What type of genealogist am I?


A short while ago Lorine from Olive Tree Genealogy posed the question “What type of genealogist are you?” Randy Seaver then picked it up on Genea-musings as part of the Saturday Night Genealogy Fun theme.  So belatedly here is my response.

After some reflection, and a rather arbitrary division of my research attributes, this is the breakdown I came up with. 

Detective/Hunter

I can happily trace anyone’s family history….I love the thrill of the chase and the sleuthing out of clues. Over the years I’ve stuck my nose in a number of family history pies, and written up stories for various of my friends who are interested to know the back story without the hunting for clues.

Scholar

My definition of this is probably slightly differently from Lorine’s. It’s not just about the citations though they’re important. It’s also about the historical context in which our ancestors lived so I’m forever referring to books, journals, etc etc. I’m not too fond of the dreaded red pen of editing, but I’m not afraid of it either.

Analyser

Again, a slightly different interpretation –I may not confine myself to one piece of information progressively but I will squeeze it to get the maximum output from it, and revisit from time to time to see it with fresh eyes.

Hoarder

Hang my head in shame, but I have a small streak of hoarder. I’ll happily share until I feel ripped off by someone – you know, no thanks, no acknowledgement, all take and no give, poor research practices.  Then I’ll withdraw and go into hoarder mode.

Planner

Another dollar-each-way bet. On some things I can be very methodical with lots of checklists and strategies. At other times I can be much less so.

Given the computing debacle of the past week I’m thinking I should reassess this component but then like the girl with the curl in the nursery rhyme, sometimes I’m good and sometimes I’m horrid.

Junkyard collector

I’m pleased to report I don’t even have one tiny bit of junkyard collector in me. It doesn’t faze me at all that my family tree doesn’t include thousands of names. I’m going for depth and quality – not mutually exclusive but not uncommon in those online family trees.

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9 thoughts on “What type of genealogist am I?

  1. LOVE this post Pauleen :-) … You’ll have to tell me how to make that “pie chart” one day :-D … Reckon that I’m mostly an “Ancestor Finder”, which Lorine suggests, although I love the thrill of the chase… so there’s a lot of “Hunter/ Detective” there, but no interest in doing it for complete strangers. However, always willing to provide tips, etc…
    I fit within your interpretation of “Scholar”, “Analyser” & “Hoarder”… however I feel NO shame, at all, in slamming the doors shut on people who “rip me off”, taking all my hard work, claiming ownership etc. SLAM BANG!!! ha ha ha…
    Am a HOPELESS planner :-( but is the way I best work. Althought not a “Junkyard Collector” am very thankful for some of the leads from those online family trees but crucial is the sifting & sorting… i.e. chuck out the junk and treasure the pearls when they appear.
    Thanks for another thought provoking, and fun, post Pauleen…
    PS not surprising that “the girl with the curl” nursery rhyme is the one that I’ve always identified with :-D

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    • Glad it provoked some interest and identification Catherine! An AF heh? Interesting… I’m definitely with you on the slam the door concept. I guess we all work best within our natural style re planning. Perhaps I should follow your lead re the online trees but it usually raises my blood pressure ;-) Pleased to have found another curl soulmate :-)

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    • The pie charts: you put what you want to graph into an Excel spreadsheet then you can produce a pie chart, bar chart yada yada. You need to cut and paste the pie chart into a photo editor so you can save it as a photo file to insert in the blog. Or at least that’s how I do it all. Hope I’ve tempted you.

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  2. oh, my, you are my kind of genealogists and soul mate — although I am a story teller first and foremost, how I go about my storytelling, is exactly how you describe being a genealogist. Loved the pie chart — i wonder if one can do a pie chart within a pie chart, within a pie chart — oh way too much. Thanks for the insight.

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    • You are more focused on general story telling than I am Joan but we are definitely as one on the rest of it. The stories we excavate are what make family history so rewarding. As to all those pie charts…..aagh!

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  3. Another great post and I enjoyed reading your analysis and comments. I can relate to so much of what you say. I am definitely the Hunter/Detective and love getting involved in the chase, even if it is not my own family – it is the fascinating stories we unearth that are important. I like to think I am an organised person, but there are times when, in a rush, I don’t return photographs, papers etc. into my filing system – and before I know where I am, I am in a guddle and need a major sort out! I would add another definition – The Writer – I find I am now writing more than researching, such is the pull of blogging. Thank you for getting us to question our styles.

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    • I’m not surprised you’re a fellow H/D Susan…I can tell from the style of your posts. I can definitely relate to a muddle and yes there are times when I’m organised and times when it goes to hell in a handcart as evidenced by the computer problems. I agree that adding Writer would be good though I suspect for Lorine it was implicit in the Scholar element. Like you I enjoyed thinking about how I do my research. Cheers Pauleen

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  4. I like the detective/puzzle part and have gone down many a side path of cousins of cousins many times to find out their stories. Since I started my A-Z of streets my researching of my family has slowed down. The only thing I like the online trees for is when I find photographs of people and I KNOW it is who I am looking for. Too many wrong connections and “facts” for me otherwise.

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    • I’m with you re the online trees Kristin. You’ve been putting a lot of work into your A to Z so it’s not surprising that you haven’t got much other research done, but what a great set of family stories you’ll have for your descendants.

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