Monday, December 19, 2011

Is The Genealogical Community Closed or Inclusive?

There has been much dialogue in the past week about the inclusiveness of the genealogical community from many perspectives. Good discussions and much to consider, especially when looking at one's own position in the community.

I have to thank George Geder, James Tanner, Robin Foster and others for joining the discussion and for bringing out the issue that many have felt for some time. There are indeed communities and circles of influence from which many have been locked out. There are the elite groups that have been a small circle and who have occasionally opened their doors to a handful of new initiates, who will take their seat in the same small circle.

But there have also been changes--thanks to a new medium and new entities shaped by the internet. Yet in spite of those new platforms, from Facebook to Twitter, many others especially in minority communities, still operate in a real-time arena. So as a result the question must be asked, are many talented people being bypassed in spite of their talents and gifts, since new rules have been made that do not include them?

If one is not blogging, tweeting, forming circles and "friending" strangers, is there a new shut-out? 

There might just be. And add to that, many are coming online hanging up shingles, setting up businesses, and becoming successful and being lauded as the new "authorities". With a strong online presence, the new authorities realize that they will be seen, and those in the real world, real time arena, who occasionally browse online for speakers---they see the new "authorities" and thus launch them into a higher realm, or at least push them closer into the inner circle.

But--there are others who are also part of the genealogy community, who are not following the new rules. They are not singing the praises only of the elite 50 nor are they working hard to join them. But what they are doing is sharing, teaching, giving and mentoring. And those mentors and teachers are the the critical people who give to all. The emerging stars and the unknown alike benefit from what they do. I have come to appreciate so many people with all of their talents. 

But I truly admire most those treasured teachers among us, who have only the desire to share, to help and to nurture. Because of them, many of us have found a comfortable place where we can grow, and learn and feel connected. 

Yes there is a vibrant genealogy community and some have made it a good place for the rest of us to find "a place called home."


Robin R. Foster said...

Wonderful article, Angela! Social media has brought a certain fairness to all involved. When we engage with one another, however heated, opportunities are equalized for all involved eventually. It is no longer about "me" but "we."

Does everyone have to have a Facebook or Twitter account for this to happen? And what about the folks who do not make it to the major conferences and are still on dial up or live in places so remote that people will not go?

They have desires just a strong. Our goal should now be to find a way to bridge this gap to include everyone. I believe we are making great strides, but how can we do more?

Amy Crooks said...

Well said. I too have come to appreciate the unsung heroes of genelaogy that have shared with me and taught me a great deal and wanted nothing in return other than to share. They do it for the love of it.

Skip Murray said...

I LOVE this! Very well written!
Skip Murray

Kristin said...

hear, hear!

Kathleen Brandt, Professional Genealogist said...

Thanks for this post. I'm hoping this conversation continues.

Sefu Binta said...

I said before, there is resistance in one's family let lone the community. What more can we expect. Like Angela thank God for the teachers. They may light that spark just enough to make another customer or follower. Either way you gotta let someone in to see where it might take you.

Craig Manson said...

Bravo, Angela!

Anonymous said...

Good points Robin!

There are those on dial-up, not on FB or Twitter, and don't have easy access to genealogy societies... but they are part of the family.

We must also let them know that they are included in our efforts of giving and sharing!

Peace & Blessings,
"Guided by the Ancestors"

Melvin Collier said...

Great article! As you indicated, I've personally seen the genealogy community become much more "cliquish" in the past 10 years. There are folk who have popped up on the scene, are embraced by "the clique", while the passionate folk, who have always been there and have clearly expressed a true passion for genealogy, as well as demonstrated expertise, are overlooked because they haven't tried to fit into "the clique". It's disheartening because I would have never imagined this, especially when genealogy has been such a life-changing journey for many of us who could care less about "cliques" and kissing azzes. We just wanna find our and other's ancestors! Angela, thanks for addressing this elitism that's rising in the genealogy community!

Lowcountry Africana said...

Ola Friends,
I'm coming in late on the conversation, had my head down in some work this week and missed the conversation as it unfolded.

I don't think I could add anything that others have not already said and eloquently. :0)

I love being a part of this community, where so many talented, driven and truly inspired researchers come together to meet and share.

Elitism and exclusion have no place in the vibrant space we share.

We must also extend a perennial welcome to new community members. Every new voice brings new life to the community and sometimes move it in brand new and creative directions that benefit us all.


Anonymous said...

An excellent post with some thoughtful insights. I'm not sure that elitism is the sole prerogative of the online FH community -I've seen exactly the same thing happen in FH societies which are more like clubs for those admitted to the inner circle. At least online you have the opportunity to learn from a wide range of people and to be part of the conversations -however you choose to do that.

Mavis said...

Very well said Angela!

I must admit that I never felt like part of a community when I started eons ago.

When I renewed the search in 2009 and began discovering this great online community, I really begin feeling a part of something.

I'm thankful for this.