Hello all! As I have continued to work in the genealogy field, I am struck by a distinct dichotomy if find with folks I run into in this work. My disclaimer is that this is my observation and you may not have experienced this at all, but I have and I have enough times that I am curious about it.
Time and time again I run into two kinds of folks in genealogy.
First, and most often, I come across folks who are among the most helpful, open, accessible, and collegial of any I have worked with in any field. Folks will help me out with ideas, suggestions, research, names, etc. Some websites even flourish as a result of these wonderful volunteers, such as Find A Grave. I have found such good stuff there, I have volunteered myself as a photographer. If someone takes a photo for me, I feel the least I can do is fulfill some need for some one who does not live in my area.
I have been helped beyond measure on sites such as Delphi Forums and a couple of other community boards. I have received great help from folks on pay sites as well, such as myheritage.com (where I keep my family tree/website) and ancestry.com. The volunteers at OPC (Online Parish Clerks) in Cornwall have done amazing work for me too! I have gotten help from staff and volunteers at local societies beyond measure. Even been helped to the point of awe by total and complete strangers …. who then have often became friends and colleagues in genealogy.
In this first category are also the great individuals I come across. They are genealogy and family history folks who are more than willing to help out anyway they can! They offer information from their trees, suggestions, help with what they tried that worked … and often more importantly what they tried that did NOT work! All hours of the day, these folks give and offer help and information. A few turn out to be distant relatives, most do not, but all are willing, ready, and happy to help.
Additionally I have found many people on the other end of cold calls on the telephone, emails, or letters equally helpful! In my efforts to find my Vicha family home village, I sent out over 200 letters to anyone I could find in the Czech Republic with the Vicha surname. I got over 30 letters and emails back! Every one trying to help. It was amazing to me!
Equally helpful are the staff I have found at local libraries, archives, city halls, county offices, cemeteries, law offices, county and city courts, genealogy societies, museums, and funeral homes. Almost to a person they go above and beyond the call to help me out with my inquiries. If they can’t help, they sure do apologize for not being able to!
THEN I find the folks in category number two …. less often, but too often for me not to notice. This is made up of the group of what I have come to call “Genealogy Snobs“. More often than not, these tend to be the highly experienced folks who you think would be the most willing to help others who love genealogy. They act above us folks who are mere mortals in this work. These are the folks who ignore emails, letters, and other requests. For me they have a tendency to answer, when and if they do, with less than complete or open answers. These answers or posts are often dripping with sarcasm or demeaning language, especially I believe when they are addressing someone new to the field of family history. These are the folks who should be the most helpful, not the least! They should be the paragon of what is good in the genealogy community, not the worst! They should be down-to-earth! Not nose-in-the-air, prideful, arrogant, distant, and elitist. In my opinion they may need to remember that they, too, started out as a beginner one day! They should relish the fact that the field is growing in popularity. They seem to want it to be some closed club, open to only a select few who have some perceived entitlement to genealogy elitism.
The majority of us may not have names that are household words or are seen in the news, etc., but I believe that genealogy should be an open, inclusive, and accepting endeavor. It doesn’t all have to be free (I am not arguing that at all), but it sure should be a fraternity of like-minded individuals. Folks who are all after the same thing …. finding our families, finding our roots, and learning history.
I for one am focused on collegiality and not exclusiveness. Helpfulness, not elitism. Openness, not cliquishness.
Count on this site to be open and accessible. Down to earth and helpful to anyone. I plan on always being in the first category of genealogy folks!
Thanks for letting me vent!
Onward To Our Past!