Monday, October 7, 2013

Online Spotlight: Young & Savvy Genealogists

I don't do this often, but I'm taking a moment to stop and highlight a new blog - and online community - that I expect will do great things. Young & Savvy Genealogists focuses on connecting and highlighting the stories of those in the research community who are under the age of 30.

This is great! I've often thought that we needed a place online to do this exactly. Young genealogists are not exactly such rare birds as is sometimes supposed, but the stereotype persists. As is so often the case, the stereotype is damaging to everyone concerned. Genealogists in general are perceived as old, stodgy, and behind-the-times. (Untrue of most genealogists I know, regardless of age!) Young genealogists are sometimes thought of by other family historians as neophytes and inexperienced researchers who don't contribute to the larger community. (Also largely untrue!) Their non-genealogy peers just think they're nuts. (Potentially true.)

In reality, of course, genealogists of all ages - particularly those in the online community - are frequently tech-savvy early adopters. (I'm not, but I'm not representative of either my hobby or my generation.) Genealogists of all ages are - or should be - excellent researchers. The ones who aren't aren't limited by their age. Personally, I found that entering the world of family history research and writing directly from the world of academic research and writing in college meant that my research skills were at their peak.

In other words, young genealogists are really no different from the field at large. And yet, they - we - have some particular advantages and unique challenges that are addressed infrequently in the larger community. The best way to encourage the participation and leadership of the younger generation is to have a space where they can meet people like themselves, address the unique issues of their youth, and share their own stories. Young & Savvy Genealogists is a new endeavor, but I hope that between the blog and the Google+ Community, it can become a place where young researchers can come together - from newbies to regular guys (like me) to experts and leaders in the field - and discuss the issues that bring them together and the traits that they share.

If you're under 30, definitely check it out!

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