Monday, September 12, 2011

And So She Risks Everything by Being Completely Honest

I have great hesitation to write this post but I'm going to do it anyway.  It's too honest and maybe it will open up divisions between genealogists like the acrimonious ones between working moms and stay-at-home moms (yes, for those of you not in the know, those two groups duke it out).

On Saturday I gave some talks at a conference.  Before my "Deeds and Probate" talk I strolled around talking to the members of the audience.  I came upon two people who identified themselves as graduates of the Boston University Genealogical Certificate Program.  We were chatting pleasantly when out of the blue one of them asks me, "Well, what are your qualifications for giving this talk?"  She was joking, I think, maybe.  But it came too soon after dropping the fact that they were BU Certificate grads, of which I am not.

In fairness, it's a good question.  And that's why we provide titles for our talks, descriptions and a bio that tells the audience in advance who we are and what kind of experience we have.  That way attendees can make a decision about whether a talk would be worthwhile or not.

I was a bit caught off guard by that question.  Any one who knows me well, knows that I enter into a state of shocked silence when caught off guard. Probably one of the few times I am ever silent.  I'm never one with a good quick come-back. I gave the person a sort of lame, "all I could think of off the top of my head" answer.

But I've been thinking about this and will probably will continue to do so for awhile.  What qualifications do I have?  None really, on paper.  I don't have a certificate from Boston University or any other program.  I haven't been to Samford, and I am not a Board Certified genealogist.

What do I have? Yes, I am self-taught (unless you want to consider the twenty years of indoctrination I received from my genealogist mother).  I have been reading the APG lists, old and new, since 2005.  Then the TGF list after that started.  I don't comment like I used but I still read them.  Those lists exposed me to Elizabeth Shown Mills, Elissa Scalise Powell and many of the other top genealogists of this generation. I absorbed their words, heeded their advice, studied as they suggested and drowned myself in books to lead me on my way.  I felt I couldn't have better teachers.  And while I've never met Elizabeth Shown Mills I still regard her as a mentor, as she is to so many, because I was willing to accept everything she had to offer.  Elissa I've had the pleasure of meeting, hearing her present and talking with her one on one.  Sometimes even a casual conversation is a teaching moment.

And no I don't have any credentials but I've thrown myself into the genealogical community, particularly in New England.  I've tried to get out there and meet everyone.  I've had the honor of getting to know, little by litte, Melinde Lutz Byrne, Helen Schatvet Ullmann and Sharon Sergeant.  Still to this day, the most terrifying moment of my speaking career was while giving a sparsely-attended talk when I was still green as could be and Melinde and Helen were both present.  And did they go easy on me with the questions? No, but I'm a better genealogist for it.

As for my work, I am a full-time historical researcher.  I use that term instead of genealogist because I wear many hats.  Sometimes I do genealogical research, much of the time I am researching house histories and other times you will find me researching cemeteries or gravestone carvers.  I work eight plus hours a day on research depending on my schedule.  Sometimes it's for clients, sometimes for a writing project and sometimes background research for something bigger.  I have researched in most registry of deeds, probate courts, archives and libraries in Eastern Massachusetts.

No, I don't have a certificate from a genealogy program.  Sorry, how many of their graduates are full-time researchers and don't hold down a second, non-genealogy related job?  Would I like to have a certificate? YES!!  Yes, I really would.  But I've made some choices in my personal life and that precludes me from committing to days or weeks away from home or even ponying up the money for these programs when it needs to be used for something else.

I do believe that credentialed programs are the way of the future.  And I would like to become certified some day.  When the kids get a little older I hope I can make that happen.

In the meantime, how am I going to look on paper?  I will continue to be credential-less.  Does that make me less qualified to give talks and to share my experience?

I struggle with this.  I've got more than just something but what is it and how do I say it when someone hits me with a question like "How are you qualified to give this talk?"

Maybe you can tell me.  I'm done venting for now.  I've got deadlines and research to do so I'm heading back into the trenches...


