16 March 2010

Genealogist or Name Collector?

I really enjoy chatting with people about their genealogy research. When I go out on my speaking engagements - talking with the people who come to hear my talks is a really cool part of doing the talks. People inspire me - not only with new talk idea's but with research thoughts and success stories.

Inevitably I end up somewhere along the way with someone who has XXXX Thousand people in their data base & they are related back to XXXXX number of kings & queens - not that being related to kings & queens is a bad thing... we've all heard all those stories... I've even discussed them to some degree here.

My problem with this whole thing is multi-fold - let me explain -

  • Documentation
  • Research
  • Documentation
  • Research
  • Documentation
  • Research

As I see it there are two types of people working the genealogy circuit these days. There are those who truly do the research. They pull the records, the census, the vital records, the county histories. They know the work that goes into proving each person on the family tree. They've done it. They've done the searches, they been to the libraries, dug thru the newspapers and paid for the copies.

Then there are the name collectors - the "click & claimers*".... the ones who have no real idea of how to research or where to even begin. The ones who think that two weeks on Ancestry can provide them with everything they need to do their family history. The ones who are so gullible to believe everything they find online - without ever bothering to even prove one generation. You know the ones - their chart has the children born before the parents, in a state that didn't even exisist at the time.

Which are you?

Happy Researching!


*Click & Claim genealogy is the thought process that states if I can click on it I can claim it as my own forever & ever!


Scottish Genealogist said...

Hi Karen - "click & claimer" is a great term that I'm going to borrow from you! I work as a genealogist in Scotland and the increase in clients asking for verification of their online research shows a worrying number of unsourced & inaccurate histories, some going back to before the records began. I often have to explain to a client that they need to start from scratch and gather the documentation, but the Click & Claimers just don't see why they should spend the time when "it's all on the internet". Thankfully, a lot DO care about getting it right :-)

Tracy said...

While we all may start out as a name collector to some extent because we have to gather something to have a place to begin, there are those that do move beyond to find the data underneath the names. I consider myself to have moved beyond that beginning stage to delve into my ancestors lives. Unfortunately there are many that don't and they never realize what they are missing and nor do they care.

I have a friend who flits from one hobby to the next. She has now asked me for some help with her family history and I told her to begin by asking questions of her parents. Turns out her family history is "done" for three of her grandparents and because it was researched by an LDS relative "it just has to be right". I just cringed and agreed to help with her son's ancestry knowing there was no way I could convince her otherwise.

These name collectors will soon flit to some other hobby but sadly in their wake they will have left a horrendous trail of errors.

Greta Koehl said...

A few years from now, the "genealogies" of these "click and claimers" (my old name for them was "GEDCOM-grabbers") will be abandoned - the equivalent of a collection of dusty figurines sitting on the shelf - because the collectors will have become bored with them. True digging and documenting never ends, because there will always be more information, more stories, and more sources to be found

Karen said...

Thanks to all for your comments! I really appreciate your comments!

Karen Packard Rhodes said...

I can't imagine not getting into the documents, the county and town histories, the newspapers, and all the rest. That's where the fun is!