Finding the Genealogy Community

+James Tanner who blogs at Genealogy’s Star posed an interesting question on 4th March in his post Finding the Genealogical Community.

The question he raised was “Where do we go or what do we do to find the genealogy community?”

I am going to attempt to answer the question and perhaps the further questions that James lists in his post, but before I do that let me ask a question. What is a community?

Wikipedia states this

“The term community has two distinct meanings: 1) Community can refer to a usually small, social unit of any size that shares common values. The term can also refer to the national community or international community, and 2) in biology, a community is a group of interacting living organisms sharing a populated environment…….”

I determine that community is a collective of people with similarities, in terms of a common interest. There is a basic need for us to be part of something, which is why genealogists and family historians strive very hard to not just seek out the details of our ancestors, but to also connect with family members regardless of level of connection.

Like with anything, those interested in a particular “thing” – reading, cricket, knitting, genealogy  tend to locate those within their locality who have a common interest. The internet and search engines make that search all the more easier. Before the internet we typically joined associations and societies, entered our interested surnames into a society facility which was the published in the newsletter or journal. We then communicated by letter with other researchers who may or may not have been related to us. Sound familiar?

Having established what a community is. Let’s define genealogy and family historian.These labels can mean different things to different people. In the United Kingdom the term genealogist is akin to the college of Arms. You can read some details here whereas, family historians are to us here the UK are about names and dates and fleshing out the fine details of our ancestors.

Let me now focus on the other questions presented by James. Not everything in the world is black and white. So there are probably others at family history events. There are the exhibitors who are simply exchanging a commodity for cash, there will be spouses wandering along behind the truly interested party. I used to attend angling fairs with my husband and would amuse myself with the tea facilities and always carried a book. My husband would attend family history events with me and took slightly more interest in genealogy that I did in fishing!

Source for Graphic –

A genealogical community is therefore made up of a group of people bought together by a common factor – obviously genealogy. The difference is what the catalyst is for attending or connecting with this community.

I could state that the Anglers Rest community is made up of people who connect with me (and my husband) through a variety of interests, which for me is books and genealogy, whilst hubby is the actual fisherman.

I receive comments on various blog posts from an assortment of people, those who connect with me through books, others through genealogy or historical related entity. There are other random people who connect through the sharing of social media. In much the same way as attending a physical cocktail part (thanks to +Jen Baldwin for that phrase in this context), where you mingle with people whilst drinking glasses of bubbly and scoffing on canapés!

The genealogy community of yesteryear has gone in that context and has been replaced with an internet and social media driven community. Indeed, I would not have seen +James Tanner‘s post had it not been for social media . Nor would I have heard +Jen Baldwin mention the phrase cocktail party in relation to Twitter.

So, have I answered James’s initial question? I don’t think I have in the way perhaps expected. The biggest thing is to accept that you do not have to be physically present to be part of something, or in a community because of the wonder of social media. Rather than we join the community and mingle, the community now comes to us where we can mingle, explore and meet others.

Does that give rise to these questions – Is there a difference between community spirit and networking? Or are they essentially the same thing, but perceived differently because of status and labelling?

About Julie Goucher

Genealogist, Author, Presenter, native Guildfordian, avid note taker and journal writer. Lover of Books, Stationery & History; Surnames, Butcher & Orlando One-Name Studies. Pharos Tutor for all One-Name Studies/surname courses as well as Researching Ancestors from Continental Europe.
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