  1. Marian, don't be shy or modest when asked such a question.

    You DO have credentials - your years of experience working firsthand IN these records, your years of studying the records, your years of LEARNING about these records - what exists, where it can be found, and what one can learn from them, your years of reading and educating yourself about these records.

    That is what I would say in response. Give a precise number of years if you feel you must - for example "I have studied probate records extensively for 25 years"

    It does not matter if you are self-taught or educated in a classroom. Your knowledge and expertise is as valid as anyone else's.

    So don't be modest, don't feel apologetic or less worthy, just state the facts that back up your credentials as a valid and experienced researcher/genealogist.

  2. Those hecklers certainly showed their ignorance. How could they not know that every application to speak is scrutinized by the program chair and committee?

    The prestigious Board for Certification of Genealogists recognizes candidates aren't required to have formal genealogical education when applying for certification. The BCG website clearly points to alternative studious pursuits. See

    You are a marvelous speaker and writer, Marian.

  3. It will take me some time to comment on this, Marian. It's disturbing on so many levels. But short answer, you need a pithy elevator response along the lines of "Well, I actually make a living as a boots on the ground historical researcher and have for x number of years."

  4. Marian, we have never met in person, but you are my go-to professional for many genealogical subjects including house histories and location-based expertise.

    You share your knowledge through your blog and other aspects of social media. You share your knowledge through webinars that stretch across the globe. You are kind and generous with your time, sharing your expertise when it is needed--even if family responsibilities are calling.

    Degrees and credentials don't mean a thing if you don't have the experience to back it up. You have that and more.

    Try not to dwell on that scene. Your accomplishments are extensive. I am more impressed by your experience and knowledge than that of a certificate holder who does not have the same national reputation.

  5. Well, look at it this way: The person who challenged you was sitting in the audience, not speaking themselves. Who was speaking? You were! So there you have it. Better to do, do, do, and establish a long and successful track record of speaking and publishing than to worry about certificates. :-)

  6. Marian, What they said was appalling and ignorant. You are not required to become certified/accredited or have a piece of paper from a university in order to be a genealogist. Yes, most of us would like to do just that eventually, but I think many of us do it for ourselves. To show that we can and to be able to say, "I did it." Your experiences aren't diminished because you don't have that piece of paper. Anyone that has met you (I hope to someday) or has read your blog (I do every time you post), knows that you are an exceptional and competent person.

    Sometimes life gets in the way of getting that paper. I've been wanting to get it done for almost a year and little kids, Cub Scouts and PTA-ing have prevented it, but I'll do it some day (sooner hopefully).

    Shame on them. Don't think on it for too long. It really isn't worth giving them the time. I'm sure your presentation was absolutely spectacular!

  7. Ah, the drawers of the margins. I encounter them all the time. My take: they are jealous, especially if you have made a name for yourself in a niche field of genealogy and in a short span of time. I remember you and I had a phone conversation once and you accurately described me as sort of a "bull in a china shop" when it comes to the genealogy community - a badge I wear proudly. I don't ask permission. I'd rather ask for forgiveness afterwards.

    You are my go to person for house history - I even said so publicly during the APG PMC last year in Knoxville when, during Paula Stuart-Warren's presentation on exploiting your niche. Don't listen to your detractors. Don't give them a channel.

    My solution for those who want to draw a margin as to who is "in" and who is "out" in terms of genealogy? Draw a bigger circle around them, and include them. And simply say: "This is where the margin is. There's room for everyone at the genealogy table. Even you."

