Thursday, November 5, 2015
Hiding in an Outpost Up North
Oh, dear. It seems there might be a tiff brewing in a neighborhood across the border. Why is it no good deed can go unpunished?
Since I've been floundering around in my desperate attempt to find missing ancestor Margaret Tully—last seen in the tiny village of Paris, Ontario, in 1861—I've been keeping a close eye on all developments Canadian. Especially on those resources which promise to help me find said Margaret via online access. After all, I'm in California and she—or whatever shred of evidence may remain to perpetuate her memory—was in Canada. Eastern Canada. Like, about twenty five hundred miles from here.
Over the years in which I've been pursuing the Tullys—backwards in time, of course, starting with their landing place in Chicago after that temporary Irish immigrant's lull in Paris—I've been gathering what resources I could find for Canadian genealogical research. I have always been thankful for the genealogical forums at RootsWeb and GenForum, where helpful fellow researchers have pointed me in the right direction, no matter which (awkward beginner's) questions I asked. But I've certainly been glad when the avalanche of digitized documentation began appearing on sites like FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com. Even better, I've just loved the appearance of those blogs written by Canadian genealogists—but then, perhaps you could say I'm partial to the blogging medium.
So it was with great interest that I read a recent post by long-time blogger, Lorine McGinnis Schulze. Lorine has been online for years—make that decades—so she is well known by those who have benefited from her many blogs, books and other genealogical publications. If you have ever heard of Olive Tree Genealogy, you have heard of Lorine.
Apparently, although I'm sure Lorine meant well—and provided some sterling ideas on how researchers and bloggers can support each other—it seems some have taken exception to her post.
Here's what happened.
First, let's get some background details. A few days ago, another Canadian genealogist posted a brief article on her blog (which I follow), including a side observation that "there has been a fair amount of discussion about the all too small number of Canadian genealogists recognized" in the survey known as "Rockstar Genealogist 2015."
What is the Rockstar Genealogist survey, you ask? Ah, here's some more background information. The Rockstar Genealogist survey is now an annual occurrence created and coordinated by another Canadian blogger (whom I follow) named John D. Reid. Voting this fall concluded his fourth year of hosting this online event.
The way Mr. Reid conducts this activity is to first open with a call for nominations, which is accessible by all online for a set period of time. Once nominations are closed, he opens the slate for all who are interested in voting—once again, conducted online. Voting is open to all who wish to participate and closes at a designated date and time.
This past year, the Rockstar Genealogist survey was completed by a total of just over two thousand participants. That, by the way, is the worldwide count for everyone who voted. Keep in mind, Mr. Reid also keeps tabulations on who it is that voted, and divulged that information—as well as the voting results, of course—in subsequent blog posts.
It is interesting to note that, of those two thousand genealogy enthusiasts participating—limited to what he dubs the "English-speaking genealogy world"—while there were votes garnered from Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the U.K., the U.S., and, of course, Canada, the largest voting block was comprised of Americans. In other words, 58.8% of votes came from the U.S., while the percent of voters from Canada edged in at just 11.87.
If you were not aware of this keenly-followed contest, you are likely not alone. Save for those two thousand some-odd in the know (people like me, following his blog because we are researching our Canadian heritage), the rest of the genealogy world has been oblivious.
On the other hand, at Mr. Reid's invitation—"Tell your friends; ask them to vote; suggest who to vote for"—I've seen some competitive and fun-loving bloggers lobby hard for their followers to vote for them. Frankly, I saw so much of that this year that I refrained from voting, myself.
When it came time for the big reveal, with barely twelve percent of the respondents voting hailing from Canada, was it any surprise that their best-loved, nationally-known genealogists didn't show well in the final count? They were out-voted by the larger, non-Canadian voting block.
Perhaps this was surprising, considering the idea was originated by a Canadian and promoted on a Canadian blog. Yet, apparently, since then, a number of Canadians have been disconcerted by the outcome of this Canadian poll. Thus, the comment by Gail Dever. And the post by Lorine McGinnis Schulze asking, "Where (and why) are Canadian genealogists hiding?"
What was encouraging about Lorine's response—"I'd like to see all of those who contribute to Canadian genealogy recognized, not just those who speak at conferences"—was encapsulated in her suggestion to draw up a list of Canadian genealogists and bloggers to share. Already, there is a list on her blog of nineteen names and links that she supplied, plus upwards of fifteen additional resources provided by her readers in the comments.
But it was in the comments that something started brewing. Perhaps someone took the post in the wrong spirit. Or misunderstood. Whatever happened, hopefully, everyone can evade further negative energy and get back on track, pursuing the pertinent issue: who are the Canadian genealogists, and how can we find them?
Lorine promised an updated, combined list in a subsequent post—likely, next week. No matter who you are—Canadian, American, Australian, New Zealander, Irish, British, Scottish—if you are researching any roots (or branches) in Canada, this will be a list you'll want to save.