Archive for the ‘Genealogy Career Options’ Category

What is a professional genealogist?

I recently read two blog posts that inspired this post.

The first was “Why I Want to Remain an Amateur” at Greta’s Genealogy Blog. This is an absolutely wonderful post. Greta loves genealogy research, and desires to develop her research skills and abilities as much as possible, but has no desire to be paid for her genealogical activities. This post explains why not.

The second post was not new, but came through yesterday on Twitter. “APG at a Crossroads,” written by Mary E. Petty at the Heirlines blog. Ms. Petty, with her husband James W. Petty, AG, CG, run the “HEIRLINES Family History & Genealogy” professional genealogical research firm, based in Salt Lake City, Utah. This post was originally written in 2006, but continues to be promoted, as its appearance on Twitter yesterday attests.

This post begins,

I think the Association of Professional Genealogisis (APG) is at a crossroads – they have to decide what master they serve. Either the hobbyist: the self designated part -timer, and / or full timer; or the career practitioner: the professionally designated genealogist, qualified by the “professional’s only” track (professional genealogy education, training, experience, credentials, membership, continuing education, standardized business best practices with licensing and ethics) to serve the public as a professional genealogist?

Right now all of these groups are trying to have a piece of the consumer pie and this does not meet the number one objective of a professional business membership organization – to support the qualified practitioners and set standardized best practices, ethics, methodology, business standards etc, and behaviors to protect the qualified practitioner and the consumer.[1]

I strongly object to two points Ms. Petty raises:

(1) She asserts that only those genealogists who follow what she deems a “‘professional’s only’ track,” including “professional genealogy education, training, experience, credentials, membership, continuing education, standardized business best practices with licensing and ethics” are qualified to be considered professional genealogists. She specifically notes throughout the post that she defines a professional genealogist quite narrowly as one who conducts genealogy research for clients as their full-time career. Implicitly this excludes those whose main source of income is writing, lecturing, or some other aspect of genealogy, or those who conduct research for clients on a much more limited basis. It also explicitly excludes “the self designated part-timer, and/or full-timer.”

(2) She asserts that the Association of Professional Genealogists exists only to serve these “qualified” (by her definition) practitioners.

Currently, only a single accredited university in the United States offers a Bachelor’s degree program in Family History: Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah. Perhaps not coincidentally the Family History Library is in Salt Lake City, Utah. With access to the microfilmed records at the Family History Library and the degree program at Brigham Young, it seems quite natural for genealogists in Utah to qualify as “professional genealogists” under Ms. Petty’s definition. On the other hand, for genealogists elsewhere in the country, is is not quite that easy. If a researcher has limited access to records, he or she has limited potential for earning income solely on client research.

I am a full-time professional genealogist. I conduct research for clients about half of my working time. The rest of the time I write, publish, lecture, teach, etc. One hundred percent of my household income stems from my genealogical activities. If I only conducted client research, I might not be able to feed my family. But my income is supplemented by other sources.

Many professional genealogists are not full-time. They may have a full-time career outside of the field of genealogy. They may be retired from another career, but choose to conduct client research on a limited basis simply because they enjoy it. They may choose to research their own families only, and not conduct client research at all. But they are skilled researchers who write and lecture prolifically in order to teach others.

All of these are professional genealogists.

According to Ms. Petty, the APG should only serve “qualified” full-time career researchers. She asks in this post, “Why are they [the APG] unwilling to set maintain and regulate the criteria for membership in their organization and set the standards for designation as a ‘Professional Genealogist’?” She compares professional genealogists to “beauticians, teachers, CPA, Lawyers, and other similarly licensed (government-regulated) or professions that are self regulated.”

Professional genealogists, as a career field, do not resemble any of these licensed or regulated career fields that Ms. Petty names. The field most like professional genealogy, in my opinion, is freelance writing.

One does not have to have a degree in English or journalism to be a freelance writer. One does not have to be credentialed to be a freelance writer. One does not have to write 40 hours a week, and nothing else, to be a freelance writer. One’s sole qualification to be a freelance writer is that one can do the job that they are hired or paid to do. You must be able to write at a high level. Some people may be able to do this with no training whatsoever. Others may need formal education. But your value as a professional is judged by the quality of the product of your work, not by any other factors.

