Saturday, October 19, 2019

Inaugural Post

After much deliberation, I finally decided to start my own genealogy blog. Why me, and why this blog (and its strange title)? Read on...

Who Am I?

A good way to begin answering this question is by explaining who I am not.

I am not:

-A certified genealogist
-Any kind of professional genealogist
-An industry merchant

In other words, I am not someone whose living or "bottom line" depends upon genealogy goods/services in any way. Like so many other hobbyists (and "hobbyist" is quite the best way to describe me), I do it purely for fun and enrichment. My career as a musicologist and college professor takes the lion's share of my time. This remains my first passion and primary focus.

However, it is true that I devote considerable leisure time to the pursuit of genealogy, and have done so for more than a decade. During this span, I finished graduate school, landed a tenure-track academic position, started a family, and began to produce professional scholarship in my field. This has coincided with steady absorption in my favorite hobby. I routinely follow the major blogs and podcasts, and keep up with news relating to the big companies and developments. As my professional scholarship has matured, I have gradually gained skill and confidence as a genealogist. In fact, these endeavors have enriched one other. (This subject may well form the basis for a future post!) I still have much to learn, but I'm far enough along the genealogical path to perhaps offer an interesting perspective to my readers.
Which leads to the second question...

Why This Blog?

The title and tagline for "Once Removed" were not chosen idly. They say something not only about my own position in relation to the genealogy world, but also about the kind of content that will feature here. It is possible that you may meet me at a future genealogy conference or event, but I'm not in any way an industry insider. My posts here will often reflect this fact.

Because, free from obligation to genealogy companies or customers, and having an academic research background, what I aim to do is provide candid advice to the beginner who wants to improve and is willing to be honest with him- or herself. My posts will not only address things like which sources you should use and when/why, but also which products and services. They will share what I've learned through trial-and-error, and will not shy away from discussing the mistakes I've made. I will offer personal opinions which, while respectfully put, may nonetheless contradict common assumptions or conventional wisdom. I anticipate that a good portion of my entries will be (or resemble) reviews.

Above all, I want this to be the kind of blog that I wish had existed when I was first learning the genealogical ropes. To be sure, there are many genealogy blogs I've greatly enjoyed (and still enjoy!) reading, and which have taught me much. But with some of them I've always wondered an array of things concerning their authors' personal practices and habits that (it seems to me) they've occasionally appeared hesitant to divulge. I can't say that I will be completely uninhibited, but I aim to be less inhibited while still being on the right side of decorum. 

Which is not to say that I won't ever change my opinions. Sometimes I will, and I also expect to continue growing as a genealogist for the life of this blog. Maybe tracking this progression will itself be of value to my readers. A central theme of "Once Removed" is this: as much as possible, strive to be cognizant of what you don't know, and be open to improvement and correction. In that spirit, I hope my readers will correct me when necessary. No historian is perfect, and serious research is not for those who are too afraid of being wrong.

I think that about covers the main themes of this blog. Others may emerge as more posts appear. Stay tuned!

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