22 December 2011

Thankful Thursday - Genealogy as a Community

Much has been said in the last week or so about Genealogy as a Profession and genealogy as a hobby. Having performed genealogical research over the last 15 plus years, I believe I currently fall in the latter category, until the time I have some sort of professional certification to verify my level of expertise. (That's all I'll say about that for now.) I will say, though, I have been a Professional in two other industries: the Financial industry and Archival Sciences (my current profession). These very divergent industries actually have a thread that ties them together: Research. In both industries, solid research and the ability to glean seemingly unrelated information into usable form are the cornerstones of solid professional work. A lot rides on the abilities of the person doing the research to locate information, arrange that information into a usable format, describe it for both professional, and sometime non-professional, audiences and make that information accessible. 

This is also what we do in the Genealogical industry. What sets the Genealogical industry apart is it's HEART. I know no other professional community that supports its members in such a manner. It makes no difference whether you are off-line or on-line; people in the genealogical community truly CARE about each other. It is that genuine care and concern that creates the conduit through which so much information passes. 

Today, I am thankful for the generosity of Denise Crawford, who lives in Ohio. I do not know Denise, other than her email address. Why am I mentioning her? Denise's name came up on a website for look ups for an obscure book of cemetery headstone inscriptions in a tiny cemetery in Ohio. Her simple email to me this morning was the greatest gift I've received in a very long time. Here's the excerpt from the email:

“I am happy to help - 
pg. 227
Bloomfield Cemetery, South Bloomfield Twp
Stone fence enclosure
John Richards, 1784 - 1847
Mary Richards,  1785 – 1855”

I’ve looked for this tiny bit of information for more than 10 years. That's not the best part. THIS is the part that proves to me our genealogical heart beats as one:

“Knox County, Ohio Will Abstracts 1808-1877, vol. 1
John Richards,  date: 23 Aug 1847,  Box: 18  File:278,  Bk:B pg.281-282
brothers widow Mary, two nephews Edmund & Abner Richards
*you can request a copy of this will and the information listed below from the Knox County Probate court.

Ohio Wills and Estates to 1850: An Index
John Richard, W-1847,  KN, wbB p281; cpmb0  p615
 KN = Knox County
W = will
wb = will book, will record
cpmb - Common Pleas Court Minute Book
p = page

Merry Christmas, hope this is what you needed.”

What I needed? Seriously?!! Denise took a few extra minutes and found for me something I would have had to go to Ohio to find. This 'extra' minute on her part provided for me a key to a document I've searched for a very long time. And I have no doubt she provided this information because she knows how fickle research can be. You think you found the right thing, and it turns out to be wrong. Or it's right, but not what you expected. 

I know Denise is not alone. There are hundreds of Denises out there, corresponding with strangers asking for help. Heck, even I went to a cemetery to take pictures of headstones for someone I didn't know (at the time) because I knew if the shoe was on the other foot that I would appreciate the time and effort it took to do that. 

So, today, I have immense gratitude that I have been re-introduced to the Genealogical community. Genealogy is not just a Profession, or an Industry. It is the definition of community, "a social group...that shares historic heritage." But we are more than just a community, we are a family. Like any family, we may have our disagreements, but in the long run, we love and admire one another for our differences and likenesses and share the joy of discovering our human history. Together.


  1. Well put, Laura! We all have benefited from the acts of kindness of others in this sharing community, but to stand back and see it distinctly for what it is becomes a good reminder of the uniqueness of this type of connection.

  2. Right on, Laura, what a wonderful post. THIS is what the community is.

  3. Great post, Laura. That sums it all up very nicely!

  4. Well said, Laura! Glad we're part of "the family" :)


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