Likewise, one does not have to have a degree in family history or even history to be a professional genealogist. Formal or informal genealogical education (be it BYU’s program, one of the Institutes, attendance at a national conference, or participation in a Continuing Education program) definitely helps one learn the best advanced research techniques, but there are other ways that one can do the same independently. A professional genealogist does not have to conduct client research full-time. A professional genealogist does not have to be credentialed.

Like a freelance writer, the sole qualification to be a professional genealogist should be that one is able to perform the job that one is hired or paid to do. One must be able to perform the research. A professional genealogist’s value as a professional should be judged by the quality of the product of your work.

The Association of Professional Genealogists may be at a crossroads. But not because it should be limiting who can join. The APG should continue its policies of inclusivity rather than exclusivity.

However, the field of professional genealogy is changing. APG must be able to balance its focus. Its membership does not only consist of full-time career professional genealogists conducting research for clients. The organization now contains authors, lecturers, librarians, and many others whose income either in whole or in part comes from a field relating to genealogy. It cannot allow any one faction to control its policies, but instead recognize the diversity of its membership, and serve all of our needs.

I believe that the APG has done a fairly good job at accomplishing this goal. There is room for improvement, but I think it is moving in the right direction. It must continue to do so, and not allow narrow minds to limit its influence in the field of genealogy.

Follow Friday: Professional genealogists websites

It is Follow Friday! This is a blogging meme in which authors recommend other blogs, websites, repositories, or anything else. In keeping with the theme of this blog, I will spotlight different resources for professional and aspiring professional genealogists each week: not only genealogy-related, but also others of interest.

Today I will not recommend one site, but many.

If you are a professional genealogist or an aspiring/transitional professional genealogist, you need to have a website. Above and beyond anything else, your website will be your #1 marketing tool. I can honestly say that no less than 90% of the research clients that I have had in my career have spent at least some time on my website. How do I know this? Because their initial email to me comes through the “Contact Me” form on my website.

When you are developing a website, look at the websites of other professional genealogists, especially those with long standing careers. What do you like and what don’t you like? How much information do you want to include on your website?

One of the best ways to see other researchers’ websites is to go look to the membership directory of the Association of Professional Genealogists. The APG website allows you to search for a researcher by name, location, research specialty, or geographic specialty, and many of the entries include links to the members’ professional websites.

Take a look at researchers similar to yourself, that is, those researching in a similar location, research specialty, or geographic specialty. After all, these researchers are your direct competition–though in the genealogical community, there is rarely animosity (and often cooperation) among competitors. All the same, a potential client looking for a researcher is as likely to find their website as yours. How can you make yourself stand out? It all starts with your website.

Below are a few examples of websites belonging to professional genealogists. There are both positive and negative aspects of all of them. Some are better than others. Some have great content, but lack in design. Some have great design, but little content. I am not espousing any of these researchers over any others, and cannot vouch for any of their research skills. Not all of these professionals accept research projects. Not all of them are members of the APG.

Still, take a look:

I had to slip that last one in. ;)

If you are a professional genealogist, please feel free to add your site in the comments (but please no advertising). What do you like most about these or other websites?

Turning your genealogy hobby into a career

Every professional genealogist I have ever met started out by researching their own family. I did. The most difficult part of becoming a professional is the transition – making the decision to turn your beloved hobby into a career.

Last week, I read an absolutely enlightening article about this very subject on the American Express Open Forum website. This website is highly recommended for all those considering entering the world of small business. In “4 Questions To Ask Before Turning A Hobby Into Your Career,” Rebecca Thebault considers some of the factors that should affect your decision. Ms. Thebault describes her transition from investment banking into a career as the owner of a bakery–something she loved to do!

Ms. Thebault recommends the following four questions:

“1. Are you realistic about what you’ll gain?”

Ms. Thebault recounts the story of returning to work days–not weeks or months–after delivering a child. I often joke about never sleeping. (Well, it’s kind of a joke.) Being “your own boss” is not easy. It is often not very fun. And you have to make all of the hard decisions yourself. As a small business owner, you will be 100% responsible for the success or failure of your business.

Another recommendation Ms. Thebault makes under this heading is to “Be realistic about how much time it will take to achieve your goals.” When I made the transition into the career as a full-time professional genealogist, I had enough money saved to pay my bills for several months. I barely made it. It is vital that you keep in mind just how long it may be before your business can support your goals.