  8. What happened to you seems to me, as a British outsider, the sad outcome of the growing American obsession with rules, regulations and qualifications for genealogy, under the guise of "standards" and "professionalism". Over here, we do perfectly good genealogical research without the benefit of guidance from the NGS, APG or Elizabeth Shown Mills. Nor do we give a hoot what qualifications someone has to do research or to give a genealogy talk. All that matters is whether they are any good at it. The British have long cherished the "cult of the gifted amateur" and with good reason. It won us an Empire and many victories against European rivals who had a much more professional and scientific approach to the arts of war but who lacked our flexibility, resourcefulness, genius for improvisation and sheer bloody-mindedness. (The same qualities, incidentally, which enabled your British descended amateur army to beat our professional soldiers during the American Revolution.) The great innovators of the Industrial Revolution were not professionally qualified. Nor was Leonardo da Vinci. Most successful entrepreneurs have no relevant professional qualifications. So be proud of your expertise, however it was acquired, and to hell with anyone who thinks you need a piece of paper to make you legitimate. And if someone asks you again, "What are your qualifications for giving this talk?" I suggest you answer: "I know my subject inside out and I am an excellent speaker. But if you think you are better qualified to do it, go right ahead and take my place."

  9. Marian, I want to say AMEN to all those who have posted before. I also have a certificate in genealogical research from Boston University, but I wouldn't think to question your qualifications to speak! Your blogs are insightful and well-written. And I look forward to learning more from you in a webinar next week!

  10. I understand this post on a number of levels. As a beginning speaker making my first presentation this summer, I was scared to death that there would be a potential troublemaker in attendance. Moving forward, I still am, but at least that first one is out of the way, and I think I won't be nearly as rattled if it happens.

    I am also essentially self-taught, in most of the same ways you were. I have all the desire in the world to go to Samford, BU, and whatever else comes down the pike. A history degree might be pretty cool. I'd love to pony up a couple hundred hours and dollars to get certification taken care of. But I am not in a position at this stage of the game to do any of that, so it will have to wait.

    I sense in your post, a bit of the same feeling I have - that regardless of how competent we actually are, there is a little nagging voice in our overly self-critical heads that won't let us forget we haven't done these things yet.

    I won't say there aren't genealogists (on both sides) that want to fight to the death over certified vs non-certified, degreed vs. non-degreed, BCG certification vs...well, pretty much everyone else :) But I find it pretty easy to dismiss the few who are like that because it is clear to me most of them have much larger issues driving those gripes.
    Of course, that's easy for me to say, they weren't in MY audience:)

    Maybe Thomas and I could be bouncers at your next presentation?


  11. It’s all too easy to get sucked in and dragged off down the “qualifications” rabbit-hole these days, and it’s not just in genealogy. If it weren’t, those distance-learning (campus-free) “universities” with their ubiquitous late-night teevee ads would be out of business. They thrive on and profit off people wanting to own some spiffy “qualifications.”

    Still, there’s a huge difference between expertise/ability and “qualifications /credentials.” Tom MacEntee and Caroline Gurney (above) have correctly zeroed in on the right thinking here.

    When you’re good at what you do, people notice. They ask you to speak so that you can share your knowledge with them. In this case, you were asked to speak at an event and were therefore – by definition - the “expert” on the topic being presented.

    The failure of your questioner to recognize that simple and obvious fact says a whole lot more about that person’s ability to do good background research than it does about your obviously recognized talent!

  12. On what planet is it socially acceptable to say something like that to someone? If they didn't think you were qualfied, they should have picked another talk. they not know how to work Google? Because they could have discreetly looked you up and seen who you were. Shouldn't genealogists know how to find info about a person? Isn't that pretty much the whole point?

    I think we're seeing more and more of this as genealogy becomes more democratic. It's harder and harder for a ruling cabal to retain its grip on a group as the internet and social media open up the world.

    (I do hate when ESM's name comes into these comments though, because in my experience, she's not that way at ALL. She's actually one of the least snooty people in the entire world of genealogy.)

  13. Marian, I'd have told them that while they were sitting in a classroom studying "how to do it", you were out in the field DOING it. You've got
    years of practical on hands experience and knowledge and they were damn lucky to be sitting there as you shared that with them.

  14. Marian,
    I read your blog and have heard your webinars. You walk the talk and are very knowledgeable. I enjoy learning from you and your experience speaks volumes. Don't let the naysayers and trouble makers shake your confidence. A piece of paper is nice to have but not necessary. No one is superior here - we all have a common goal of helping others solve a problem, meet a need or find a solution in our chosen interest of genealogy. I applaud you for taking the time to bring your knowledge to others. Keep up the good work!

