Archive for the ‘Genealogy blogging’ Category

What’s up?

When I started this year I didn’t intend that my blog would go silent. I thought it would be business-as-usual, with at least a good though-provoking post every so often. Sadly, as the year went on, the posts got less and less frequent.

Rest assured, though, I am not disappearing—just reorganizing my priorities. I will try to continue to post as much as I can, but my efforts in the field of genealogy are being refocused.

Among some of the things I have been working on this year:

  • I taught at three major institutes, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (in January), the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research (in June), and the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (in July).
  • I have written several articles published in various journals: two in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (December 2012 and March 2013), one in the Maryland Genealogical Society Journal, and one in Chinook, the magazine of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Several other articles have been written and are pending publication, one of which even (gasp) involves research into my own family. Even more articles are in various stages of completion.
  • I have been assisting with the creation of the Southern Appalachians Genealogical Association. I am serving as Editor of the annual Journal. If any of my readers have an interest in the Southern Appalachians region, please join the society and consider writing for the Journal. The call for submissions is posted on their website.
  • You may have seen me on the Chris O’Donnell episode of Who Do You Think You Are? That was fun. I am also credited (though I do not appear on-screen) for my research in the Christina Applegate episode.
  • I have continued to serve my term on the Board of Directors for the Association of Professional Genealogists. I also served as Chapter Representative of Greater Philadelphia Area chapter of APG, helping with the chapter’s organization and incorporation into the APG—a process now complete! Unfortunately I will be stepping down from both of these positions next year.
  • This month, I was elected to a three-year term on the Board of Trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. I am looking forward to being able to contribute what I can in this position.
  • Supplementing my genealogical activities, I have also been taking several online courses to continue my own education in several subjects. Some of these relate indirectly to my work in genealogy; some do not. You may soon witness the incorporation of some of these topics into my educational offerings.
  • There are a few other projects I have been working on as well, but I am not at liberty to tell you about them yet. As soon as I can tell you, I will.

You might notice some trends.

When I first began my career as a professional genealogist, I wanted to focus on two things: writing/publishing and promoting higher standards for research. Over the years, in not wanting to turn down opportunities, I became involved in other endeavors. I spread myself too thin. So this year I decide to reassess my career goals, and have been moving away from anything that did not further my goals. My new activities will (hopefully) continue to reflect these goals.

Be patient with me. I plan to soon regain some semblance of balance in posting to the blog. I may not post as often as I once did, but it should be more often than it has been recently.

Michael

Copyright, plagiarism, and citing your sources

UPDATE 13 March 2014: Apparently the posts referenced (and linked) in the SlideShare presentation bleow have been removed. Though the offending party has started a new blog, it does not appear that the posts based on my content have also been migrated to the new site (yet). MH

The Code of Ethics of the Association of Professional Genealogists contains two similar statements:

[I therefore agree to:]

2. . . . fully and accurately cite references. . . .

4. . . . refrain from knowingly violating or encouraging others to violate laws and regulations concerning copyright. . . .[1]

At first glance these two issues seem to say more or less the same thing. “Cite your sources”—a refrain I have often repeated in this blog and elsewhere.

There are, however, two separate issues at play here: one of documentation, the other of attribution.

Documentation is ultimately a good research practice, but not necessarily an ethical issue. Is it unwise to jot down that birth date on your family group sheet without noting the death certificate making the claim? Of course it is. One will quickly regret not citing the sources for information. Is it unethical not to cite that death certificate? I’m not so sure that it is.

Violating copyright laws, on the other hand, is definitely unethical (and illegal). Plagiarizing someone else’s work is unethical. Quoting someone else’s work without attribution is unethical. Even copying large portions of someone else’s work with attribution is unethical. For those of us who make a living from our intellectual property, plagiarism and copyright violation quite literally constitute theft.

There simply is no legal or ethical way to copy someone else’s intellectual property. “Fair use” does not allow wholesale copying, despite what one might think–even with a citation of the source. Without attribution, any copying whatsoever  is unacceptable.

Copyright violation and plagiarism have been discussed quite a bit among genealogists lately. Rather than repeat all of the information, I will simply provide this list of recent articles on the subject, most by authors far more knowledgeable on the subject than myself. If you write content for a blog or website or society newsletter or anywhere else as part of your genealogical career, please take the time to educate yourself on this subject.

