Seven Rules for Genealogists

number 7What rules do you follow when you are doing your genealogy? You might want to consider some new ones that weren’t originally intended to be applied to genealogy. These thought provoking rules can make you look at your favorite hobby in a new light.

It all started with a blog post that was written by Dr. Steven Lubar. He is a professor in the Department of American Studies, and he teaches in the public humanities program at Brown University. His blog post was a list of seven rules for public humanists. His rules were designed for people who were doing public humanism.

Scott Philips, a genealogical historian and owner of Onward to Our Past genealogy services, read the rules created by Dr. Steven Lubar. Scott Philips felt that the rules ring true for genealogists or family historians, too. He wrote an article for Huffington Post about his thoughts about the rules.

Scott Philips felt that rule number 2 was especially important for genealogists and family historians. “Be a facilitator and translator as well as an expert”. Dr. Lubar wrote that “shared authority is complicated” and that “finding the right balance is tricky”. Scott Philips notes that genealogists each have some level of expertise in their family history, but still need to remember to facilitate and translate their information and findings in ways that best fit their audiences.

Dr. Lubar’s rule number six is “Think digital”. For humanists, he wrote that the digital opens up new opportunities for outreach. “But it is important to go beyond the digital as outreach to take advantage of digital’s promise of a new kind of openness, a chance to share not just the output of a project, but every step along the way”.

Scott Philip points out that genealogists need to “think digital”, too. For genealogists, this means moving away from paper and getting comfortable with digital aspects of their work. I believe what he is saying is that it is important for genealogists to become proficient at doing their research online, making digital copies of vital records and family photos, and to avoid getting “stuck” in the idea that there is only one right way to do online genealogy.

What are the rest of Dr. Lubar’s seven rules? Number one is: “It’s not about you.” Number three is: “Scholarship starts with public engagement.” Number four is: “Communities define community”.

Number five is: “Collaborate with artists”, and number seven is “Humanists need practical skills”. Change out the word “Humanists” for “Genealogists, and consider the implications. Genealogists need practical organizational skills, basic computer skills (at minimum), and the ability to do research from online and in-hand resources.

Image by Brian on Flickr.

Related Articles:

* Starting Your Family Research

* When Should You Throw Pictures Away?

* Your Family Tree – Where to Begin

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