each issue I received of Mary Bondurant Warren's _Family Puzzlers._ I
thought I would never be able to learn all I needed to know to be a real
genealogist. In the meanwhile, as I worked on Gary's Louisiana family, I
became known for what I did know about that society--to the point that I
could have been working 125 hours a week pro-bono for all the people who
wrote asking for help.
That's the point at which I decided that maybe I did know enough to be a
professional genealogist, specializing in Louisiana's French/Spanish
culture. So what if I didn't know all I wanted or needed to know about
Anglo-Protestants all across the South; I simply wouldn't take those
assignments. That's also the point at which I decided that before I took
genealogical clients, I owed it to the public to find out if I did, indeed,
know as much about research in that society as I thought I did. The way to
find that out, I decided, was to apply for certification on the basis of my
I passed. I also found out from the judges that I didn't know as much as I
thought I did. :) But I knew enough to meet the minimum standards. It's been
25+ years since then, and I'm still learning.
In your whole posting, Christy, I sense an underlying question: How do I
know when I'm really qualified to call myself a professional? One route
might be the route I took. Submit samples of your work for peer review.
You not only find out whether you're ready, but you'll also have
personalized feedback from some of the best genealogists in the
country--and, odds are, you'll have a credential that will help you obtain
the best clients possible.
Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
Samford University Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research
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