The following posts all involve recent cases alleging copyright:

Edited to add the following two additional links:

SOURCES:

[1] “Code of Ethics,” Association of Professional Genealogists (http://www.apgen.org/ethics/index.html : accessed 6 July 2013).

Genealogy organizations: what have you done for me lately?

On 9 January 2013, Amy Coffin posted “Mind the Gap: Comparing Genealogy Associations to Other Info-Based Groups” in her We Tree Genealogy Blog. The post referred back to a blog post written by the CEO of the Special Libraries Association (SLA), “SLA in 2012: Laying the Groundwork for an Essential Association.” I would invite all of my readers to read both posts, as well as the comments on “Mind the Gap.”

Amy wrote that genealogy organizations should look to the organizations of other fields, such as SLA, for inspiration in meeting their members’ needs.

Though I am a member of no less than six state genealogical societies, a few more historical societies, and a handful of county societies, I am only on the Board of Directors of one organization—which is also a professional organization in the same vein as the SLA. Of course I mean the Association of Professional Genealogists.

Quite honestly, while the CEO of SLA used a lot of inspiring catchphrases, I cannot see what actions the organization has taken that could be implemented by APG or any other organization as an improvement. A “vision” without action to back it up is mere fantasy.

Amy made a comment that resonated with me: “Why is APG membership essential to my development?”

For me, the answer is simple: The APG membership itself is essential. By this, I mean the members, individually and collectively. The knowledge of local history, repositories, records, etc., of  members of APG is the greatest genealogical resource in the world, in my opinion. Learning from these members–not just in a classroom or lecture hall, but through one-on-one discussion–has been the single most important factor in my genealogical education.

To bring this perspective back to the discussion at hand: Amy and several other commentors mentioned several things that APG should be doing better.

APG (and other genealogy organizations) are volunteer-run membership organizations. They rely on the hard work of volunteers. So, in essence, “they” are us.

When a genealogist says, “XYZ County Genealogical Society doesn’t provide any essential services or products to me, so I didn’t renew,” there is a distinct, discernible belief that “the Society” must be a provider to its members.

The reverse is closer to the truth.

There is no “Society” without the work of its members. If you, as a member, are just sitting around waiting for “them” to give you something, then you will probably be disappointed. As a member, you should be contributing–whether it be as an officer or on a committee or even just something as simple as writing an article for the newsletter.

What societies do provide to their members rests solely on the backs of other members who are willing to volunteer their time, energy, and hard work to making the society better. The members who contribute nothing but complain that nothing is being done are the biggest problem with societies. There can be no “take” without someone “giving.”

I recognize that time is limited, and not everyone has free hours to contribute. But the dues that members pay themselves help to keep the electricity in the library on, or purchase new books, or pay for a speaker to present. Just by maintaining your membership, you are contributing. And if you suddenly find yourself with a free weekend, maybe you can spend some time organizing or indexing the vertical files, or writing an article for the newsletter, or baking cookies for the next meeting, or filling some other need.

Genealogy organizations, including APG, exist through the efforts of volunteers. Members can either complain about the problems, or work to change them.

My choice to do the latter is why I sit on the Board of Directors of APG and several committees, as well as paying dues to all of the societies of which I am a member.

Looking Back on ’12, Forward to ’13

The New Year always brings reflection. Since I started this blog, I have used it as a way to gauge my professional progress. You can read about my goals from previous years in these earlier posts:

In last year’s post, I set a few goals for myself. Let’s see how I managed to meet them (or not):

1. Continue to design new presentations. . . .

This was a great year for presenting. I did two all-day workshops in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in March, and in Germantown, Tennessee, in May. I also spoke at the National Genealogical Society Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, in May. And in June I delivered five lectures at the Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research in Birmingham, Alabama. I also delivered several individual lectures in Philadelphia and at several societies in Maryland and Delaware.

As for 2013, first up is the Maryland Genealogy Crash Course for Family Tree University on January 10. From January 14 through January 18, I will be on the faculty at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, co-teaching Course 8: Producing a Quality Family Narrative, with John Philip Colletta, Ph.D., FUGA, presenting two lectures in Thomas MacEntee’s Course 6: A Genealogist’s Guide to the Internet Galaxy, and delivering an evening lecture, “What is a ‘Reasonably Exhaustive Search’?.”