I would also add that you have to think about what you’ll lose. I live 20 minutes from the beach, and though my wife and daughter go swimming at least once or twice a week in the summer months, I have not been swimming in over five years. I miss birthday parties, barbecues, and other social events on a regular basis. My top priority is keeping the business afloat, not having fun.

“2. Are you ready to start at the bottom?”

“You may be extremely good at your hobby, but when people start paying you for it, you’re subject to a new set of standards,” Ms. Thebault writes. This is an important distinction.

You may be great at researching your own family, but can you do the same thing when you no longer have access to the same “family knowledge” of recurring given names, oral history, photo albums, and “stuff Grandma told you”?

Do you know about the Genealogical Proof Standard and other accepted genealogical research standards?

Do you already know how to write a professional research report of your findings?

Create an educational plan. It is important that you continue to raise your own standards up to that of other professionals. This is done through continuous education.

You will want to join the Association of Professional Genealogists. You may also want to consider accreditation through ICAPGen or certification through the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

When you first begin to take clients, no one will know who you are. You will not have a reputation. It is your responsibility to change these facts.

“3. Do you really want your hobby to become your job?”

Ms. Thebault notes, “Hobbies are typically things you enjoy as a distraction from work, so what happens when your hobby is work? Will it make you enjoy your work more or your hobby less? Chances are it will lead to a little bit of both.” I couldn’t say it any better.

I must also add that I no longer have the time for a hobby. All of my time is spent researching other people’s families, not my own. So if you are passionate about researching your own family, you may want to reconsider whether or not becoming a professional is right for you. I love the hunt, the problem-solving aspect of genealogy, even if that family is not my own. I would love to be able to apply my education and experience to my own family. And hopefully I will later be able to do so – I just don’t have the time now.

“4. Are you prepared for an emotional roller coaster?”

Running any small business will have its highs and lows — and the more you love what you are doing, the more emotional these highs and lows will be.

I would recommend that anyone thinking of turning your hobby into a career read this article, and then consider long and hard whether this is really what you want.

SOURCE: Rebecca Thebault, “4 Questions To Ask Before Turning A Hobby Into Your Career,” in American Express Open Forum blog, posted 18 August 2011 (http://www.openforum.com/ : accessed 2011).

So, are you ready for certification?

I have been absolutely amazed at the responses to my last two posts. My intention was to give people a glimpse “behind the curtain,” to see the actual judging process for themselves, as well as raise awareness of some common mistakes. If you have not yet read them, you can read part one here and part two here.

I just want to also remind people that this was an unsuccessful application. My recent successful application is much different.

So, after reading these posts, do you feel ready for certification?

The Board for the Certification of Genealogists offers a short checklist on its website, entitled, “Are You Ready for Certification?” I would recommend that everyone interested in becoming certified go through this checklist to test your readiness. Be honest with yourself though. If you exaggerate your qualifications, you are only hurting yourself.

The BCG also offers other resources to help you in your goal. You should definitely take advantage of all of these as learning opportunities.

1. Read the Application Guide thorougly. Be sure that you understand all of the requirements. Practice them. For example, take a handful of records from your private collection and transcribe them, abstract them, and perform the other “Document Work” requirements. Use a wide variety of record types — deeds, wills, tax lists, census records, etc. If you are not currently conducting client research, take a few of you own research problems and write them up as if you were conducting the research for a client. The BCG also provides two practice records on their website, with the Document work completed. The full Application Guide is available online here.

2. Study the Judging Rubrics. If you have practiced parts of your application on your own, try honestly evaluating these parts according to the rubrics. The best part of the rubrics (in my opinion) is that they state plainly which of the BCG Standards are applicable to each evaluation. You can read the rubrics online here.

3. Read and understand the BCG Standards Manual. A very active and enlightening discussion took place on the Transitional Genealogists Forum mailing list beginning in January 2010. This discussion went through the BCG Standards one by one, with discussion from many Board-certified genealogists, professional genealogists, and “transitional” genealogists. You can see the start of this discussion here. A new thread was started for each individual standard following this one, so you may have to go back to the list archives index to find them all. However, I would credit this discussion with some of the understandings of the standards that I have come to. You can purchase The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual on Amazon.com, or purchase it directly from the BCG.

