Views from AHA: Modern History and How to Cope

There are a lot of changes needed in the ways of teaching history, of integrating formats into the general perceptions and bringing history to a modern audience. Some of these methods came across AHA with beauty and grace. Pioneers in historical fields finally meet with the cultural metamorphosis that computers made on the rest of academia ten or twenty years ago. Web 2.0 is the current standard, but history is not yet working well with Web 3.0. Social networking tools, now commonplace in general society, make a standard media outlet that attracts and demands attention. History, unless dealing with 1900-present, generally deals with the deceased. Web 3.0, while connecting the living, needs a voice within the ranks of AHA to connect to the dead on an individual level. There is a strong disconnect between AHA, FGS, NGS, and APG. This is unfortunate on a good day, and damning on a bad one. There is professional bias, but that needs to drop.

Genealogical researchers, while anyone may become one by self-training, do not frequently receive proper training. There are schools that teach proper technique, methodology, etc., and those are rare albeit wonderful programs gaining prominence in the world-wide revival of genealogical studies. It is not only the lack of professional genealogical researchers presenting at AHA in Chicago, but where were the museum professionals? Where were the historical society reps? Although this seems a bit heretical in stating, there was one participant in the Graduate School/Early Professional Career track who mentioned that AHA should have “Professors” inserted between Historical and Association. At AHA, I was the only Masters student there from what I could tell. No one could tell the difference between me and anyone else from looking at me, but I could feel the pressure to become a PhD. While various professors were kind and cordial, it appears to be a lonely, solitary existence. Groups form among specific narrowly defined disciplines, but my curiosity about the future of history made me consider THATCamp and anything digital as my most important sessions for attendance, and I could not attend most of them.

The best area was where vendors congregated, and I spent time with HistoryIT and the Minnesota Population Center in forming an idea for an app blending the multi-year census data with libraries, archives, and repositories of a genealogical nature with a Wiki emphasis for incorporation of ethnic data and emphasis on cemetery plotting. WikiMap is something that takes more knowledge of the topic than I have now, but maybe my Digital Media class this semester will steer me in a proper direction. Although PhD thought processes rotate through my mind, I need to finish the Masters first. I work outside of academia and do not get paid to go to school. Debt is no one’s friend, and it makes me scared. It may as well be poison administered by degrees, pun intended. I have no choice but to work hard and keep going as hard and long as I have to to finish these and be ready for whatever lay ahead.

I left a great dinner and the conference pumped, rearing to work, and exhausted. Now, I am still exhausted, but I start classes this week and I feel old right now. My internal chronological time line, usually not a factor that matters much daily, shows how much I missed due to personally induced oblivion to the outside world and numbness until August 2010 from family tragedy in 2005. Oblivion and numbness do not need outside vices as catalyst for inducement. I have a lot of catch-up to play in the digital world history sphere, especially according to the articles due for my first class reading. I hope that I survive this semester as well as last semester.

I’m nervous, but God was right when He told me that this would be exciting. Oh my word, wow. It’s time to find the good in life amid gray days and self-reflection turning to personal doubts. I can do this. God wouldn’t have me here unless there was a way of doing it with His help. Have to work hard, and have to do as well as possible. Anything less is unfitting for a heroine. That is my plan. I need to be the heroine in my life, not the supporting cast to a time stream.

The Genealogy Doctor



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