Then in June, I will again be on the faculty of the Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research, with three lectures in Course 3: Research in the South, Part II: Cessions & Territories, and one lecture in Course 6: Professional Genealogy. On July 17 I will be conducting another webinar for Legacy Family Tree, “Research in the Old Line State: An Overview of Maryland Genealogy.” From July 21 through July 26 John Philip Colletta and I will be teaching “Your Immigrant Ancestors’ Stories: Writing a Quality Narrative” at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh.

I hope to see some of you in the coming year!

2. Complete some books that have been sitting on my shelf. . . .

Nope, still didn’t get them finished. Maybe I’ll have time in 2013.

3. Finish my updated edition of Online State Resources for Genealogy. . . .

I finished the updated edition in August, with both a PDF and an EPUB edition (which still has some bugs). With the book growing each year, it will take longer and longer to check the links and add new resources. I believe that an annual update will be a more realistic goal, especially considering my other projects. Expect a new edition sometime this summer.

4. Get started on some new books. . . .

I have started the series, and expect that I will be able to get at least the first volume (maybe more) finished this year.

5. Have an article accepted for publication in an academic journal. . . .

I had two articles published in the Maryland Genealogical Society Journal in 2012 and my first article will be published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly in the upcoming December 2012 issue. I have a little more research to do for the article I intend for The Genealogist, but I have already started writing the Maryland Historical Magazine article.

6. Get better at time management. . . .

My time management has improved slightly. Still want to be more productive in 2013.

7. Write some magazine articles. . . .

I had a much slower year in magazines in 2012. I did have an article published in Family Chronicle, an article in the National Genealogical Society Magazine, and two articles in the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly.

8. Submit to genealogy writing competitions. . . .

In April I learned that I had won first prize in the National Genealogical Society Family History Writing Contest! It was such a tough competition that they actually chose two winners, myself and F. Warren Bitner, CG. I would like to take this time to congratulate Warren as well, whom I have finally gotten to know a little bit at the 2012 national conferences.

I didn’t enter any other competitions in 2012, so on that end I failed, but here’s looking forward to the future. :)

9. Attend the new Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. . . .

Sadly, after being away from home, out of state, for eight weekends in a row̶–̶̶from the 2012 NGS Conference through the Institute of Genealogy & Historical Research at Samford University–I simply had to rest. But, while I did not attend the Institute in 2012, I will be attending in 2013. I am actually going to be on the faculty, teaching the course “Your Immigrant Ancestors’ Stories: Writing a Quality Narrative” with coordinator John Philip Colletta, Ph.D., FUGA.

10. Find some time to research my family for a change!

Not as much as I may have liked. But I have been getting some of my research written into at least one article that I hope to submit to the New York Genealogical & Biographical Record later this year. Maybe I’ll be able to write more than one. If I start writing articles on my previous research on my own and my wife’s families, I could potentially have articles in journals of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and South Dakota! This is a long-term project, though, so don’t expect too many in 2013.

I already have quite a bit planned for 2013, so I am not going to set any goals other than to renew the goals from 2012. Let’s see if I have any better luck this year.

Happy New Year!

Genealogy blogging for fun and profit

This post has been inspired by Thomas Macentee’s 2012 update to the 2011 “Genea-Opportunities” series of blog posts.[1] Longtime readers may recognize that it was this discussion that originally led to the birth of this blog in its current incarnation. The first topic Thomas has proposed for this week is “Genealogy Blogging – For Fun or Profit?”

I previously discussed the reasons for my own blogging in a post entitled, aptly enough, “Why do I blog? Why do you blog?” The reasons I expressed in that post remain relevant for me, but now I would also like to discuss the general nature of blogging as a professional genealogist.

There are a number of professional genealogists who have been blogging for many years. These blogs have different focuses and their own unique strengths and weaknesses–as do most blogs of any kind. But these blogs are also among some of the most read and recognizable blogs in genealogy.

In the past year or so, I have seen quite a few professional genealogists begin blogging. Part of this, I believe, is due to the “social media” mantra that is prevalent throughout every part of our lives in the 21st century. Businesses–especially small businesses–are expected to have a social media presence.

Unfortunately quite a few of these blogs are not born out of passion. And so they do not develop a voice. The writing is sporadic and doesn’t really say anything special. In other words, it is content marketing–without the content.

This blog has developed to have two main purposes: (1) to discuss important subjects in professional genealogy; and (2) to help educate genealogists toward performing professional-level research, even if genealogy for them is “just a hobby.”