4. Read the books and articles suggested on the BCG’s “Supplemental Study List.” This list is available on the BCG’s website here. Several of these books were also mentioned in my blog post “The top 5 books on my bookshelf.” Of particular importance, in my opinion, are Elizabeth Shown Mills’s Evidence!, Christine Rose’s The Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case, and Numbering Your Genealogy: Basic Systems, Complex Families, and International Kin, by Joan F. Curran, Madilyn Coen Crane, and John H. Wray. This last book, published by the National Genealogical Society, will help you tremendously when writing your Kinship Determination Project. If you are a member of the National Genealogical Society, you will also want to be sure to read the special issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly dealing with evidence. This issue was published in September 1999 (vol. 87, no. 3), and can be read online by NGS members.

5. Consider a formal education program. The BCG has compiled a list of educational programs, including university-sponsored programs, institutes, major conferences, and independent study courses. This list can be read here.

6. Read the “Skillbuilding” articles. These articles provide some great tips for using specific record groups in great depth, tips for methodology, and other articles that will help to prepare you for the depth of research expected of Board-certified genealogists. These articles, originally printed in OnBoard, can be found on the BCG website here. Of particular interest to the readers of this series of posts is “Skillbuilding: A Judge’s Notes From an Application for CG,” which provides similar information from the perspective of a BCG judge.

7. Read the “Ten Tips for Success” article. This article shares some common elements with this blog post. It can be read here.

8. Study the Work Samples. Several examples of case studies, proof arguments, compiled genealogies, narrative lineages, and research reports have been posted on the BCG website here. Read them and study them. Compare them to the rubrics and standards, to see how they meet each one. And then apply the lessons you have learned to your own work.

9. Watch the seminar video. Thomas Jones, CG, and Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, present a seminar on becoming certified at various national conferences and institutes. If you have not attended the seminar in person, you can still benefit by watching the video. This video can be viewed on the BCG website here.

10. Read the “Application Strategies.” Five articles, originally published in the BCG’s OnBoard journal, have been reprinted on the BCG website. These articles specifically deal with the application process, from details on putting together the physical portfolio to a survey of a group of successful applicants. You can read these articles here.

In addition to all of the above resources provided by the Board itself, I would also make the following recommendations:

11. Join the Transitional Genealogists Forum mailing list. This list often has some great discussions, as noted above on the BCG Standards, and as noted before when discussing citations in my post “Source Citations: Why Form Matters, part one.” The list is extremely welcoming of genealogists of all levels, and is frequented by many professional and Board-certified genealogists, including Elizabeth Shown Mills, Elissa Scalise Powell, Thomas Jones, and others! The Archives of the mailing list comprise another great source for information, as we discuss issues relevant to conducting professional-level genealogical research. Details of this Rootsweb-hosted mailing list can be seen here.

12. Join a study group. The ProGen Study Group is great for those aspiring professional genealogists who are considering certification. This 18-month program take an in-depth look at the book Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills. Each month studies an individual chapter with a practical assignment for each, including several that will help you with the basics of establishing a business. Other assignments help with evidence analysis and writing a proof argument. A second useful study group meets monthly to discuss a selected article from the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. This group picks apart the article and discusses what went right, what went wrong, what could have been explained better, etc. There is not currently a website, but you can obtain more information by sending an email to the coordinator, Sheri Fenley.

There is, of course, no amount of education and practice than can guarantee success. Some people may be able to succeed without all of the preparatory steps I note above. Others may be able to perform all of these tasks and not succeed the first time. But stick with it if you are interested. The judges comments are a great learning experience in and of themselves, as noted in the previous post.

If you think you are ready to begin certification, go ahead and submit your Preliminary Application. You have a full year to complete the portfolio, and during that time you will have access to the BCG-ACTION mailing list for help on preparing the application itself, as well as a complimentary subscription to OnBoard. If you are not ready after the first year, you can always request an extension, at the cost of $50 per year. It is better to pay $50 for the extension and succeed, than to pay $220 to fail.

So, are you ready for certification?

If you would like to cite this post: Michael Hait, “So, are you ready for certification?,” Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession blog, posted 17 Jul 2011 (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com : accessed [access date]).

How Not to Become Certified, part two

I promised in my post “How Not to Become Certified, part one,” to share some of the judge’s comments from my unsuccessful 2007 application to the Board for the Certification of Genealogists. I feel that this can be a valuable learning experience for those planning their own application for certification. Read the first post for my own opinions as to why that portfolio was unsuccessful.

Please note that the judging system in use at that time is no longer used by the BCG. However, the judge’s comments are still appropriate. To learn about the current BCG judging process, read “The Judging Process” on the BCG website, and review the current evaluation rubrics.

