Sunday, January 22, 2012
What is a Professional Genealogist?
Reading the blogs of some of my fellow genealogy bloggers on the 'Genealogy Paradigm Shift' was very enlightening, but I put it aside a few weeks ago and went about my own business. Read about "The Genealogy Paradigm Shift" at: http://michaelhait.wordpress.com/2011/12/16/the-genealogy-paradigm-shift-are-bloggers-the-new-experts/
What makes a professional? Is is someone that goes to school, gets a degree, gets a license or certification, and practices in their profession for several years. Being a student of history I know being a professional 100 years or so ago just entailed being in your profession for many years and experience made you the professional. I've never pretended to be a professional anything. I've wondered how I could become a professional genealogist, I've looked at the requirements and the application process. I've dismissed it for now as being too much work for me at this time - maybe when I retire. But since I've become a blogger I've learned about a lot of new ideas from the genealogy blogging community. And lately I've come to a realization - I've been going to school all my life. I've been using my experience all my life. I've practiced family history all my life, maybe not genealogy, but 'family history' from my family.
From the school of life I've learned from my parents and grandparents about my family history and how important it is to carry this down to our descendants. Maybe that's what sparked my interest in anything to do with history. I've taken classes on history of cultures (anthropology), history of the earth (geology), history of the solar system (astronomy), art history, world history, U. S. history, and even a class on political history (third world politics). Not realizing it, all these have helped me as a genealogist, or family historian, one way or another. I have been told by other genealogists that I must be a professional genealogist. Politely I say "no, just a genealogist." But now these blogs, on what it takes to be a professional or expert genealogist, have gotten me to thinking about reconsidering this new label. I don't think I'll ever truly label myself as a professional, but when I come across a newbie I automatically take on the role - I want to help educate them, teach them what things they have to do to become a good genealogist.
Now I've taken on a job as an Archivist in a small local historical society with absolutely no training in archival practices. Oh well, I'll have to fall back on the old 'school of life' lessons to get me through. From this realization - I've learned how to teach myself from the lessons of life - "physician, heal thyself."