Notice that I did not include a purpose (3) to help “drum up business.” Simply stated, I do not expect to bring in research clients through this blog. It has occasionally happened, but that is not among my reasons for writing. I write because I am passionate about it–I am passionate about genealogy and passionate about writing.

For my fellow professional genealogists, I would offer this advice: If you would not otherwise have any interest in blogging, do not do so just because someone says you should. You do need a website to compete in the online world, but that website does not need to have a lackluster blog. Your blog should be how you communicate your thoughts to the world. It should mean something to you, first and foremost. Write because you feel you have to do so, not because someone else says you have to do so.

Blogs can certainly be a source of income–through affiliate marketing (i.e. advertising) or through promoting your lectures or publications. I have been known to do both of these on occasion. But the revenue generated through these means is not much.

What do my fellow professional genealogists think?

SOURCES:

[1] Thomas MacEntee, “GENEA-OPPORTUNITIES – 2012 UPDATE,” Geneabloggers blog, posted 9 July 2012 (http://www.geneabloggers.com : accessed 9 July 2012). Thomas MacEntee, “GENEA-OPPORTUNITIES (LET’S MAKE LOTS OF MONEY),”  Geneabloggers blog, posted 18 April 2011.

If you would like to cite this post:

Michael Hait, CG, “Genealogy blogging for fun and profit,”Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession blog, posted 9 July 2012 (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com : accessed [access date]). [Please also feel free to include a hyperlink to the specific article if you are citing this post in an online forum.]

Blogs by Board-certified genealogists

According to the Geneabloggers website, there are currently over 2500 blogs.

In an effort to recognize the work of those who have achieved the Certified Genealogist(sm) credential awarded by the Board for the Certification of Genealogists, I would like to present this list of blogs by Board-certified genealogists. The broad range of topics discussed in these blogs shows the range of interests and specialties that credentialed genealogists pursue.

Not all of these authors are professional genealogists. Not all of them conduct research for clients. Yet all of these authors share a dedication to upholding the high standards of research proscribed by the Board.

Claire Ammon, CG, Once Upon A Time in New Haven (http://www.claireammon.com/once-upon-a-time-in-new-haven/)

Susan Farrell Bankhead, CG, Susan’s Genealogy Blog (http://www.susansgenealogyblog.com/)

Karen Miller Bennett, CG, Karen’s Chatt (http://www.karenmillerbennett.com/)

Amy Johnson Crow, CG, Amy Johnson Crow blog (http://www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/blog/)

Catherine Becker Wiest Desmarais, CG, No Stone Unturned (http://www.stonehouseresearch.com/blog/)

Jay H. Fonkert, CG, Four Generations Genealogy (http://fourgenerationsgenealogy.blogspot.com/)

Ladonna Garner, CG, The Leafseeker (http://blog.leafseeker.com/)

Linda Woodward Geiger, CG, Anamnesis: Musings by Linda (http://www.musingsbylinda.com/anamnesis/)

Linda Woodward Geiger, CG, Musings by Linda: My Family Research (http://www.musingsbylinda.com/MyFamily/)

Linda Woodward Geiger, CG, Musings by Linda: North Georgia Families (http://www.musingsbylinda.com/NorthGeorgia/)

Myra Vanderpool Gormley, CG, Shaking Family Trees (http://shakingfamilytrees.blogspot.com/)

Michael Hait, CG, Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com)

Jean Wilcox Hibben, CG, Circlemending: Completing the Family Circle (http://circlemending.blogspot.com/)

Melanie D. Holtz, CG, Finding Our Italian Roots (http://italiangenealogyroots.blogspot.com/)

Cecile Wendt Jensen, CG, Michigan Polonia (http://www.mipolonia.net/)

Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog (http://wkygenealogy.blogspot.com/)

Polly Kimmitt, CG, PollyBlog (http://pk-pollyblog.blogspot.com/)

Rachal Mills Lennon, CG, Finding Southern Ancestors: A Blog (http://www.findingsouthernancestors.com/blog1.html)

Connie Lenzen, CG, Connie’s comments about genealogy and family (http://connie-lenzen.blogspot.com/)

J. Mark Lowe, CG, Keeping the Story Alive (http://keepingthestoryalive.blogspot.com/)

J. Mark Lowe, CG, Kentucky & Tennessee Stories (http://kytnstories.blogspot.com/)

Barbara J. Mathews, CG, The Demanding Genealogist (http://demandinggenealogist.blogspot.com/)

