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Friday, December 19, 2014

Ferguson: Unintentional Bias - Call to Action for program chairs

What strikes me is the mutual respect expressed by Geoff Rasmussen and George Geder  and others as we've discussed publicly and privately What does Ferguson teach the genealogy community? Mutual respect is key.

I also see George's suggesting we actually look at history objectively and realistically. He said "I feel that American history cannot be truthfully told without input and stories from African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Latin Americans."

There has been a big thrust in the past several years to involve youth in family history.

Now it's time to embrace diversity and provide programming that attracts people with diverse ancestral connections.

Let's embrace each other, encourage each other, as we strive to employ the GPS (Genealogical Proof Standard) in our research.

Let's forgive each other, and see beyond the color of our skin.

On a personal level, I wish the British Institute would hold a series of Welsh research, but if I can see a schedule that include a series every other year, then I can switch gears, take a course to improve my writing or learning more about DNA. I cannot expect Scottish, Irish and English courses to fall to the wayside.

If diversity of ethnic, religious and locality studies is at least on the docket that's a step in the right direction. Hopefully, RootsTech, the National Genealogical Society, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and other major genealogy education providers on and off the Net will get this message. 
Ol' Myrt here can just hear the folks at saying "She's off her rocker, RootsTech topics cannot be decided until a few months before the conference."

To this I say "Seriously? I'm not talking anything more than having a focus topic, as Samford has done. Seeing that focus my dear RootsTech, will shift your focus toward diversity." What would that look like, RootsTech/FamilySearch?
  • 2014 - African Continent Research - FamilySearch missionaries are documenting the oral histories of families by providing youth with equipment who then return info. (By the way, where are the results of this work going to appear?)
  • 2015 - African American Research - When professional genealogists realize this is your focus, they will be encouraged to develop unique presentations in workshop, panel discussion and classes. As the public recognizes the focus, they'll be encouraged to participate.
  • 2016 - Focus on Spanish Language Research. If demographics are important, recall simply the single largest segment of LDS Church members and an increasing percentage of the US population speak Spanish.
  • 2017 - Focus on Native American Research.Thinking globally, this could be called "Indigenous Peoples."
  • 2018 - Focus on Asian American Research, realizing the the Pacific Islands and places in South America were part of a migration pattern, maybe this might better be styled "Pacific Rim"?

So, my dear friends at #RootsTech, #FamilySearch, #NGSgenealogy, #FGS and #WDYTYALive, how can we take the lead in attracting greater participation and avoid what Eva Goodwin calls "unintentional bias?"


Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

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