  15. Amen to all those supportive posts that have come before me and ask that you not let anyone make you feel inferior. One of my favorite Eleanor Roosevelt quotes, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

    As Dorothy found out while visiting Oz - having a piece of paper doesn't necessarily mean you are an expert. Oftentimes those who flaunt their degree's do so because they fear that a self-taught family historian has the same level of "book smart" but lacks something you cannot teach: passion and desire.

  16. Perhaps that comment, while hurtful at the moment, is what you need to spur you into action and make a decision about certification. It is not necessary to go anywhere or take any special courses or seminars in order to become certified. While it cost you about $270 initially, that is certainly not unreasonable or out of reach. With your experience you probably already have the case study/kinship report. Take a careful look at the BCG website and examine the FAQs and information about how to become certified. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. Become certified is often rewarding because it proves we *can* meet high standards in our work.

  17. I agree with the above posts in that I follow your blog because I learn from you. You know more than I do about research, so I come to sit at your feet and learn.
    I am 84 with great grandchildren; you mention children at home, so you are chronologically younger than I. Long ago (in my twenties), I discovered that my personal definition of age seemed to be: "Older than I am" = I learn from this person; "My age" = we exchange knowledge with reasonable equality; and "Younger than I am" = I am in a position to teach this person more than the person teaches me. In that sense, you are much older than I, and with all your experience will probably always remain so. To me this is good.
    I spent 31 years in the field of education, as an elementary school teacher and as a text-book editor. My only piece of paper is my BS in Education (which is, of course, quite out of date by now). But I believe the 39 years counts for lots.
    As several others have said, the certificate shows that you have worked on your discipline; a certificate isn't the only way to show this.
    Please continue to teach me.

  18. Oh Marian I'm sorry you had to deal with that comment. I agree with Thomas that there is room for everyone. I have no certification. I am self-taught. I have dreams of going for certification and attending Samford and doing the BU course, but family and finances prevent that at this moment. We all have to start somewhere and I'm sure those women with BU certificates did too - maybe they just forgot.

    I agree with another poster who said something about each of us having that doubt in our head. We all have it. I was scared to death when I gave my first talk in April. Not all the questions were great but I lived and learned. And when I doubt I know enough on a topic I seek someone out who knows. Just like I sought you out when I was considering doing house histories as part of my business. You shared all your knowledge, answered my numerous questions and I was able to get going. Isn't that what we all should be doing - sharing what we do best? No one person can know it all - at least I haven't met anyone like that yet.

    I do hope to meet you in person some time and take a peek at one of your finished house histories. I am proud of my first one but I'm sure there are many different ways it can be done, as we discussed at the end of that project.

    Please continue speaking and blogging and sharing. You are very valuable to the genealogical community.

  19. I am touched by all the comments and show of support both here and via email. Perhaps I should have titled this "Ah, yes, she has an Achilles heel!" That person certainly found it!

    I would like to second Kerry Scott's comments above about Elizabeth Shown Mills. Even though I haven't met Elizabeth I am convinced that she is one of the most supportive and encouraging practicioners of genealogy to anyone who is interested in learning about the field. Also, it is my belief that she is truly the most patient person alive. If only I had hers skills of tact.

    Also, perhaps this isn't a discussion so much of credentialed vs. non-credentialed as I originally supposed. My friend, Debbie, may have perhaps said it best with this comment she wrote on my Facebook wall (which I copy here with her permission):

    "The division I see in this is not one of qualified v. unqualified. I see the deeper issue as folks who tend toward bragging and tooting their own horns (how did the fact they had graduated from the program even fit the conversation and situation?), and folks who are modest and have yet to find a place in their minds that says it is okay to speak of your skills and talents without crossing a line and becoming a tiresome braggart. Write an elevator speech that hits on the facts of your work and qualifications. Edit it and read it until it flows confidently from your mouth. You have no need to apologize or feel attacked for choosing your method of learning. There is no wrong way to learn."