This application received a mixed decision: one judge approved the application, two judges disapproved it. The BCG regulations require all mixed decisions to be reviewed by a fourth judge, whose decision is final. Below are comments from all four judges, both positive and negative, that address common problems that researchers have. I will not add my own commentary but allow the judge’s words to speak for themselves.

[Regarding "Understanding & use of contradictory evidence"] “While noted as contradictory, no resolution was offered…”

“Did not apply the Genealogical Proof Standard.”

“An efficient research plan would call for identifying the location prior to searching for a document.”

“The abstract has entirely too many abbreviations, and the style changes from naming the devisee first, to naming the property first.”

“The outline form for results works well.”

“The applicant consistently referred to the typescript extract of a letter as a transcript. As he demonstrated with the document work, a transcript is a full, word for word, copy of a document. These few lines, taken out of a letter, are not a transcript.”

“A lot of interesting information is still in the footnotes. Moving information from footnotes into the text would create a more interesting story.”

“The text hinted at discrepancies, but did not develop the proof.”

“It is disappointing ot read between the lines and see a competent genealogist, yet realize that the work presented in this portfolio does  not meet the BCG Standards for Certification. The problems with the Case Study and report could be rectified with experience and attention to detail. However, due to the fact there was no attempt to apply the Genealogical Proof Standard or write a proof summary in any part of the portfolio, this judge is unable to recommend approval.”

“Use a wide range of sources per standard 19.”

“Heavy reliance on derivative sources.”

“Some kinship proof weak, see standard 50.”

“Proof summary inadequate, insufficient discussion, see standard 41.”

“Need a wider range of sources, see standard 19.”

“[T]he applicatioin guide states that applicants should show which of the three formats they chose for the case study. This was not done and therefore creates another area of uncertainty for judges.”

“Judges do expect more biographical data and historical or cultural context in the Kinship-Determination report and the portfolio was weak in these areas.”

“Footnote 5 might also be a possibility [for creating a proof summary] as it summarizes indirect evidence for the parents of Mary Lusby, but it wasn’t developed into a proof summary.”

“The Kinship-Determination project was the weakest part of the portfolio. There was very little biographical information, the format was not a recommended style, and it lacked the required two proof summaries. Without demonstrations of proof summaries this portfolio cannot be approved.”

“It is unfortunate that although Mr. Hait has satisfactorily met many of the standards, several major ones are unmet and they are so serious that certification cannot be recommended. However, Mr. Hait is encouraged to learn from the judges’ comments, correct the noted deficiencies and omissions, and later apply with a new portfolio that demonstrates what he has learned.”

And I did just that.

If you would like to cite this post: Michael Hait, “How Not to Become Certified, part two,” Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession blog, posted 16 Jul 2011 (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com : accessed [access date]).

What is a Certified Genealogist(sm)?

According to the brochure “Why Hire a Board-Certified Genealogist?” published by the Board for the Certification of Genealogists,

Certified Genealogist (CG): one who is proficient in all areas of genealogical research and analysis. Those who carry this credential conduct broadly based projects whose goals are to find and interpret evidence, assemble proof of identity and relationships, and prepare sound reports and historical accounts of families, past and present.

To become a Certified Genealogist, one must have a portfolio reviewed by three judges, themselves Certified.

This portfolio consists of various genealogical work products, including

  • Document Work. Each applicant is provided with a photocopy of an original document. The applicant must first transcribe and abstract the document. Then the applicant must identify a hypothetical research focus in which this document would be used, analyze the information in the document in light of this focus, and submit a short research plan to follow up on the information in this document. All of these same steps must then also be completed using a document provided by the applicant.
  • Research Report. Each applicant must provide a recent client research report, exactly as it was delivered to the client. No modifications can be made prior to submission. Permission from the client to submit the report must also be provided.
  • Case Study: Conflicting or Indirect Evidence. A written case study utilizing either conflicting or indirect evidence must be submitted. The case study should describe the research problem and all research steps taken to solve this problem. Often these case studies will be akin to what one would read in the top genealogical journals, such as National Genealogical Society Quarterly.
  • Kinship-Determination Project. Each applicant must submit a narrative genealogy, narrative pedigree, or narrative lineage covering at least three sequential generations. Within this project, the applicant must discuss evidence proving at least two parent-child links in different generations. Every statement of fact must be documented, and the project must demonstrate broad research meeting the Genealogical Proof Standard.

