Modern Software Experience

2011-06-14

teaching genealogy

introduction

Looked at any introductory text to genealogy lately?
The overall structure of quite a few such text is the same; after an introductory chapter or two, the text continues to discuss sources; what kind of sources there are, where to find them and how to use them. These text typically discuss relatively easy to understand modern sources first, and older, harder to deal with sources later.

A geneathology may be one step up from fantasy, but sources distinguish a genealogy from mere fantasy.

sources

When genealogists talk about sources, they rarely mean sources in a broad, general sense, they often mean the official records you find in archives and anything that is harder to find; genealogists may take a not entirely unjustified pride in unearthing obscure sources.

Obscure sources are the hall-mark of the specialised genealogist; it is only by familiarising yourself with lesser-known archives and collections relevant to your specialisation that you become great at that specialisation. The more you know about the relevant archives and collections, the better a genealogists you are.

records

The emphasis on searching for records is not entirely wrong.
Sources are important; genealogy without documentation is mythology. A geneathology may be one step up from fantasy, but sources distinguish a genealogy from mere fantasy.

Archive records are not everything you need; a traditional genealogy with sources is still a traditional genealogy.
You need the Genealogy Framework and DNA tests to build a scientifically solid genealogy.

Genealogy involves archival research, but archival research isn't the same thing as genealogy. Genealogy is more than that.

sources

Genealogy needs archives. Today's genealogists need archival research skills.
Introductory books need to explain about genealogically relevant records available in archives, but should not make the mistake of equating that archival research with genealogy.

Genealogy isn't just archival research.
Do not mistake the finger pointing at the Moon for the Moon.
Genealogy involves archival research, but archival research isn't the same thing as genealogy. Genealogy is more than that. Archival research is merely one particular activity on behalf of genealogy.

genealogy is more

Genealogist are archival patrons. Today's introductory genealogy texts need to teach about records in archives, but not only about that. Many records can be found online, but while online records should be cited, online geneathologies should not be cited. Genealogy can be used as basis for family history. Scientific genealogy is fundamentally different from traditional genealogy. Biological genealogy is based on DNA. There is terminology you need to learn. You need genealogy software, and there are things you need to know about such software.
A balanced introductory text does not focus on just one thing, but covers all of that (and more).

An text that focuses on archival research is not an introduction to genealogy, it is an introduction to archival research on behalf of genealogy. It may be full of information, tips and tricks useful for genealogists, but that is not the same as an introduction to genealogy.
A balanced introduction to genealogy reflects that genealogy is more than archival research.

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