Beware: Opinion of the author follows!
Here we go — again, again, again, and again!
The topic has reared its ugly head again, for what must be the 1,000,000th time!
Some bloggers are all over the insignificant issue of whether or not it is ‘genealogy’ or ‘family history’. Whether one is ‘proper’ and the other ‘improper’. If one is ‘accurate’ and one is ‘politically correct’ (which I really don’t get). UGH, double UGH, and TRIPLE UGH!
To me, and I realize everyone is entitled to their opinion, the answer is simply YES it is!
Oh, and really, it isn’t going to be resolved nor is it worth the time to try and convince anyone of using only one or the other. And if you are going to waste time on this … then be sure to argue where ‘ancestry’ fits in 🙂
When you think about it, there are a multitude of professions and hobbies where there are multiple words that folks use to define what they do.
- Doctor or physician?
- Veterinarian or animal doctor?
- Plumber or sanitary engineer?
- Writer or author?
- Yardman or lawnboy?
- Movie maker or videographer?
- Artist or painter?
I imagine you get the idea! Two words, same basic thing. Use either one and the person will get the idea of what you do.
Personally, I tend to use ‘family historian’ a whole lot more than I use ‘genealogist’. You see, when I am at some social gathering, if I am chatting with someone and I say I am a ‘genealogist’, most often they do the two-minute-two-step and get away from me as fast as they can. If I say I am a ‘family historian’ I far more often get questions about what I have found recently, why I like it, etc. It just seems to me that ‘family history’ is much more inviting and warm than ‘genealogist’.
Plus when I say I am a ‘family historian’ there is no confusion regarding what it is I do. On the other hand, I have had ‘genealogy’ confused by folks who thought I was a geologist, gemologist, one time a geography teacher for hire.
One additional reason I use ‘family history’ is that I have found time-and-again that using the word ‘genealogy’ really puts off younger folks when I talk to them. They find ‘family history’ much more inviting and nonthreatening, plus as my grandson informed me “genealogy sounds like a school subject. Yuck.”
As with any industry, we need to be careful about how and when we use the jargon of our work.
Sure we can look like we are really ‘hot stuff’ by spouting terms such as ‘enate’ and ‘agnate’ in general, cocktail party conversations. But we can also be more certain that we will be understood by far more people if we say ‘your mother’s family’ and ‘your father’s family’. We can use ‘pedigree’, but if you are talking to a dog owner, they might be thinking something far different than you unless you use ‘family tree’.
Granted there are times when industrial jargon can serve us well and in which arenas it is appropriate and, perhaps, even necessary. I doubt I would have been chosen to present at RootsTech 2014 or the GENEX 2014 Ohio Genealogical Society’s conference if I had used the term ‘family historian’ rather than ‘genealogist’. But actually, in my life, those times are fewer and farther apart than the times when ‘family history’ suits me just fine.
But as Dolores, my wonderful mother-in-law, God rest her soul, used to often say ‘to each his each’!
So in the spirit of Dolores, use which ever term you want to ….. but can we just quit the useless arguing over which is ‘right’?
Onward To Our Past®