Certified Genealogists represent those whose work has been judged to meet the stringent BCG Standards. Among the CGs active today are the best and brightest genealogists nationwide. A look at the online roster on the website of the Board for the Certification of Genealogists is like reading a “who’s who” of genealogy.

Certified Genealogists are many things to many people.

But the short answer to that question, as you will see in my new profile, is that, as of 9 July 2011, I am now a Certified Genealogist! It was a long, two-year process (I needed an extension just to be sure I had my portfolio ready!), but the results finally came in!

If you would like to cite this post: Michael Hait, “What is a Certified Genealogist(sm)?,” Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession blog, posted 11 Jul 2011 (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com : accessed [access date]).

What Exactly Do I Research?

This post is inspired by the post, “What Exactly Do I Research?” by Marian Pierre-Louis in her blog, Marian’s Roots & Rambles (18 June 2011). In this post, Marian describes her research interests. I enjoyed this post quite a bit, and have decided to emulate Marian here. Some of you may think you know what I research, and some of you may not have the slightest idea. So consider this an introduction to my research. …

My main interest is in writing, but my main income comes through client research projects. There are several kinds of projects that I work on:

  • Document retrievals. If someone just needs records from Maryland or Delaware, and lives too far to obtain them for themselves, they will hire me to do so.
  • Lineage research. The vast majority of my research projects are for clients who simply want to trace their lineage, but either do not have the time, knowledge, or access to records, to do so for themselves.
  • Brickwall research. In many cases, clients have worked on a problem for years, and finally decide to hire someone to help them with breaking through the brick wall. This is my favorite kind of project. Sometimes I cannot break through the brickwall, but I do have a high rate of success.

I have conducted research throughout every county in Maryland, though I have the most experience in Prince George’s, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore counties, and Baltimore city. Recent projects have been located in Frederick, Charles, St. Mary’s, and Dorchester counties, in Maryland, and New Castle and Sussex counties, in Delaware.

However, I have also researched African American families around the country, including Texas (click here for an ongoing Texas case study), Louisiana, Mississippi, and Virginia. My own family (not African American) comes primarily from New York, Connecticut, Virginia, and North Carolina, and my wife’s family is primarily from Tennessee, Mississippi, and South Dakota.

Aside from my clients (and my own family, if I ever had time to research them anymore!), I have several research interests of my own.

My primary interests are in African American genealogy and the U. S. Civil War and “Reconstruction” eras. As much progress as has been made on all of these fronts, there are still so many unknown or little-known resources yet to be tapped. Tying into these interests are several other projects:

  • Record groups nationwide, no matter how large or small their focus, that provide direct evidence connecting slaves or former slaves with their slave owners. Beyond the use of these records that provide direct evidence, I am also working on a guide to using indirect evidence to identify the slave owners of former slaves.
  • Compensated emancipation in the border states. Especially the records of the Slave Claims Commissions, which were active in Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, and West Virginia, during and immediately following the U. S. Civil War.
  • Slavery in southern Maryland. For nearly five years, I have been collecting records concerning enslaved families in Prince George’s County, Maryland. This project has included Civil War service and pension records, probate records, bills of sale, runaway slave advertisements, vital records, federal census records, tax lists, and several other record groups concerning slaves and their owners. Some of these families will be the subjects of research case studies, and transcriptions / abstracts / indexes of some of the records will begin to be published later this year. Other segments of this research project will be appearing in magazine and journal articles, and presentations/webinars.

Another of my research interests is network theory. A multi-faceted and multidisciplinary study of how networks develop, network theory can be applied to the study of communities. The study of our ancestral communities has already been proven to aid our genealogical research, but I believe that network theory and its application to the development of these communities can take our field to a whole new level. A brief article that I wrote on the subject–though barely scratching the surface of the potential application of network theory–was published in the article “Small Worlds: Researching Social Networks,” published in the Sept/Oct 2009 issue of Family Chronicle magazine. These theories are also being applied in the above long-term project on the enslaved families of Prince George’s County.

Now you know a little more about me and my research.

For more information, you can visit my website, particularly the “Publications” page. Or use the links below for more on my recent books:

If you would like to cite this post: Michael Hait, “What Exactly Do I Research?,” Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession blog, posted 28 Jun 2011 (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com : accessed [access date]).

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