Genealogy: A House Divided or A House With Many Doors?


Seeing the genealogy community as divided between professionals and amateurs or as a complex structure filled with facets and opportunities is a matter of perspective. Over the past few weeks several discussions concerning the state of the genealogy community have popped up, many of which I started and I take responsibility for starting.

There are several discussion points below. I invite members of the GeneaBloggers community to participate, if they so choose, over at their blog and then link back to their post in the comments. For those of you without a blog or who simply want to comment, use the Comments platform of your choice (listed below).

Is This Really Important?

In the big scheme of things? No. I know what’s important to me (mass murder in Syria, freedom of speech in Russia and other topics) is not on the same scale of “genealogy issues.” While it sounds very “first world” to even be having this discussion, there is a level of interest which should allow such a discussion.

Some of you don’t want to have this discussion. Instead of saying “Well then go away,” I’m willing to say “That’s valid. Let me know why you feel we shouldn’t have this discussion.”

Ground Rules?

Simple: Act is if you were being interviewed on stage at a major genealogy event such as a conference or a radio broadcast. Be considerate, be clear, be concise. Own your opinions. No trolling. No anonymous comments. Don’t rehash old insults, slights or hurts. Keep it positive. Propose solutions.

Discussion Points – Where Is Genealogy Going?

Some of these are provocative and come from the bizarre mind of your host here at GeneaBloggers. My goal is always to get people to think, and many times to think outside the established or accepted parameters. That’s just how I roll.

  • Do you think the genealogy community periodically needs to have these discussions related to professional vs. amateur genealogy? Or are they unproductive and if so, why?
  • Has the DIY (“do it yourself”) approach in genealogy and the influx of many new to genealogy ruined it for the rest of us?
  • Does the use of the terms “professional” and “amateur” in genealogy help or hinder the community?
  • What is your definition of a professional genealogist? A hobby or amateur genealogist?
  • Is there one true path to being a professional genealogist? Is a credential or degree necessary?
  • Is professional training in genealogy geared more towards those with a higher socio-economic status or those who already have a higher educational background?
  • If you could tell someone new to genealogy that there are “standards” to follow, what would they be?
  • If the gamut of genealogical experience spans from Professional to Amateur, are there descriptive terms that can be used for those “in between” those end points? Hobbyist? Talented Amateur? Professional Amateur?
  • If someone uses their credential or experience in a way that is meant to demean, discount or dissuade the work of another genealogist (professional or amateur), what is an acceptable response to such a comment? Should it be ignore or is a response required? Would the response be different if the comment were made in-person or electronically (email, blog post, comment, etc.)?
  • Is there elitism in genealogy? If so, will it ever be eliminated? If it can’t be eliminated, what are some suggested tips on dealing with it?
  • Has genealogy always been rooted in elitism or is there simply an active push by some practitioners to set standards which will ultimately benefit all in the genealogy community as well as those that consign genealogical research services?
  • Is there really room for “everyone” at the genealogy table?
  • Are Professional Amateurs a threat to professional genealogy or simply a new breed of genealogist who happen to have a strong command of technology and a different perspective on genealogy?
  • Is there a generation gap in genealogy? Are there any other “divides” in the genealogy community or are these divisive tactics which act as roadblocks to enjoying genealogy as a hobby or profession?

©2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Announcing – A New Genealogy Education Channel

Now here’s some exciting news that I’ve been sitting on for months and I am so happy to finally share it with my readers and the genealogy community!

Legacy Family Tree, provider of great free genealogy webinars, has upped the ante in the genealogy education market and is now offering over 136 hours of genealogy education for one low price at its new site

A New Way to Access Archived Genealogy Webinars

So how does it work? Well, in the past you may have attended the Legacy webinars for free or watched the recording for free within one week of the original presentation date. After that, if you wanted to watch the webinar or have access to the handouts, you had to purchase the webinar CD from the Legacy Family Tree Store.

NOW you can sign up for a membership at and get access to all archived webinars and the accompanying handouts for one low price. Memberships are available on an annual basis for the low introductory price of $49.95/annual (normally $79.95) or a monthly basis for $9.95/month (normally $12.95).

The Advantages of a Membership with Legacy Family Tree Webinars

With the new set up, here’s what you’ll get:

  • Access to almost 100 quality genealogy and family history webinars with over 136 hours of viewable content.
  • Syllabus materials that you can download to your computer, tablet or mobile device.
  • No shipping charges on ordering CDs and waiting for them to be delivered.
  • Easier access for international genealogists.