Brenda Dougall Merriman, CG, Brenda Dougall Merriman blog (http://brendadougallmerriman.blogspot.com/)

Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, Evidence Explained: QuickLessons (http://www.evidenceexplained.com)

Donald W. Moore, CG, Antecedents (http://antecedents.wordpress.com/blog/)

Anne Morddel, CG, The French Genealogy Blog (http://french-genealogy.typepad.com/)

Judy G. Russell, CG, The Legal Genealogist (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog/)

Craig R. Scott, CG, As Craig Sees It (http://crssays.blogspot.com/)

Craig R. Scott, CG, Stump Craig (http://stumpcraig.blogspot.com/)

Christine Sharbrough, CG, Genealogy in 2012 – The Next Generation (http://genealogy2012.wordpress.com/)

Christine Sharbrough, CG, Cyrus E. Dallin, American Renaissance Sculptor (http://cyrusedallin.wordpress.com/)

Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, Paula’s Genealogical Eclectica (http://paulastuartwarren.blogspot.com/)

Cath Madden Trindle, CG, CSGA Copyright: Copyright Issues for the 21st Century Genealogical Community (http://csgacopyright.wordpress.com/)

Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, Deb’s Delvings in Genealogy (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/)

Notable Genealogy Blog Posts, 22 January 2012

The following recent blog posts are those that I consider important or notable. Unlike other similar blog lists, I cannot guarantee that they will all be from the past week. (Some weeks I simply do not have time to read any blogs.) But I will try to write this on a fairly regular basis.

Kris Hocker, “How to Use the Online Land Records at the PA State Archives,” /genealogy blog, posted 3 January 2012 (http://www.krishocker.com : accessed 21 January 2012). Kris provides extremely useful information about accessing the warrants, surveys, patents, and other land records that have been digitized by the Pennsylvania State Archives.

Marian Pierre-Louis, “APG Membership Becomes More Valuable,” Marian’s Roots and Rambles blog, posted 16 January 2012 (http://rootsandrambles.blogspot.com : accessed 21 January 2012). The Association of Professional Genealogists is the only organization supporting genealogy as a profession in the United States. So far in 2012, several new programs sponsored by the APG have already been introduced. As Marian states, APG membership is definitely becoming more valuable.

Barbara Matthews, “Three adjectives to be used with the word genealogist,” The Demanding Genealogist blog, posted 15 November 2011 (http://demandinggenealogist.blogspot.com : accessed 21 January 2012). This blog helps to clear up some of the confusion over terminology used for genealogists themselves. Instead of making the primary distinction “hobbyist” vs. “professional,” Barbara promotes the use of “avocational” for those genealogists who do not get paid, “professional” for those who do get paid, and “scholarly” for those who produce quality research–regardless of whether one does or does not get paid. Fantastic post!

The Geneabrarian [pseudonym], “Eliminating the Hobby from Genealogy,” The Geneabrarian Reference Desk blog, posted 6 January 2012 (http://geneabrarian.blogspot.com : accessed 21 January 2012).  This is one of the most important posts I have read in some time. The Geneabrarian observes that the characterization of genealogical research as “just a hobby,” is detrimental to the perception of the field. This can actually hurt us tremendously when it comes to library funding and records access. Whether you are a professional genealogist or an avocational genealogist, we must stop calling genealogy a hobby!

The Geneabrarian [pseudonym], “In Defense of the Field: The Study of Genealogy Does Matter,” The Geneabrarian Reference Desk blog, posted 13 January 2012 (http://geneabrarian.blogspot.com : accessed 21 January 2012). The Geneabrarian follows up the post mentioned above with this one: another step toward improving the perception of genealogy and genealogists. She draws upon her experience as a trained librarian and archivist, as well as a lifelong genealogical researcher.

Please feel free to add links to other notable blog posts in the comments of this post.

 

Publishing: Why Typography Matters

I will admit that I am only a recent convert to typographic concerns. Until the middle of last year, I was content with everything being Times New Roman, size 12, single-spaced in Microsoft Word. It took constant prodding from a good friend of mine, a fellow professional genealogist, who also has a background in design, to make me see the light.

Readers don’t notice design. They don’t notice typography. But if it is bad, they won’t read. And what is the point of spending the time to write a book or an article or a blog or a webpage, if no one wants to read it?

