Category Archives: What Sort of Genealogist Am I?

What Sort of Genealogist Am I?

Over the weekend, Jill Ball posted the question “What Sort of Genealogist Am I?” on GeniAus. I enjoyed reading her answers, which were based on both Thomas MacEntee’s Careers in Genealogy and Randy Seaver’s Genealogy Evangelist response, both published back in 2012, which is before I followed any blogs.

It is always a good thing to do a little self-reflection to measure past accomplishments and determine future paths, so I have decided to be next in line to answer the questions that Jill posed, based on Thomas’s categories.

1. Researcher – While many in the relatively (pun intended) new era of internet access consider themselves to be genealogy researchers because they collect relatives online, I began my own family history research back in 1979. I have climbed to the top drawers in county courthouses to retrieve records, tromped through mosquito-laden overgrown cemeteries hunting for gravestones and have traveled far and wide to talk to distant relatives and walk through ancestral neighborhoods. I also willing share all I have with those who contact me.

2. Author – To me, an author is a person who puts words together in a new, unique way. I am not an author in that sense, but am a compiler and writer of family history facts. I have had family history articles published in society journals. I have also compiled articles on Loyalist James Astle, John Whitmer of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky and Jacob Miller of Franklin County, Tennessee and their known descendants. I spent twenty years compiling data on the Williams family that originated in Cumberland County, Virginia. I self published that 150 page book, sold out all 70 copies that I had printed and made a whopping $1.47 profit on each book. We aren’t in it for monetary profits, are we??? I also donated copies of my works to the Family History Library and the DAR Library in Washington, DC.

3. Educator – I am a retired teacher and when we moved to Arizona, there was no local genealogical group here, so I started one through a local Welcome Club. Our first meeting was in September 2010 so we are approaching our fifth anniversary. I am the chairman/teacher of the group, which originally consisted of pretty much all beginners. They have blossomed in their own rights now as researchers and we have a good time talking over brick walls and other issues. I even create a handout, which is shared on Dropbox, before each monthly meeting. I am most definitely an educator!

4. Curator – A curator is “a keeper or custodian of a museum or other collection.” Hmm. I definitely am not a custodian of museum quality artifacts, but the “other collection” portion of the definition opens the door a bit. Because I was the only person interested in the family history, I became the custodian of Nammie’s rocking chair, Great Grandmother Annie’s Haviland china, Grandmother’s silverware and a priceless collection of old family photos. I see myself as the current custodian of these items and it is my responsibility to care for them and make sure they pass on to the next generation after me. So, yes, I would consider myself a curator.

5. Archivist – I am most definitely the family archivist. When family history questions come up, I am the one who is asked for an answer. If I don’t know off the top of my head, I delve into the many documents and other items in my family history collection for the answer.

6. Librarian – Except for the fact that I have built a small personal library of genealogically-themed books, I am not a librarian by training or trade.

7. Analyst – As with the “librarian” tag, I am not a trained analyst in terms of data interpretation, current trends or anything along those lines. When it comes to analyzing genealogical documents, though, I believe I have developed some great analytical skills through the years.

8. Marketer – Marketers promote products to the public. I would consider myself a not-for-profit marketer in terms of sharing ideas, trends and research with the public through this blog.

9. Retailer – I am not and never have been a vendor of any products, so this description doesn’t fit me at all.

10. Genealogy Evangelist – Randy Seaver added this term to Thomas’s original list of 9 facets of a genealogy career. I love this one! An evangelist helps spread the word about all the positive points of whatever product, idea, etc. I most definitely spread the word about what a terrific hobby genealogy is so this fits me to a T.

What about you? What sort of genealogist are you?