You can still purchase Legacy Family Tree webinars on CD if that is your preferred method of access.  But now you have more choices and more ways to enjoy webinars by genealogy’s leading educators including Megan Smolenyak, Thomas MacEntee, Barbara Renick, DearMYRTLE, Marian Pierre-Louis, Maureen Taylor, Geoff Rasmussen, Lisa Alzo, and Karen Clifford.

Upcoming Webinars Are Still FREE at Legacy Family Tree Webinars

What hasn’t changed with the move to Legacy Family Tree Webinars is the process of registering for upcoming webinars and then accessing the content for free.  And still, if you miss the live presentation, you can view archived webinars within one week of their live presentation date.

Register for my upcoming webinar, Behind the Cheese Curtain: A Look at Wisconsin Genealogy Resources, on Wednesday, March 6, 2013, by clicking here.

And make sure you check out the new site at Legacy Family Tree Webinars! I think you’ll be impressed by this new education resource for the genealogy community.

©2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Meet the Presenters – A Free Taste of the FTU Fall Virtual Genealogy Conference


I will be one of several genealogy educations participating in the Fall Virtual Genealogy Conference at Family Tree University, September 14-16, 2012. FTU is offering the public a chance to meet the presenters of this online conference through a series of Facebook chats and Twitter tweet-ups. Check out the chart below for the Meet the Presenters schedule.

A Special Coupon!

Family Tree University was nice enough to create a special coupon code just for me so I could pass it along to friends who want to join me at the conference.  When registering enter FRIENDSOFTHOMAS to get a 20% discount!  This code is also good for any other Family Tree University course!

What’s a virtual genealogy conference?

Just like a conference you attend in-person but with more flexibility and just as many opportunities to network with other genealogy researchers. You’ll find pre-recorded webinars (a total of 15!), scheduled chats where you can ask the experts various questions, a message board and even a virtual gift bag filled with genealogy goodies!

The Fall Virtual Genealogy Conference is a great alternative for busy genealogists as well as those that can’t travel long distances to attend genealogy conferences.

See the information below and I hope I’ll “see” you online in September!

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Take part in pre-scheduled social media Q&A’s to get to know your experts

For a fraction of the cost it takes to travel to–and attend–a live event, Family Tree University’s Fall 2012 Virtual Conference provides attendees with an all-access pass to 15 half-hour video sessions presented by the same experts you’d pay an arm and a leg to see speak at a regular conference, all online, from the convenience of home. Enjoy all three days, Friday, Sept. 14, at 9 a.m. through Sunday, Sept. 16, at 11:59 p.m., from the comfort of your bed, desk chair, couch or coffee shop–wherever you have internet access.

Between message board discussions and live chats on topics such as “Researching Courthouse Records” and “Choosing a Cloud Genealogy Program”, you’ll have ample opportunity to engage with fellow genealogy enthusiasts as much as you want, as often as you want. You’ll also receive a “swag bag” of genealogy freebies from How long, you ask, will these great research materials be available to you?

Forever. That’s how long you will get to keep all the session videos and live chat transcripts. Download them to your desktop and use for future reference, whether that’s in in two months or two years! Find out how to register at

Learn more about the conference presenters and their sessions during our upcoming “Meet The Presenters” social media series. Simply log on to Facebook or Twitter at the prescribed times and follow Family Tree Magazine to watch and participate in live Q&A’s with our genealogy experts. Here is our current lineup:

Thomas MacEntee
Facebook Chat
Wed., 8/22 @ 2pm EDT/11am PDT
Lisa Louise Cooke
Facebook Chat
Mon., 8/27 @ 4pm EDT/1pm PDT
Lisa A. Alzo
Facebook Chat
Tues., 9/4 @ 3pm EDT/12pm PDT
Gena Philibert-Ortega
Tweet Up (#FTUVC)
Wed., 9/5 @ 4:30pm EDT/1:30pm PDT
Diana Crisman Smith
Facebook Chat
Tues., 9/11 @ 3pm EDT/12pm PDT
Rick Crume
Facebook Chat
Thurs., 9/13 @ 1pm EDT/10am PD

Read presenter bios and view the conference program. Click here to register.