As I have noted before when discussing presentations, design can have a direct effect on learning. People are less likely to learn from a poorly-designed medium. This is no less true for a family history book, society newsletter, or blog than it is for a PowerPoint presentation. It just seems to be discussed less by those of us self-publishing, whether it be a society publication, a family history for a private audience, or a book of abstracts.

The image on this blog post coins an adage: “Good typography is invisible. Bad typography is everywhere.”

Of course, there is also an opposing viewpoint. In a 2010 study Princeton University researchers conclude that learning in a print medium may actually benefit from horrible typography. The theory is that print material set in ugly typefaces force readers to concentrate harder to read the material, and therefore they retain more of the information. Read “Hideous fonts may boost reading comprehension,” for more information.

Regardless of your opinion on the subject, one thing is certain: typography matters. Pay attention the next time you read a book, journal, or newsletter. What do you think of the font, line spacing, character spacing, etc.? Does the typography add to or detract from the readability of the material? Does it add to or detract from your ability to understand the material you are reading?

SOURCES:

Adam Christopher, “9th February, 2011: Typography matters,” Adamchristopher.co.uk blog, posted 9 February 2011 (http://www.adamchristopher.co.uk : accessed 14 January 2012).

C. Diemand-Yauman, et al., “Fortune favors the Bold (and the Italicized): Effects of disfluency on educational outcomes,” Cognition (2010); (http://web.princeton.edu/sites/opplab/papers/Diemand-Yauman_Oppenheimer_2010.pdf : accessed 14 January 2012).

Laura Miller, “Hideous fonts may boost reading comprehension,” Salon web magazine, posted 18 January 2011, under topic “Readers and Reading” (http://www.salon.com/topic/readers_and_reading : accessed 14 January 2012).

My last word on GeneaBlogging and the Paradigm Shift

I knew when I posted “The Genealogy Paradigm Shift: Are bloggers the new ‘experts’?” that it might push some buttons. The piece was heavily edited, and it sat on the shelf for almost two months before I decided to post it.

What I did not realize is that the most controversial part of my post would be the last paragraph:

The online genealogy community needs to recognize [that blogs are public]. We need to join the genealogy community as a whole. … Treat your blog the way you would treat anything else done publicly. Put your best face forward. You don’t have to change your voice to sound professional, or anything like that. But at least cite the sources that you discuss in your blog post. Try to learn new techniques and apply them to your research, then write about what you learned. Not only will your ancestors thank you for that, but so will those new genealogists who look to your blog for guidance.[1]

Surprisingly, other bloggers felt that some of this crossed a line. The primary objection was raised by Marian Pierre-Louis in her post “Genre and Genealogy“: that blogs are aimed at a different audience than a scholarly journal, so citations are not necessary.[2]

I would like to respond to these sentiments.

First, I do recognize that there are many different reasons that people blog. For some, a blog is a way to tell stories that their grandmother told them. How do you cite that? You don’t, because you are the source. For others, a blog is a way to communicate back and forth with your genea-buddies. No citation needed for your own opinion.

However, if you are using your blog to report on your research, in my opinion, you should be citing your sources.

I am not the first person to suggest that genealogy bloggers cite the sources that they use. In fact, this subject seems to come up every year. Unfortunately, the geneablogging community decides almost every year that citing sources in a blog post is unnecessary.

I am definitely not one of the genealogy bloggers who believes this. You will see my sources in every post I write.

Thomas Macentee of Geneabloggers has led at least two separate initiatives on the subject of citing your sources.

In the first initiative, in March and April 2009, I believe that Thomas was trying very hard to convince other bloggers of the importance of citations. He even went to the trouble of writing a “Genealogy Source Citations Quick Reference” card, and a post about how to use HTML code to superscript numbers and add hyperlinks to source citations within blog posts. See below for the posts that I could find during this spring 2009 push:

You can find the “Genealogy Source Citation Quick Reference” card at http://hidefgen.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Citations_Quick_Reference.pdf.

In the last of the posts listed above, Thomas expressed the following sentiments:

Always looking to convert a difficult situation into a win for the geneablogger community, I started Cite Rite a source citation initiative since the lack of citations in genealogy blog posts seemed to be at the heart of the issue with Mr. Duxbury’s distate for genealogy blogs.  In addition, I created the Genealogy Source Citation Quick Reference card to educate new genealogists and geneabloggers on the importance of source citation.[3]

The comments to these posts show that several bloggers already cited their sources, and others were beginning to do the same.