  20. Hello my dearest Marian, I can feel your frustration in this blog.

    We both come from the same building blocks in genealogy the majority of professional genealogists. We also have in common young ones that needed our attention before delving into credentials. Remember the majority of credentialed were beyond that stage in life. But until that time comes when you are able to wrap your hard work into a pretty bow, you must stand tall and have faith in yourself and keep doing what you do!

    I do recommend for you to maintain and see your own confidence in being able to teach others prior to that bow that you keep an ongoing business/self-improvement plan & resume. It will remind yourself that you are quite capable & you won't stumble when faced with critics such as those you've mentioned.

    I have faith in you & enjoy sharing thoughts & work as a professional...with or without that pretty bow. :)

  21. When I received my degree, in 1972, my university did NOT have a computer science degree, so my degree was in straight MATH. I worked for many years as a software engineer after that and even those who came along WITH computer science degrees didn't question MY ability with my years of experience as I'd shown I knew what I was doing. I've been doing genealogical research since 1977, totally self taught, and teach several classes each year at our genealogical society. Everyone here is excited to learn from everyone else - no certification required. Keep on keeping on and place those who asked about certification in the same category as those who try and say they have their lines back to "adam" and those who list someone elses online family tree as their source.... (meow on my part)!! Not saying there's anything wrong with certification, either, as I've see that the requirements are very stringent and I have a marvelous friend with genealogy letters after her name, but genealogy is fun and for sharing with everyone.

  22. It must be the FULL MOON, I was recently asked why I choose certain speakers. Then in the next breathe was told I should use the APG list.
    1. I used new speakers because we were requested to find new speakers
    2. New speakers are APG
    3. It told me they did not do their homework.

    Marian I also hope to finish my certification, but we have raised five children helped with 10 grandchildren and now a great grandchild.
    In order to have genealogy we need to have family first.
    I read you all the time and we do converse ever so often, I may be lucky and meet you one day.

    After 50 years of research and 30 of it intense research for one line or another or for one person or another(with or without pay). I have to say
    I have met some interesting people that definitely fit the bill of your commentators and have gone home to assess myself and hopefully be a better person for it.

    I want to say Thanks for posting this to the world. I read your posts and share with you often. Please do not stop.
    I also say I am a Family HIstorian and Genealogist to cover all phases of my research over the years.
    I loved Thomas's response and Caroline Gurney. I really liked them all but those seem to hit the spot for me. Hugs and Blessings Genealogy Sister.

  23. You know, the more I think about it, the more I like your friend Debbie's comment.

    This isn't about certification. This is about rudeness. Certification is great, but it has nothing to do with how you were treated by these people. If you'd been certified, the way they treated you still would have sucked just as much.

  24. Perhaps someone should have reminded the folks with BU certificates that it is a wonderful course, but one step in an educational process. Satisfactorily completing the course is indeed a good thing. Successfully and consistently putting into practice its lessons is quite another.

  25. People who make comments like you write about are usually those lacking confidence in their own genealogical skills. By questioning your credentials, talents, skills, etc. they attempt to enhance their own.

    Continue your self-education. When you have the time, the money, and the inclination, you can begin a more formal program. Bringing the skills you've already learned on your own will allow you to gain more from a class than those who have yet to venture into the "real world" of research.

    Good luck! I look forward to being able to attend one of your lectures in the future.


  26. Marian:

    You have much to share and many who want to learn from you.

    Congratulations to your audience members for obtaining their certificates but keep in mind....they were sitting in your audience waiting to learn from YOU.

  27. Marian, Like many others who have commented, you and I come from similar places in how we hone our research skills. Here is what I know: you are the sum of your experiences. Those are what qualify you and give you credibility. A shiny white certificate is just a piece of paper until the knowledge gained in earning it is applied and something of worth is generated from the experience.

