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Open Thread Thursday: Occupy Genealogy

open thread

This week’s topic for Open Thread Thursday is:

Should there be an Occupy Genealogy movement in the genealogy community? Has such a movement been ongoing yet we’ve just not realized it?

How does change come about in genealogy in terms of practices, methodology, resources, tools, education – all the facets that are genealogy and family history?

What changes would you like to see? Pick up your magic genealogy wand and tell us how you’d wave it and what you would change – and why.

Post your responses in the comments or at a post on your own genealogy blog and place the link here in the comments.


Read the Occupy Genealogy post just published here at GeneaBloggers and you’ll see  my own thoughts on change in the genealogy community.

While as a genealogist I am often rooted in the past, I fully understand that in order to find my ancestors, I need to stay on top of changes and new resources, new tools in the genealogy industry. It is like having a foot in two portals and while challenging at times, the rewards are many.


This is a great topic for this week’s Open Thread Thursday! And please, if you have a topic you’d like to see discussed among your genealogy blogging colleagues, please contact us and we’ll take it under consideration.

©2011, copyright Thomas MacEntee

8 thoughts on “Open Thread Thursday: Occupy Genealogy

  1. Seems to me that we geneabloggers have occupied the SCGS Jamboree for several years now – noisy exhibitions, off-the-wall late night (hey, 10 PM is late for some of us) parties, a special place that they herd us into, and freebies!

  2. Perhaps we need to “Occupy” and influence more state legislatures to be reasonable when worrying about identity theft (I know it’s a real problem), but let’s think about the disadvantages also. We need to carefully consider evidence, not just take “facts” posted somewhere for granted, just like we need to read all news carefully and look for a bias in reporting, etc. Why did someone in our past report incorrect data? If we are to “occupy”, let’s not be the 1% and leave out the other 99%.

  3. I think the change I’d like to see is a greater sense of diversity (in all its forms), and an appreciation for that diversity. There are a lot of factions in genealogy, and I wish more people could just…be cool. There’s room for everyone.

    More and more lately I’ve encountered a lot of anger over either too much or not enough change in the community. I don’t want genealogy to be a source of anger, for me or anyone else.

  4. IMNSHO, you do a grave disservice to the multitudes who are in the Occupy movement. Changes in genealogy availability,being a good member of your genealogy group, etc. is not one iota close to the issues of poverty, income inequality, corporate greed, and joblessness.


  5. Well you are entitled to your opinion Scott but I disagree. Genealogy and knowing your ancestors, their own poverty issues, their income inequality issues is just as important.

    Also, as the genealogy industry grows so do the jobs in that industry. And growth is coming from the little guy like me, as much as from the big guys like Ancestry. When I was laid off in 2008 – not so ceremoniously as my law firm want bankrupt and stole $40,000 in wages and benefits from me – I didn’t sit around and wait for changes in my own income inequality to fall in my lap. I did the same thing my ancestors did – I went out and sought opportunities and carved a place for myself in the community and the industry. I now make about 1/6th annually what I did in the corporate world.

    Also, I and many others in the genealogy community are here encouraging others to do the same – strike out and create a profession and a career in genealogy. And set out to make changes in the industry so that it can accommodate more people.

    If you’ve read anything here at GeneaBloggers you’ll know that I believe there is room for everyone at the table.

    I just don’t understand this “grave disservice” I’ve done – perhaps it is to you personally. I don’t seek to take anything away from the Occupy Wall Street movement – I am simply trying to get people to think about change, and change for good, no matter the issues or their involvement level.

  6. Ditto to all of your points Thomas! I think Occupying Genealogy means being cultural and socially competent. Acknowledging that family structures have changed which means that we as genealogists need to change our approach to how we present and teach others how to trace their family histories. Occupying means we need to stand up for our rights as researchers to ensure that those we pass our research to have the ability to access the documents we had access to. Occupying means acknowledging (and not hiding behind) the truths that took place back in history and attempting to right the wrongs of omissions with what we publish. Yeah, don’t get me on my soapbox about this one. While I do agree with Scott about the seriousness, I think it may have been a word usage issue. We do have a platform and the time is now to utilize it. I’m with you!

  7. I totally agree with Kerry. I don’t like to see genealogy as a source of anger. I also would like to see the end to a lot of the negativity that I see in some aspects of the community. I’ve always considered the work of researching my ancestors a “labor of love” and I enjoy showing others how to get started and overcome obstacles in their research through my writing, teaching, and speaking. I have met so many great friends and colleagues in the genealogy community who help me to grow as a person, as well as a writer, speaker, and researcher, and I look forward to striving for the “change for the good” with these folks. The day genealogy stops being fun for me and starts being a source of major stress in my life is the day I will stop doing it. I certainly hope that day never comes.

  8. I completely agree with Lisa and Kerry with respect to the importance of the genealogy community being a place without anger. I am a firm believer in the power of positive energy and the good it can bring into our lives; however, I also understand the frustrations which unfortunately may manifest as anger in some quarters of the community.

    My hope for the “Occupy Genealogy” movement is to see greater collaboration between historians and genealogists. I find myself frustrated and hurt (not angry) when I see people writing about the country of my ancestors, Ireland, and making claims which have no basis in fact or are historically inaccurate. For example, I had an email ‘argument’ with a professional genealogist who claimed that there was no Civil War in the Republic of Ireland because she had read it on a website. I am happy to say that after some correspondence we resolved the issue.

    Also, I sometimes find that researchers extrapolate from the personal to the universal, in other words, taking an experience or story from their own Irish family and making it the experience of All Irish families. Two examples come to mind: the benign, ‘All Irish were farmers’, and the hurtful, ‘All Irish men drank to increase their status’.

    As online family historians and genealogists, we have a wonderful opportunity to share the histories both of our ancestors and of their countries of origins. With that opportunity comes the responsibility of disseminating accurate information.

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