Saturday, September 22, 2012

Advocacy: Honey or Vinegar or Both?

Genealogists make do. When we encounter an obstacle, we find a way around or over it. Property records lost? Let's try tax records.  Courthouse burned? Let's check out the records kept in the state archives. State archives closing? Let's check -- ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

There's little point in protesting a century-old courthouse fire. But an economy-minded state government closing down a public archive? Sometimes we have to switch gears, from making do to making waves. And while Georgia may have disgraced itself by being the first state to do this, there is real danger that it may not be the last.

In on-line discussion among genealogists there was nevertheless a division of the house. Some emphasized the need to complain vigorously. Others suggested setting up ways to publicly praise good archives as well. The right mixture of honey and vinegar remains to be determined -- but the need for both seems indisputable.

There's also a delivery problem. An excellent archivist can make a poorly-funded archive look good by providing exemplary service. And a gaggle of stingy politicos who pay only lip service to history can leave archivists with few ways to help patrons . . . if not actually unemployed. In these situations, I tend to think that the decision-makers need the vinegar and the front-line professionals deserve the honey. But every situation is different and we need to be paying attention.

Harold Henderson, "Advocacy: Honey or Vinegar or Both?," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 22 September 2012 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

1 comment:

Jacqi Stevens said...

Well put, Harold. Thanks.