Archiver > TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM > 2012-11 > 1353736151

From: Kim Ostermyer <>
Subject: [TGF] Bad Karma, newcomers
Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2012 21:49:11 -0800 (PST)

I have a confession to make--

I used to be one of those genealogists mentioned. I was a genealogy greenhorn at one point and it was a lot of fun. I had adrenaline rushes when I was doing my drive-by genealogy. I enjoyed the casual aspect of the hunt. I've matured a lot in my ten years of researching--what I am capable now is a wholly different level than what I did even five years ago. I've become more technical and more deliberate in my research, and certainly more analytical.

I don't have credentials but I am fully aware that I am not a hobbyist, amateur or hack. In the view of some, no credentials would seem that my abilities are mediocre at best, which is a slippery slope to be on. Drawing a line in the proverbial sand and casting out potential clients, colleagues and fellow seekers because of their inexperience is unkind and counter-intuitive to say the least. I think it's important to have standards to aim for, but not to such a degree as to dissuade the curious.

I have always had a concern over the undertow of the elitism that I was exposed to early on. For someone new to the field, it certainly would seem a bit daunting and disconcerting. While I understand the desire to have a field full of academic types with credentials and licensing, I feel it is unrealistic to expect this of lay genealogists. I wonder if the advocates for these standards quantify their everyday conversations with sources. I don't mean to imply citing sources while chit-chatting, but having a realistic expectation that a conversation is based on what could be considered facts and not the further repeating of the opinions of someone else.

I'm not on the restricting lay genealogists from joining the party, nor will I join up. Even as I am aiming for certification myself, I know that such a level of scholarship is atypical. If we assume that Malcolm Gladwell's theory that it takes 10,000 hours to master something, then most lay genealogists will never reach that point. This is what Bill Gates has to say on the matter: I know that I am beyond the drive-by genealogy because when I tell people what I am researching, I have to break it down into simpler terms.

Just a few thoughts.

Kim Ostermyer, futurecertified genealogist

This thread: