The genealogy community is, by and large, a very sociable, caring, and sharing one. While we all enjoy the vast amounts of materials that are out there for us to access electronically (so free and some not-so-free) it is important to remember that we, as genealogists, each need to pay-it-forward every so often.
"Scott. You look like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. Lighten up, kiddo!" I must have heard this phrase from my parents a million times. Now as I spend my career working in the field of genealogy at Onward To Our Past®, I think it is an apt phrase for many who pursue their ancestry, genealogy, and family history.
My granddad died a year ago. We've been clearing out his papers. Like so many men of his generation (he was born in 1921), his early adult life was cut around the events of the Second World War. And, like many of his generation, his was not the first experience of war-service in the family. Amongst the papers he left, we also came across documents and letters about his own father's service in what became the First World War...
My biggest breakthroughs, most significant finds, and most amazing discoveries have all come from not who I already knew, but from new associates, allies, mentors, and researchers who I had never known before I employed my system of casting the widest net possible whenever I hit a bumpy patch in my work.
Recently I started thinking more and more that I needed to expand my efforts to something even broader. I wasn't sure what it might be, but I knew I was developing an itch to take a step up and undertake a project something that would not only meet my interests, but also to make a difference to folks far beyond my direct reach.
I usually don't keep track of numbers, but I realized that I had over 10,000 family members in our family tree, over 6,500 attached documents and photographs, thousands of stories and notes, over 36,000 emails, contact data for over 220 family members, and almost 400 GB of additional data. These numbers immediately led me to create a plan to manage my 'big genealogy data'.
Without more respect in the genealogy community the popularity of genealogy will begin to crash and burn, the growth will stop, and the buzz will cease. To me it is simple .... Far more folks in genealogy need to be respectful and accepting of anyone's, and everyone's, reasons for undertaking their genealogy, ancestral studies, and pursuit of their family history.