Monday, January 21, 2013

The Genealogists' Neighborhood

A few years ago, a product whose name I have forgotten produced a TV commercial based on the premise that several star professional football players lived in adjoining houses in the same neighborhood, and would encounter each other while going out to walk the dog or fetch the newspaper. The houses looked significantly more middle-class, closer together, and less exclusive than would be likely for anyone in that income and fame bracket, but never mind. The point was to create a readily recognizable community.

Attending a genealogy conference or institute is a bit like living in one of those commercials -- with fellow genealogists as neighbors, rather than large violent men. We encounter colleagues and idols at every turn. The setting is apart from normal daily life -- no dishes to do, no opportunity to borrow a cup of sugar from the author of "The Children of Calvin Snell" -- but it is real in its way.

Typically we start by attending the same classes together. Over time as we develop specialties and responsibilities, there are fewer occasions to share the same experience or the exhilaration of beginning. But there are also new ways to collaborate and keep in touch at a distance. The neighborhood was always fictive, but the friendships can be real.

Harold Henderson, "The Genealogists' Neighborhood," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 21 January 2013 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]


Geolover said...

Harold, this is a lovely community-oriented post. Maybe no "cup of sugar," but the folks with long experience are nearly always willing to share: techniques and methods, resources, and "guess what I found in . . ." that keep the field always percolating, improving and lively!

Kimberly said...

This one really made me smile, Harold.

Anne Gillespie Mitchell said...

Agree completely. I know I was delighted to meet you!