Family History Research

Joining the “Us vs Them” Discussion

on April 20, 2011

This week many blogs are talking about the “Us vs Them” concept in the genealogy world. Bloggers who blog for fun and those who want to make a few bucks off their blog. Genealogists who move from hobbyist to professional and what people think of this.

If you want to catch up on the conversation, here are a few blog posts I recommend:

There are many more posts out there so hop on Geneabloggers and read the comments.  So here is my take on the situation. These are my own personal experiences and opinions.

I started out as a hobbyist in 1996. Three years later I finished my BA in History and moved back to Chicago. I had great plans of going to grad school to get my Masters in History and teach and become a great Chicago genealogist. Well life took over and those dreams and goals were left in the dust. I still dreamt of becoming a professional genealogist but it wasn’t until last summer that it was possible to move forward on this and I finally decided it was time.

One of the leaders in the genealogical community, Thomas MacEntee, and I started talking in July. I really don’t even remember exactly how we got started but what I do remember is he was willing to share his vast knowledge about the profession and help get me started. He gave me advice on my new website, getting the business off the ground and more. He has been a constant source of encouragement and support and I consider him a mentor. I hope that as I move along in my career I can pay it forward  and provide as much support and encouragement as he has for me. More than being a mentor, we are also friends who have shared many personal stories about our lives. I am very blessed to have him as part of my life. I am also very proud of the work he has done for the community and for his business. He is an inspiration.

As I moved into the professional realm, many geneabloggers were there supporting my efforts. A pat on the back here, a word of encouragement, a sharing of experiences there. Any time I have asked another blogger about a class they took or a conference they attended or about a specific issue I was having, I got nothing but positive feedback whether the person was a professional or hobbyist. This is a very welcoming, supporting, loving community regardless of your level of experience.

I am a stay at home mom and have been for several years. I knew going into this that I would not make a lot of money, but something to add to our bank account was better than nothing. My business is made up research, now lecturing, and writing. I am expanding into house histories as another part of the business and hope to establish some relationships with companies needing document retrieval in the Chicago area. This is not making me a lot of money. About all it is doing right now is enabling me to attend some conferences away from home, take some genealogical courses I could not before, and throw a little money into savings. I do a lot of online writing for pay to supplement this too.  I have wandered into the affiliate marketing arena just a bit but really haven’t moved much because IL passed a law that made some companies, like Amazon, release all their IL affiliates. I wanted to see how the law and these other companies moved before I invest any other time in this arena.

I think the genealogical community should not look down on anyone who is trying to establish themselves as a professional and make a living. We should be supporting each other in our research and other endeavors.

What do you think?

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4 responses to “Joining the “Us vs Them” Discussion

  1. Jen,
    As always, I fully support what you are doing, and as I’ve noted in private correspondence I feel you are ‘doing it the right way.’ Thanks for sharing, and keep up the good work! ;-)

  2. Judy Webster says:

    I can really relate to the story of your genealogical journey – and although I am on the other side of the world, Thomas has also been an inspiration to me. I have been a ‘paid researcher’ since 1986, but I am very aware of the fact that I can learn a lot from ‘personal researchers’ (a.k.a. ‘hobbyists’). Every one of them has experience with sources or geographical areas about which I know nothing. My point of view is on Genealogy Leftovers.

  3. [...] “Joining the “Us vs Them” Discussion,” Family History Research [...]

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