    You not only have the knowledge, but you know how to apply it.

    The rub comes when you start questioning yourself. Be confident in your skills and ability to execute them. You've been in the trenches so to speak while they've been in class.

  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

  29. I'll try to be brief, but don't count on it. In my other life (non-genealogy), I am in an environment that lusts after initials to be placed after a person's name, as though it IS part of their name. Okay, so they had the time and the money to sit in a classroom for years collecting the letters. Are they any better or more qualified? Not on your life. In many cases, must less qualified.

    While I value education, I don't think that degrees, certifications and letters after a person's name are a guarantee that they are good at their job. Which makes is scary when M.D. are the letters after their name.

    Street smarts and the ability to do the work get high marks for me. Degrees and letters? Well, as Shania Twain sings, "that don't impress me much."

  30. Their comments were sheer rudeness and actually shows some insecurity on their part.

    Academic qualifications are nice to have but seriously it is what you do with that knowledge afterwards not just having completed a course. in my alternative life as a scientist some of the most practically useless people I know have qualifications because they can pass exams but unfortunately can't apply their knowledge in any practical way.

    You have shown the depths of your knowledge in your bogs and in your answers to people's questions and in the fact that you are invited to give presentations, people want to hear you!

    Sure at some stage, if you wish to, obtain certification (I agree with Paula in that I think you would be surprised on how much you have already achieved towards it). It is a valuable milestone along the way but it is only a stage it is not the end. This is the fact that so many qualification hunters forget: life is a learning experience, you don't stop learning and don't know it all just because you have a piece of paper.

  31. Marian, I'm sitting here with Alice Teal, Judy Swan, and Jeremy Depertuis Bangs. None of them have BU certificates, and all were self taught in genealogy, and held other jobs in completely different fields. I think Caleb Johnson, who is also here, also had training in a different field than genealogy. Most people come to genealogy after college, or from another life in another career. The lucky few are "trained genealogists". But your experience helped you to come up with a one minute answer you can use in the future. Forget those rude people.

  32. Marian, I suppose it's possible that the question was innocent. But it reminds me of new hires with their MBAs, with the ink still wet, who expect to be handed the keys to the executive washroom. Education is a start; it identifies potential. Experience is what credentials are made of. Thank you for sharing your experience through your talks and blogs.

  33. Jim's Girl - I agree with you. I'm assuming it was said innocently though in poor judgement. I was taken by surprise but really didn't feel any initial bad intent on the part of the person asking. More like, "No, you didn't really just ask me that!" It's more a matter of my internal reaction as I further reflected on it. I do admit that the "club" of certificate graduates is growing and I do feel a sense of being left behind because I don't have that piece of paper. It's not that I don't feel like I'm totally capable of achieving it's just that I don't have the opportunity. And now everyone seems to have that little piece of paper.

  34. Little pieces of paper are nice, but not the end-all, be-all. I second (third? fifteenth?) what everyone else here has said - academic recognition does not a practitioner make. Look at the doctors who go into their residency clueless - academics is nothing without practice. You do it /every day/ and you have oodles to share. The fact that you sat back and asked yourself - hmm, what /are/ my qualifications? - simply means you're a normal, sane human being who isn't an ego-balloon like the ones who posed that question to you. :)

  35. Education can only teach so much. It will teach you the skills needed, but can't give you the passion for genealogy. You clearly have the passion. It shows in every post you write. I haven't yet had the opportunity to hear you speak, but if I had the chance, I would definitely do so.

    Education also can't teach you every possible thing you may need to know on a subject. Due to time constraints, courses are limited to the material you're most likely to need or come across. If it covered everything, we'd all be in school for our entire lives.

    Like others said, I would love to be able to take genealogy courses or get my certification. It's not an option right now so I focus on what I can teach myself. I read blogs, borrow books from the library, follow genealogy mailing lists, take free courses and webinars, and sometimes I just keep trying something until I figure it out.

