TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM-L ArchivesArchiver > TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM > 2012-05 > 1338235682
From: Sheri Fenley <>
Subject: Re: [TGF] introduction and thoughts from a young genealogist!
Date: Mon, 28 May 2012 13:08:02 -0700
You have restored my faith in the younger generation and their capacity to
"get it" when discussing ancestors, family history, etc. Because
underneath all the citations, the clients, the reports, etc. is the root of
it all - our family and the need to know where and from who we came.
And even though I have shoes that are older than you - I think we would
have no problem sharing ideas and communicating. You are so correct in
saying that the bridge between the generations needs to be fortified.
On Mon, May 28, 2012 at 12:50 PM, Eva Goodwin <> wrote:
> Hello all,
> Fairly new to the list and just wanting to introduce myself. I've been
> lurking for a few months and have benefited greatly from the conversations
> and information-sharing that happens here. Thank you!
> I'm 25 years old and have been doing genealogy as a hobby for, oh, about 15
> years! Of course I have become more serious in the past 6-7 years, and that
> is largely thanks to Ancestry.com which was my "hook" into serious
> research. But I have been obsessed with history and memory for as long as I
> can remember, fueled originally by a number of family items that have
> passed down my maternal line (from 3rd-great-grandmother through daughters,
> down to me), including several scrapbooks from my 2nd-great-grandmother
> that include a family tree of her maternal line. These items and
> Ancestry.com were the jumping off points for my research but in the past 3
> years I have branched out way beyond that and have been studying and
> applying the BCG standards to my research with the eventual goal being to
> become certified. It's an exciting process. I'm also enrolled right now in
> the American Records certificate program at the National Institute for
> Genealogical Studies in Toronto (I chose that one because they also have a
> lot of Canadian records electives, and since I'm half Canadian that seemed
> smart). But I'd like to possibly do other courses too, perhaps BU or even
> eventually the Samford Institute.
> I attended the NGS conference in Cincinnati several weeks ago and learned a
> lot and had a fabulous time. I have a few remarks that I thought I'd share
> to the list. I was one of the few people under 40 that I spotted at the
> entire event, and was probably the only one under 30 (though there might've
> been another 1 or 2 that I just never glimpsed). I found that pretty
> dismaying. I think it's an unfortunate generational disconnect that I hope
> will start changing over the next few years. I received quite a few
> condescending remarks (e.g., "you're too young to be doing genealogy"
> followed by popcorn-style "quizzing" on my knowledge around county
> formation dates, etc. by one gentleman) but also many more welcoming ones.
> People seemed mostly thrilled to see a young person there. But for all that
> people said things like "it's so great to see you here, we need more young
> people to be doing this!" not a single person asked me questions about why
> I was interested in genealogy, what drew me to it, and what about it feels
> relevant to me as a young person. It seems to me that, yes, young people
> often lack the perspective of time, history, and family that often comes
> with age. And it seemed to me that most of the people at the conference
> that I talked to also lacked any curiosity about how to bring young people
> in more - I was more of an oddity than someone to take seriously. And I
> really think that's a conversation worth having. I think that the embracing
> of technology and Web 2.0, apps, and all the newfangled web-fads is
> fantastic and will certainly help hook the youngins - but I still found a
> lot of the tech-focused conversations to be around a kind of usability that
> doesn't feel super relevant for my generation. I'm excited to see where web
> and software developers can take us in the next few years and I hope that
> more and more talented developers will focus on genealogy-related apps,
> because a lot of the softwares and programs that are available now feel
> quite old-school - which is absolutely not to harp on them or their
> functionality, at all. But is just to remark that something that feels
> intuitive for a computer-user who was reared in the 90s and early 2000s
> (like me) is probably quite different from something that feels intuitive
> for someone who is being reared now, or for someone who was reared in the
> 70s and 80s.
> I also think that there's more of a philosophical hook, though. Beyond
> technology. And that is: why do we even *do* family history? I think the
> misconception that a lot of young people have is that it's either (a) to
> prove pedigree, or (b) to deal with nostalgia for "olden days" or to hold
> onto something that's bygone. I think that both of these things have
> elements of truth, but I definitely think that these are gross
> misconceptions of why it is that we do family history research. But I found
> that conversation largely absent at the conference and I think it's one
> that needs to happen. (I should note that I'm SURE these conversations ARE
> happening, I just don't know where, and I would LOVE to participate in them
> if folks point me in the right direction!) In a world that is increasingly
> mobile, in which people move around more than ever, in which definitions of
> family are rapidly changing (as a queer person myself, this is even more
> true for me than perhaps others), and in which community more and more is
> fostered virtually rather than locally, I think that genealogists need to
> be super excited about how to work WITH this. People in my generation who
> are so mobile and unrooted aren't interested in proving that they are
> Mayflower descendants, but we ARE interested in understanding who we are
> and where we come from in a rapidly changing world. We want to feel placed,
> we want to feel like we understand our identity as everything around us is
> shifting so quickly and as the places we live are often not really "home."
> We also want, I think (or I do anyway) to learn about our
> shifting-communities, in all their complexities, and in ways that expand
> beyond family, beyond facts about individual lives, to get to a sense of
> what our lives in the world mean, who has preceded us, and how we want to
> move through our lives. That's what it all means to me. I know I'm not
> saying anything new here - I'm just excited that the conference prompted me
> to think about all of this.
> The session at the conference that I was most excited by was Elizabeth
> Shown Mills's presentation on organizing research around the "FAN club."
> (That was on Saturday, I think.) It opens room for thinking about the
> importance of people other than the family members and for understanding
> the community as a whole, and not just an individual person's life. I know
> that this is something that good genealogists have done for a long time.
> It's something that I have done too, but this session in particular helped
> me think about how doing that is not JUST so that I can understand my
> ancestors' individual lives better -- it's about understanding the
> communities they came from, who they might've been, and how that laid the
> groundwork for the world I live in now.
> I'll end. This was a terribly long-winded introduction, I apologize! I am
> excited about continuing this work and am excited too about continuing to
> show up in genealogy spaces and having these conversations that I so badly
> want to have with you all.
> Kind regards,
> The Transitional Genealogists List was created to provide a supportive
> environment for genealogists to learn best practices as they transition to
> professional level work. Please respect the kind intentions of this list.
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*The Educated Genealogist*
|Re: [TGF] introduction and thoughts from a young genealogist! by Sheri Fenley <>|