Does the future of genealogy rely on a more inclusive history?

A common topic of conversation among genealogists, especially in societies, is how to attract younger generations to develop an interest in their family history.

NextGen Genealogy Network has taken on the challenge, and at least two virtual societies have been created within recent months, likely with the 20-somethings, 30-somethings, and 40-somethings in mind.

Much of the conversation about younger people focuses on the teaching and research methods and the online tools.

What people are not doing, however, is looking at the very nature of family history, how the definition of family is changing, and that people do not always fall into the traditional roles established many centuries ago.

In the final post on the blog, Young & Savvy Genealogists, Heather Collins has written a thought-provoking piece about the future of genealogy and how “diversity and inclusion need to be the the subject of continual soul searching for each and every genealogist and family historian.”

She writes, “The habit of consistently using heterosexual married couples as the basis for the stories we tell and preserve needs to change. … If we want new generations of people to join us in this community, we need to make it possible for them to preserve and record their own stories, many of which do not follow this model.”

To reach the next generation of genealogists, Ms. Collins says we must “commit now to create more inclusive history.”

She writes, “The tools and resources we use now have not kept up with those changing needs. And until genealogy is for everyone, until every kind of story has a place on the shelf and in the tree, many of the newest generation of researchers–who might have taken part in genealogy–will not want to join and participate with us. …

“How can we be trusted to tell the stories of families in the communities we care about if we’re willing to ignore, erase, or cast aside the stories we don’t want to tell? Those moments come to all of us in the research we do, in one way or another: from slavery to infidelity, from mixed-race marriages to LGBTQ+ family members and their partners. No matter how much we feel we’re doing, we can always do better.”

I’m sorry to see the Young & Savvy Genealogists blog close shop. It has been managed for a few years by two women in their 20s, Heather Collins from the United States and Caitlin Gow from Australia. Their posts were well written, educational, entertaining, and sassy. Many of the posts contained fun video clips that were a hoot and designed to attract the young — and even the not so young.

This last post certainly provides food for thought.

You can read the final blog post, Saying Goodbye, on Young & Savvy Genealogists, and read about Ms. Collins’ new venture and website, The DIY Genealogist.

This entry was posted in Genealogy for Young People and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.