Is It a Line or a Blur?: Controversy and the Art of History in Blog Posts

In musing upon how much to include in a blog post, I recently read an article from Mantra about what to and what not to include in conversations and on blogs. While most of the advice is helpful, I also remember reading from Dan Cohen’s book, Digital History, about how Public Historians are not into controversies that traditional historians are. I agree fully with Dan Cohen. I like presenting the information, and I’m not normally into making things rock, splash, or otherwise changing things unless they need changing. Half the time, I do not think that it is my call about whether things need changing because I am a student.

I have to admit, though, that whenever I told a professor at the AHA meeting that I was a student, they never treated me badly. Most of them actually wanted my opinions on things until I admitted that I probably knew a lot less about a given subject than they did. There was a particular Chinese historian who was simply fabulous who actually asked me why I had not gone directly into a doctoral program. When I told her my course of career and study, she commended my abilities to see the economy for the way it is and for attempting employ-ability in keeping my options as open as I could. apparently she is a retired teacher, and I would love to talk with her more.

Since starting graduate school, I have never felt so small and simultaneously had people who actually took my opinions seriously before. I am a serious person by nature, but that is due to the opposition that I normally face from literally every side for years. Gives a person strong muscles in the tenacity department. That said, I do not like being a controversial person but it seems the only way for distinction here. That is not a good enough reason for me to become that way. I like the ways of the nostalgia associated with gentility. I do not hurt others, and wish the same in kind. Peace is my goal, but I seek not for riches and honors of men but simply being good with God. Talking about religion openly on a blog seems something that is expressly controversial. Politics? Not so much into it, but I do not want representatives that treat people badly and I am sick with the inter-laced corruption divesting the people of any rights while other groups add to the band wagon. Conspiracy theorists argue such things for years as:

Icecream Shop Picture of Media Conglomerates

Ice Cream Shop Picture of Media Conglomerates

Icecream Parlor Picture

Rising Journalism Mediocrity Swamp










I will not take a stand on either issue here. But I do know I want to learn more,  gaining my own opinions on things, and dig down to the truthful heart of a matter. There are biases ranging everywhere driven by frequently septic purposes. I wish to remove the nasty, crude-oil layer of filtration and find out what really is happening. Maybe I am more like traditional historians than I think. That said, I want to facilitate and allow the people to crunch their own numbers and to do their own history. I see history as being an “everyman’s game” and not held by an elite class of people educated for the one purpose of educating more people in their way. I want history to matter to an individual specifically. That is the point of teaching it. Making a difference in someone’s life paradigms is what it is all about. Here’s to controversial soap box posts.

The GenealogyDr–More genealogical posts coming up.


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


Professional Versus Personal

I will write more about family history as time progresses. My family is a multi-layered European mutt land.

This week upcoming is AHA: American Historical Association’s Annual Meeting, and it is my challenge to figure out what are the best sessions for what I need. Although I do not like thinking in a “me” mentality, in cases like this I believe that I have no choice. I have zero previous experience with AHA. Although I had rigorous undergrad courses, they did not train out passive voice completely from my writing. Nor did they equip me for the “real world” of the historian. I am a good intermediate level genealogical researcher, writer, and everyone I know seems to come to me when they have questions in that regard. Being the poster child for something has good points, but it’s hard when I regularly get taken for granted. Complaints do not suit the situation, however. I have other interests, but this particular interest often effects everything else.

I think that being a historian and being active LDS is much more controversial than my background with family history, as controversial as that also is within my other field, library information science. I spent my time in Utah working within my trade, I did not know about and did not have avid interaction with academic historians. That  feels like a detriment, but I make up for it as fast and as well as I am able. The trade basis of my training makes my complaint make sense, but I feel like most of this new space where I can do what I want is up to me.

As I’ve looked over the program/catalog, I notice how many aspects of history that interest me. Yes, Mormon history is part of it, but that will be a life pursuit no matter what else happens. I am also starting to look into FAIR and especially the Apologetics. Luckily, a friend’s Dad is active in that group, but I’ve always thought that truth stands on its own and does not need defending. This is probably a naïve or sentimental viewpoint. The personal ideal is that people stop fighting and bickering and being dumb. That won’t happen for a long time likely, if ever, but it’s a dream that I don’t want to let die.

I am a fan of harmony, and that only happens when people aren’t completely self-absorbed. You look after your own interests, but you take care of needs first, then wants. One only needs so much, honestly. Most of Western society gravitates in the “wants” area. I don’t see life that way. I can’t afford it, and trying to live the life that I have, it doesn’t make sense. Sure, there are times when I buy chicken nuggets versus buying cabbage. (Cabbage being inexpensive, lasts a long time in the fridge, is really good for you, and highly versatile.) For use of this metaphor, chicken nuggets are much more expensive, but in the case of use, they’re a roommate’s favorite snack-type food and when she came into Midway last night, it was a craving that I felt like needed satiation. It wasn’t immoral, nor illegal, and I had the cash at the time so it worked. Call me sentimental, but I like doing things like that, and I think that were God in the backseat of my car in the drive-thru, He’d approve. And I hope that last bit doesn’t sound blasphemous. I figure that God works in daily life, even in the little things.

Concerning self-absorption, it’s easy for a single adult to fall into that group. It’s actually really easy for anyone to fall into that category, but the more gratitude-focused a person is, the less likely he/she trends there.

So there’s that thought process going on while planning out my AHA schedule. I want to go to the Mormon History session, go to the Digital scholarship session, wish dearly that the war trauma session was not held at the same time as I am starting to look into thanatology, but there isn’t that much on it outside of the war trauma session. I also need more info on programming apps, so I think that I may have to ask my Dad about it. I know computers, but I need to know more about programming, and I think that every humanities program in the country needs basic programming courses. Forget the math. Just give me the code. Not sure if that would work, but there must be some way to do this without knowing calculus. And there are ideas that need implementation.

The American History of Computing session happens to fall right during Church. *sigh* I think that I will be sending out a lot of emails to professors to find out more about their interests for the sessions to which I cannot attend. Maybe actual letters. Real letters get noticed. Emails do not. We shall see how all of this goes.’

One Tired Genealogy Doctor