The Geneaholic's Debacle

By Lee Anders

On 11 Feb 2007, I posted the following to my now defunct blog:

"I thought, this is it, this is the next chapter in my life. I will learn as I research my own family, and then someday, I’ll turn pro. I really believed I could do this. But then I subscribed to the APG mailing list. Big mistake that was, or maybe it just saved me from making one. Either way, I have never felt so out of place as I do now. I can’t be like some of those guys. I can’t seriously believe that someone needs a license to practice genealogy. I can’t get behind the idea that someone should have an advanced degree before they can be considered capable of crawling through snake infested grass to find an overturned and long forgotten stone. I can’t stand beside a group of people who would rather fight for the right to be included rather than fight for the right of ALL to see the papers of their ancestors. Well, quite frankly, I am too disappointed and upset to make much sense right now, but the bottom line is, I just can’t see myself being one of them."

What followed was an onslaught of reader response, both private and public. [Publicly via the APG mailing list, other blogs and their respective comment sections. Comments were NEVER enabled on either of my blog entries.] The next day, I posted a reply to some of the comments:

"Kathy Cortez wrote, 'For Lee to leave behind something she is ostensibly passionate about, because she doesn’t like a couple of messages posted on the internet is awe inspiring. Oh, the power we possess.'

Ms. Cortez, I find it equally awe inspiring that my blog post caused such an uproar among a group of professional genealogists, and that my idol, Elizabeth Shown Mills, not only read it but responded to it. Why, I am bowled over.

Unfortunately, and I know you will be so disappointed to hear this, it doesn’t change my mind. I am still closing my blog, and I still think SOME of you have an overinflated view of yourselves. But to each his own, I say.

I do, however, take exception to some of the words that have been put into my mouth. I fully support standards in genealogy. I just happen to believe I can meet and perhaps exceed those standards without an ADVANCED degree. If the rest of you feel you can’t achieve the same level of competence without one, well, it seems to me that’s YOUR problem. Why should I suffer for it?

I never once wrote that I am giving up genealogy or that I feel somehow inadequate as a genealogist or incapable of being a genealogist. What I wrote was that I can’t be one if it means I have to THINK like SOME of you do.

By the way, did any of y’all actually read MY blog post?

I did write, 'I have nothing of value to share.' A bit overdramatic I admit, but the truth is, the APG mailing list has given me reason to pause, to wonder aloud on my own personal blog even, 'Am I heading in the right direction for me?' For that, I thank each of you, because Elizabeth was right when she wrote, 'a professional list should not muzzle discussions of how to grow as professionals, lest it discourage those who love crawling through the underbrush in search of gravestones and think it would be fun to do that full time and get paid for it.' Now, when I finally decide what I want to do, it will be with my eyes wide open."

Furthermore, I want it understood that nothing written above is directed toward the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) as a whole. Some readers' responses indicated that they believed it was, and I apologize to anyone unjustly offended for not making myself more clear. On the other hand, I find it ironic that so much wrong was read into my words while being told I was reading too much wrong into theirs.

Nonetheless, many of the APG members are admirable people.

If you have any questions or comments you would like to make, please direct those to me at leeanders at gmail dot com. The folks who supported a fellow blogger and found themselves in the middle as a result  should not be required to defend my viewpoints nor atone for my sins.

~ Lee