In the fall of 2010, a discussion on citing sources in blog posts again occurred, inspired by a post entitled “Bloggers Should Set An Example” by Martin Hollick in his former blog, The Slovak Yankee. Unfortunately, this post no longer appears to be available online. Martin notes on his website: “[this blog] once had over 1,000 posts, but I removed all posts that I thought were opinionated and left those that were pure genealogy, some 600 posts.”[4]

Thomas posted twice on the subject of source citations during this fall 2010 initiative:

Both the tone of the comments and the outcome from this discussion was vastly different than in the earlier one. It was apparent that the “geneablogging community” had spoken, and citations were a no-go for most bloggers. Whereas in 2009 Thomas provided new resources for helping bloggers cite their sources, in August 2010 he provided the graphic seen here.

To me, this is not progress.

I want to be clear that I am using Thomas as an example in this post because he is a leader in the geneablogging community. I am not picking on him at all. I know that he does use source citations in his own research. Most of his blog posts in Geneabloggers do not contain any facts that would need citations.

More experienced genealogists always talk about “if I only I knew … when I first started doing genealogy.” One of the most common phrases is “if I only I knew to cite my sources back then.” With more and more new genealogists coming into contact with and learning from blogs, wouldn’t we be doing them a favor by telling them, “Hey! Cite your sources!” and showing them how (or at least practicing what we preach)? Ten or twenty years from now, they won’t have to look back and say, “if only I knew.” Because they would  know.

How many genealogy bloggers believe that we should cite sources in our research? How many of us painstakingly add citations to our Rootsmagic, Family Tree Maker, or Legacy Family Tree databases using their citation templates? Shouldn’t we practice what we preach? Why is there a double standard?

What’s the difference between saying “my blog doesn’t need citations–it’s just for fun, it’s not a scholarly journal” and saying “my research doesn’t need citations–it’s just for fun, I’m not a professional”? The slope may be slippier than you think.

It’s true, bloggers. You are in control of your blogs, and it is your decision whether or not you want to cite your sources. I hope that even one of you will read one of these posts and decide to start.

SOURCES:

[1] Michael Hait, CG, “The Genealogy Paradigm Shift: Are bloggers the new ‘experts’?,” Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession blog, posted 16 December 2011 (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com : accessed 5 Jan 2012).

[2] Marian Pierre-Louis, “Genre and Genealogy,” Marian’s Roots & Rambles blog, posted 27 December 2011 (http://rootsandrambles.blogspot.com : accessed 5 Jan 2012).

[3] Thomas Macentee, “In Defense of Genealogy Blogs,” Geneabloggers blog, posted 4 Apr 2009 (http://www.geneabloggers.com : accessed 5 Jan 2012).

[4] Martin Hollick, “April Fool’s,” The Slovak Yankee blog, posted 1 April 2011 (http://mhollick.typepad.com/slovakyankee : accessed 5 Jan 2012).

If you would like to cite this post:

Michael Hait, CG, “My last word on GeneaBlogging and the Paradigm Shift,” Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession blog, posted 6 January 2012 (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com : accessed [access date]). [Please also feel free to include a hyperlink to the specific article if you are citing this post in an online forum.]

Looking Back on ’11, Forward to ’12

New Year’s Day is a time for reflection on the past, and a time for assessing one’s goals and future plans.

Since I started this blog, I have used it as a way to gauge my professional progress. You can read about my goals from previous years in these earlier posts:

Last year I did not set public goals for myself. I think I meant to do so, but somehow neglected to write the post. Due to this neglect, I will instead note some of my accomplishments in 2011, and set some goals for myself in 2012. (Much more like what I did in the first post above, for 2009/2010.)

I am a bit taken back when I look at what I have accomplished this past year. I managed so much more than I imagined possible a year ago. In no particular order, these are some of the accomplishments of which I am personally most proud:

1. At the end of January 2011, I published the ebook Online State Resources for Genealogists. Within less than a week I had sold about 200 copies, which is far more than I expected. I originally planned to have an update prepared by mid-summer, but this has not yet been completed. I will be working hard this month to have the update finished by the end of January.

2. Also in January, I was reelected to another 2-year stint as Vice-President of the National Capital Area Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists.

3. In March I completed the 18-month ProGen Study Group educational program. This was very helpful in networking with other “transitional” genealogists over the course of the program. We all certainly learned a lot from each other, and from our mentor J. Mark Lowe, CG.

