When I first started down the road toward researching my family history, I looked to do practically everything myself. I ordered certificates, wrote down what I had learnt, and used those notes to proceed onto the next level of certificate ordering. It was linear, amateurish, and I missed a lot of clues, but that’s the pitfall of tackling this obsession as a loner.
A couple of years of research passed before I finally ventured into a local Historical Society or Genealogical Research Group, and whilst I’d love to say I joined up and found some handy contacts, made rapid progress in developing new research skills and even made a few friends along the way, that’s just not the case at all. Instead, I walked in, stood at what I assume to have been the reception desk, waited for the tumble-weeds to pass, looked back at the troupe of elderly researchers who were piercing my skull with an icy glare, exchanged a few words with an exceedingly reluctant volunteer and walked back out highly disappointed.
Are all groups like the one I described? I’m sure they aren’t. But the memory of my sour experience was refreshed this week when listening to the latest Genealogy Guys pod-cast, whilst fighting boredom on my long train trip to work.
In the pod-cast, a listener had written in, speaking about his own particularly negative experiences in attempting to make a contribution to a local genealogy group. This immediately had me thinking back to my own experience, and seemingly it fed into the recollections of the hosts, in their travels as well.
Is this a common problem? I’d hate to think that my, or anyone’s next foray into a Historical Society will be met with disappointment.
I was living in a small town of about 15,000 when I faced that clique, and now I’m in a city of 4 million. At least now I’ve got a wide choice of organisations to be potentially shunned by!
Whilst I appreciate that genealogists in their 20’s, as I was then, aren’t exactly a common sight to the typical septuagenarian researcher/volunteer, I still feel that a level of common courtesy and decorum should be extended to all who would venture through such a groups door. New blood and new members are a good thing, right?
May I Introduce to You . . . Colleen Murdoch
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