Monday, December 19, 2011

No Genealogy Community? That Depends On Who You Ask

By Robin Foster   Posted at  12:26 PM   Online Communities 3 comments


I would like to express my thanks to James Tanner (Wherein I eat my words..) for acknowledging online genealogical communities.  His observations brought to light the fact that communities can exist, and at the same time everyone might not feel part of the unified body.  


Take a look at the very definition of community: 
"A social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage. See "Community" at Dictionary.com
The phrases "specific locality" and "common cultural and historical heritage" make a community exclusive.  Combined communities make up larger entities like towns, states, countries, and eventually the world.  Perhaps we have coined the wrong phrase when we use community to describe the whole population.


Next, I know all too painfully what it feels like to lurk in the shadows of an offline community because no one feels you have anything to offer.  I struggled on my own to identify my ancestors.  African American research was a very painful process in the day I began.  I was told I would not be able to identify my ancestors before 1870.   I was told that they probably were not married, and other things I was able to prove false out of my own rebellious nature.


Once I found success, I wanted others to experience the joy of these discoveries, and it never mattered to me what race that person was or what part of the world their ancestor's lived.  When James Tanner said we are just beginning to see genealogical communities, for me his words ring true.  I fought long and hard to have the opportunity to help people for over seven years.  All doors were closed to me and every effort was blocked for reasons I do not care to even acknowledge.


The greatest thing you lose when you close the doors of opportunity on someone is what they might have helped you to accomplish.  From my perspective, I had to find a place where I could share my knowledge so that I could continue to progress myself.  


It was not until I jumped online that I felt embraced by people who consider me a peer.  I hate to mention names. I love you all, but if it were not for Shelley Murphy, Angela Walton-Raji, Joseph McGill Jr, and Toni Carrier, Geneabloggers, and the folks at FamilySearch, I would have not had the opportunities to give or receive that I have each and every day I awake.


My idea of what others call community really is global to me--a great network of communities.   I am truly grateful for the opportunity I have each day to help someone find a place where they can ask for free research assistance, learn about a resource, or find a friend who is interested in the same thing.  After my own experience in the days when I could not find  either one of these things myself, I am humbled to be able to be so engaged!


Stay tuned!  We will put up Italy today!


See: 

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About the Author

Robin is the National Genealogy Examiner and a member of the South Carolina Genealogical Society - Columbia Chapter. She has presented for the following chapters: Anderson, Pinckney, Greenville, Columbia. She presented at the 41st Annual Summer Workshop of the South Carolina Genealogical Society held at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History July 12-13 in 2013. Libraries and museums that have requested presentations that she has honored include: Lexington County Public Library (Cayce Branch), Union Carnegie Library, Richland Library (Main), Greenwood County Library, and Union County Museum..
Find Robin in other places: Entire Online Presence

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