Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"Genealogy in the 'Information Age': History's New Frontier?"

Mary Petty posted recently about the history of genealogy on the Transitional-Genealogists-Forum mailing list. Elizabeth Shown Mills responded to Mary's post by noting that

"...May I add that, if any are interested in pursuing the past vs. present vs. future of genealogy a bit further, they might be interested in the NGSQ paper, "Genealogy in the Information Age: History's New Frontier?" posted at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/articles/NGSQVol91Pg260-77-Genealogy&History.pdf . This originated as NGS's centennial address, but grew before NGSQ published it."

I heartily recommend this article to every genealogy researcher and family historian. ESM essentially tells us how genealogy research has related to historical research over several centuries, and demonstrates that the relationship has not been wonderful over time (but seems better now).

My reply to Elizabeth's post included

"...we need to know our history so that we don't make the same mistakes in whatever we do - our own research, writing and publishing, doing client research and in our societies.

"Even though it [the article] was written in 2003, I found it interesting that there was scarce mention of the use of the Internet to socially network with other researchers, bring self-publishing to anybody with a keyboard, and open access to original source material to everybody online with a checkbook. The times have changed, haven't they?

"Many of us self-identify ourselves as 'Family Historians;' this article suggests 'Generational Historians'" would be a better definition and makes an excellent case for the designation."

I really appreciate that Elizabeth provided a link to this article and I encourage all genealogy researchers and fmaily historians to read it, understand it and learn from it. It should be "must reading" for all of us.

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