Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Careers in Genealogy: My Own Humble Path

I just read Amy Coffin's "We Tree" entry about careers in genealogy, and her take on the subject.  Here's mine:

I have chosen to speak and write.  I do not make much money at it because, due to my health, I cannot work at it full time.  I do as much as I can, while getting the rest I need and while dealing with the occasional difficulties my health status tosses me.  So I'm a part-timer.

I chose speaking and writing because I enjoy talking about the subject, yet I am also very much a loner.  I enjoy solitude.  I just love sitting in a library or archive, tracking down genealogical or historical facts.  I also enjoy the process of writing -- taking all those facts and weaving them into a coherent whole.  I very much enjoyed putting together my last book, Non-Federal Censuses of Florida, 1784-1945: A Guide to Sources.  And now that the grant period is over, and all I need to do now is get an article written for the university's scholarly journal, the "project" concerning St. Augustine during the Second Spanish Period is no longer the "project."  It is the "book."

I write in a field that is not exactly known for blockbuster best-sellers, and I write about "niche" subjects within that small sphere.  That is all right with me.  I have made enough to further my education, picking up skills and knowledge which will make me more effective working on this particular book about St. Augustine, as well as further researches I plan on the colonial Spanish lineages and history of Florida.  And I hope that by presenting this examination of the families of St. Augustine, using a genealogical as well as historical approach, under the auspices of a university grant, I will have made my little tiny contribution toward bringing genealogy to its rightful place in the academy as one of the social sciences.  I agree with Amy, that great days are in store for genealogy.  I think recognition as an academic discipline will be one of those great things.

I am fortunate in that my husband has a retirement which, while not allowing us to be in any way extravagant, allows us to be comfortable.  I do not have to work to live.  I speak and write on genealogical/historical subjects because I enjoy it and because I do want to make some contribution to the field.  Each of us, doing our little bit and putting our one little brick into the walls, will help construct a fine edifice of genealogical knowledge.


Kerry Scott said...

One of the things I like about genealogy is that it's okay to be an introvert. That wasn't the case in my old line of work. This is a great job for people who enjoy working alone at least part of the time.

Amy Coffin, MLIS said...

Great post, Karen!