Don’t Stereotype a Genealogist

bigstock-Family-Icons-3 generationsStereotyping, like it or not, it happens. And  thanks to human nature, we all have a tendency to do it.

Now I think you’ll all agree with me that genealogy has been stereotyped for far too long, and it’s time to change that. If you think of most genealogy events or seminars that you’ve been to, was the majority of attendees from the older generation? Probably. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that. Genealogy is a fabulous for them to do. I mean documenting the lives of their forebears, as well as their own – it’s a gift for their kids and grandkids, and what person wouldn’t love to be handed that kind of information from an older relative?! Besides it is a great retirement hobby.

But it NEEDS to change! And it IS changing. Though only slowly (at least here in Oz, though I’d say it seems to have hit the US already), and that is that there is a whole new breed of people discovering genealogy. They are new, young, enthusiastic, and tech savvy! Not to mention just as passionate (and obsessed) as their older colleagues about genealogy.

I was fortunate to be able attend RootsTech earlier this year, which was an eyeopener in many ways, and not just because I got to meet so many of my genealogy heroes, but also to see the crowd, and feel the whole vibe of the event. Having a family business (Gould Genealogy is a family business) who exhibited at many genealogy events over the past 35+ years, I grew up attending them, and I can’t say that I’ve experienced anything like it here in Oz. Mind you RootsTech is on a whole different scale to anything that has ever been held in Australia, so it’s not surprising.

It was held over 3 days, and I would have to say (in my own option) that the dominant age range would have been the 20-40 age group, which included plenty of young parents pushing prams, or those who had or young kids. The older generation were there too, but not in as greater numbers and I guess it was the combination of both of those things, that made it feel like it wasn’t an older person’s event.

‘Sadly it is true that not everyone in the older generation likes the ‘new breed’ of genies, but trust me you need them. These are the people who are promoting genealogy to their generation in the way that they know how – which is largely through social media.

Blogging, social sharing sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+, even YouTube are all now becoming a standard medium for the younger generation as a means to searching for and sharing their family history with others. Putting it simply genealogy these days is not what it was 20, 10 or even 5 years ago. It is constantly evolving with the advent of new technology.

We all know that there will be records you won’t find online, and that you should get certificates to verify data … that won’t change, but the methods used to source records HAS changed. And these new young genies are utilising the tools at hand. And they are not to be ignored. Far from it, everyone should be encouraging them as they progress on their journey.

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Anyway let me introduce you to some young Aussie genies that are ‘doing it their way’ …

Caitie – Queensland
I first “met” Caitie through her blog (Tumblr) where she shares quite a number of family photos. She’s 22, and has been discovering her family for the past 4 years. And she doesn’t limit herself to just her blog. She can also be found on Twitter, Facebook, and has started recording YouTube videos about her quest, and not forgetting Pinterest.

Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Tumblr  / Pinterest

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Gen – South Australia
I found Gen through Twitter, which led me to her blog GenXology. She is 30-something, and as you can imagine, loves genealogy.

Blog / Twitter

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Kim and Kristy – New South Wales
KKGenealogy is made up of Kim and Kristy, with Kristy fitting into the “young genealogist” category, and as such I’ve decided to mention this duo of authors, bloggers, researchers and social media peeps here. I first discovered KKGenealogy through Twitter, and since then have trawled through their blog, and browsed their Facebook page. I must say that since I have adopted my hubby’s convicts as mine (which now brings “my” total to 18, so far) I’m loving their Convict-ionary series of posts.

Blog / Facebook / Twitter

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So there’s just three ‘young’ Aussies who are sharing their genealogy in their own way. If you are a young Aussie genealogist (or know of any), please let us know what methods you use to share your genealogy (if you do)

And while thinking genealogy and stereotyping I couldn’t help but be reminded of a post by Kerry at Clue Wagon on “What Would Genealogist Barbie Look Like?” … yes it is stereotyping, but I do still love it. But it got me thinking about what would a “young genealogist” Barbie Doll look like? I’m thinking that they look no different to any other young person these days, except that you may find them in a cemetery or archives office. But you could almost guarantee that she’d have her tech toys (such as an ipad, and/or smartphone etc) with an app to take pics of the headstones so she can upload them to BillionGraves, and she can check the details of her family using an app that she has her family tree on. And either write notes (or take audio notes) using the same device.  What do you think a young genealogist barbie doll would have?

9 Comments Post a Comment
  1. It was wonderful to meet you at RootsTech this year and I hope you are returning in 2014. I love your contribution to the discussion that promotes genealogy for all ages! There were young genealogists involved when I was your age but the lack of technology prevented us from coming together, which is a definite advantage for your generation. Count your blessings; use it wisely; and have a great time discovering! My best to you always!

  2. Alona Tester says:

    Thanks so much for your comment Lynn. It was fabulous to meet you at RootsTech, and I do hope to catch up again in 2015 (in 2014 I’ll be geneacruising), as that’s when I plan to head back to the US. I grew up in the genealogy industry being in a family based genealogy business, and I have seen it evolve and change. I know that people need to adapt to changes to make the most of it, and that societies/groups need to adapt to survive. And we all need to encourage everyone who is new to genealogy, young and old.

  3. Jana Last says:

    Alona,

    I want you to know that your blog post is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2013/08/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-august-23.html

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  4. Alona Tester says:

    Ooh thankyou so much Jana ;-).

  5. Amy says:

    hello, I’m 26 and I been interested in genealogy when I was 15-16 and got into it and just wanted to learn more I got stuck because I never knew my fathers side so only recent couple years when I finally found info on his side as I never knew him either, I hope to help my niece learn about her family history.

  6. Spreading the word at Recherché Specialty Picture Framing too Alana – reposted link to your interesting blog here http://www.facebook.com/rechercheframing

  7. Alona Tester says:

    Hi Amy, fabulous to hear from another young genie. And awesome work on encouraging your niece.

  8. Alona Tester says:

    Thank you so much Elwyn. I notice you do picture restoration, we had a discussion about that a little while ago on our FB page, wondering who was around that still did it. Now I know!

  9. Heather says:

    Hi, my name is Heather and I’m a young genealogist. I started researching at 16, and I have always wanted to connect to other young genealogists my age. So, a friend of mine and I have started a community on Google+ called Young and Savvy Genealogists. Anyone who loves genealogy and is under the age of 30 is welcome to join us!

    We also have a group blog for and by young genealogists. We share our experiences and helpful tips, plus invite other young researchers to share their stories, successes, and experiences doing genealogy.

    Please pass our information along to anyone who might be interested!

    Cheers!
    Heather

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