4. Though I was unable to attend the National Genealogical Society’s annual conference in Charleston, South Carolina, in May, it was still a momentous occasion for me. It marked the debut of my publication Genealogy at a Glance: African American Genealogy Research (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2011), and the announcement of the winners of the 2010 International Society of Family History Writers & Editors Excellence in Writing Competition. My article, “Learning from Genealogical Failure,” won 1st Prize in the “Newspaper Columns” category.

5. In May, amid a very active blogging discussion concerning professional genealogy, I renamed, revamped, and relaunched this blog. It was originally called “Tricks of the Tree” when I started blogging in 2008, but my blogging was sporadic at best: 7 posts in 2008, 19 posts in 2009, and just 4 posts in 2010. Since the relaunch as “Planting the Seeds” in May, I have written 123 posts!

6. In June I again attended the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University (Birmingham, Alabama), completing Elizabeth Shown Mills’s “Advanced Methodology & Evidence Analysis” course.

7. In July 2011 I achieved my primary professional goal by becoming a Certified Genealogist(sm) through the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

8. From May through October I worked with the National Park Service researching a community of slaves that once lived on Monocacy National Battlefield. The results of my research are currently being developed into an exhibit that will debut in January 2012, and research is expected to continue in 2012 and 2013.

9. In November the Association of Professional Genealogists announced that I had been elected to the APG Board of Directors, for the Southeast Region for 2012-2013.

10. At the end of November I published my first instructional book, aimed at genealogical lecturers: Show ‘N’ Tell: Creating Effective and Attractive Genealogy Presentations. Unlike my previous self-published books, this book does not contain transcriptions or indexes of record sources. Completing the writing was a major accomplishment for me.

And now my goals for 2012:

1. Continue to design new presentations. I already have quite a few presentations scheduled for 2012, including two lectures at the 2012 National Genealogical Society annual conference, and four lectures at the 2012 Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University. I have all-day workshops of four lectures each scheduled in Oklahoma and Tennessee, and single lectures scheduled in Maryland and Pennsylvania. I also have two webinars for Legacy Family Tree scheduled, and an appearance on the “Research at the National Archives and Beyond” Internet radio show with host Bernice Bennett on BlogTalkRadio.com. However, I would like to create more new presentations, so that I am not merely giving the same presentations over and over again. (You can see all of my currently scheduled future engagements using the Calendar in the right sidebar.)

2. Complete some books that have been sitting on my shelf. I have made significant progress on several books, but have not yet finished them. One of them contains transcriptions of Civil War draft exemptions in Baltimore city, Maryland. Other subjects include St. Mary’s County, Maryland, tax papers, and Prince George’s County, Maryland, estate inventories. All of these books have been sitting on my shelf.

3. Finish my updated edition of Online State Resources for Genealogy. I have made significant progress to this end, but I really want to take a few days and get this update finished. This involves not only adding new resources, but also a redesign. I also want to make an edition to be used in e-readers. While I am at it, I would also like to make the updates semiannual rather than annual (so hopefully another update in June or July).

4. Get started on some new books. I have a series of books in mind that I have barely started working on, but I really need to hanker down and hammer them out. I won’t reveal the subject of this series yet, but I believe that it will be greatly appreciated when complete.

5. Have an article accepted for publication in an academic journal. I have two case studies that I am writing up for the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, and another that I intend for The Genealogist. I also have an article in mind for a historical journal, probably the Maryland Historical Magazine. In 2012 I would really like to dedicate myself to completing and submitting these articles.

6. Get better at time management. A few months ago, I created a simplified weekly schedule that would provide time for research and writing. So far I have not kept it for even a single week. I really need to get better at this–I am just not very organized when it comes to spending my time productively.

7. Write some magazine articles. I would really like to publish more magazine articles this year than I did in 2011. The popular magazines have room for less advanced descriptions of records and research methodology. I have also been considering writing an article on genealogy (in general) for a non-genealogy magazine. I have not yet decided which magazine would be best.

8. Submit to genealogy writing competitions. There are several writing competitions happening this year. If I can actually write enough entries, I would love to enter them all!

9. Attend the new Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. Registration for GRIP opens in February 2012. The Institute will be held from Sunday, 22 July 2012 through Friday, 27 July 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I am particularly interested in the course “Advanced Research Methods” taught by Thomas W. Jones, Claire Bettag, and Rick Sayre.

10. Find some time to research my family for a change! After all, this is why I got into this mess in the first place. :)

Happy New Year!

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