Archiver > TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM > 2012-05 > 1338302756

From: "Thomas Macentee" <>
Subject: Re: [TGF] introduction and thoughts from a young genealogist!
Date: Tue, 29 May 2012 09:45:56 -0500
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In-Reply-To: <>


Thank you, especially for your honesty and your heartfelt comments. I would
encourage you to keep the conversation going on these topics - the
perspective of the younger genealogist is important.

I couldn't figure out if you have a blog or are on social media but I assume
you are. I would encourage you to start a genealogy blog if you don't
already have one - it is a great way to not only voice your opinion on these
issues, but also solicit feedback and propose new ideas to the genealogy

WE NEED YOUR PERSPECTIVE and the perspective of those who are going to carry
the genealogy community and industry forward. Don't let the naysayers and
the critics deter you. Sometimes you have to be a "bull in a china shop" -
I know this all too well. I am approaching my golden year in December and I
still feel like the youngest genealogist when I attend society meetings or
go to conferences. I get frustrated. But I also realize that the genealogy
community is in transition especially when it comes to technology and we
need folks to shepherd the community to new technologies while we still
teach the newcomers and younger genealogists the basics and standards of
sound genealogical research and methodologies.

I also think this would be a good tactic/approach for the genealogy
community and especially societies: start an "under 40" group or have
special "under 30" discounts. Many non-profits due this especially the arts
groups. SF Opera and the SF Symphony have special under 30 discounts and
social groups which help build a love for opera and classical music - and
even special educational talks prior to each performance just for the under
30 crowd. I would love to see APG and others set up similar groups - it
would be an effective way to solicit feedback from the younger genealogists
and also bring them into the fold.

And finally, as another LGBT genealogist, I appreciate being able to discuss
the issues involved with being queer and also working within our families to
document history. I believe there are more gay genealogists than people
realize perhaps due to the issues of time and economics: LGBT people tend to
have more disposable income to devote to genealogy and more time available
to do so. I know so many LGBT people personally who become both the
caretakers for parents because out of all the siblings they have the time
and money to do this, and the same holds true with being the caretaker for
family history. You should also know that I am "out" to much of the
genealogy community and I have not had much "push back" - of course there
are those, including some vendors, who don't want to work with me simply
because I am what G_d made me, but I figure that is their loss. Overall,
I've had support from a community that is intelligent, caring, open-minded
and have open arms and hearts. And for that I am grateful.

Thomas MacEntee
Founder, High-Definition Genealogy
+1 (773) 661-3080

-----Original Message-----
[mailto:] On Behalf Of
Eva Goodwin
Sent: Monday, May 28, 2012 2:51 PM
Subject: [TGF] introduction and thoughts from a young genealogist!

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 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 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

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,

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