  36. Marian - You have 25 years of experience, so I don't think you have to concern yourself with being left behind. Frankly, I think you are among those leading the pack. I have heard you speak in person twice and both times found your talks interesting and informative, and your blog is a must read. Jim's Girl is right likening it to the attitude of new MBA hires or newly degreed/certified people in a number of fields, my husband's and my own included. These debates have been going on for years. Just because someone has a degree/certificate doesn't mean they are a competent professional in their field. And just because someone doesn't have a degree doesn't mean that he or she isn't really good at what they do. A degree indicates that an individual has completed coursework and/or taken an examination to receive that degree or certificate. The degree/certificate indicates a baseline of knowledge. How a person builds (or doesn't build) upon that initial level of knowledge/skill set is what important.

  37. I am a librarian. Well, I have the degree but not the job title...not yet. At cocktail parties one is often asked "so what do you do?" I reply, "hunt and gather."

    I mean, does it really matter? If what you are doing is quality work the people who matter will see it; with ot without credentials.

    I am sure no one ever asked the hunters and gatherers for their credentials. They fed the village. End of story.

    You feed the village, sweetheart. You feed the village!

  38. Marian -

    It's been a chaotic couple of weeks for me and I just concluded I will never get caught up in all the blogs I follow. I had just decided to "mark all as read" and start afresh. But first I decided to make sure I was current with my "go-to" blogs and you were on that short list.

    I can only hope that the person who made that comment to you did not intend it to sound so condescending. Perhaps she was curious about your background and it came out wrong. In any case, ignore it and keep doing what you do best! Educate us!

  39. If they had asked that question *after* the lecture then that might be something that you should worry about a little. But when they asked it *before* it was just being dumb. I'm sure they didn't have any questions about your qualifications once they heard the lecture. Give them the benefit of the doubt that it was one of those things you say and then immediately wish you could suck it back in. We've all done that.

  40. Actions speak louder than words. I attend your lectures, Marian, because I know that I will learn something. 'Nuff said.

  41. Marian, You said: "I'm assuming it was said innocently though in poor judgement. I was taken by surprise but really didn't feel any initial bad intent on the part of the person asking."

    Trying to see both sides here: I could see they were asking advice on how you accomplished this feat (although perhaps worded poorly and not timed well as you were preparing mentally to give your lecture). They may genuinely wanted to know how they could also be on a program such as the one you were on. They may have been feeling inadequate or wishful. Sorry it hit you at your own vulnerable moment (and we all have them!)

    There is room for everyone and a sharing of knowledge. Most people seek confirmation of their knowledge for their own benefit -- not others. Have your own education and business plans and modify them as opportunities arise.

    BTW, I was also that Math major who worked in computers before there was a computer science degree. After that, I was the stay-at-home mom who did genealogy as her home-based business. The children are little only for so long. Give each of yours a hug for all of us who have empty bedrooms.

    -- Elissa Powell

  42. Marian, you are such an invaluable asset to the genealogy community. Your blog has taught me so much. I agree wholeheartedly with all of your supporters and their comments. Ditto!! I would love to be able to hear you speak one day. I love New England and old houses, so maybe I will appear in one of your audiences - but you can be sure I won't ask for your qualifications! Your experience and work in the "trenches" are enough for me.


  43. I just want to leave one last comment. You've all be so supportive and encouraging. I can't thank you enough.


  44. Marian, you're an inspiration for a lot of us; don't let the nitpickers get you down!

  45. Wow, whatever happened to manners? You were invited as a speaker to that society. If the members wanted to know your qualifications, they should have asked their program chairperson. Sheesh.

  46. Thank you for sharing. You are so very qualified, and I am so glad that you shared this as some of us may or have had to deal with this very issue.

  47. And so she risked everything and was honest and received lots of excellent feedback and support and hopefully was the better for it... Thanks for your honesty, Marian, and for everyone else's support & encouragement of her. This discussion is a great example of why the geneablogger community is so awesome!
    P.S. - Did you take up Chris' offer to be bouncer at your next speaking engagement? :)