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.

 

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