Tag: Next Generation

Suit Up and Show Up

I am a young genealogist. True, there are days when the gray hair pokes through and I pop when I walk, but since I am not yet forty I am clinging to the fact that I am among the younger members of the field. Even when I may feel like I’m falling apart, I still suit up and show up making my presence known. Do you?

What do I mean by that? Well, I like to think that we are the future of this field. One day we will be the mentors, the establishment, I guess you could say “the man.” However, nothing happens overnight and many times becoming a trusted member of a community takes years. Are you working towards that goal?

If you are not actively working to safeguard the future of genealogy, why not? Many people tell me they are scared or do not know where to start. Some do not want to rock the boat of their local society. To that I say, sometimes you have to splash in the water to keep a community on course. Trust me, getting a little wet never hurt anyone. If you are interested in spreading those wings and trying to become a leader in your area, here are a few things you should think about.

Suit Up

Continuing education: We are primarily a self-taught community since there are only a few (when compared to other professions) degree programs or professional outlets. Genealogists have to make the commitment to themselves to suit up and show up to advance their knowledge in the field. Making yourself accountable to participate in whatever way possible will only help you be a better researcher and professional. Then try teaching what you learned to others.

Dress the part: While there is a time for jeans and grubby clothes (like in a cemetery), if you want to be taken seriously you should dress the part. If you are lecturing, wear a suit or something appropriate for the venue. If you are attending a conference, seminar, or society meeting, consider wearing business casual. You do not want people distracted by your appearance. You want them to think, “Yeah, he/she has it together.”

Smiling and manners: Did you know that smiling on the phone, even when the person can’t see you, still comes across in your tone? Being friendly, approachable, and easygoing are traits that people respond to. No one wants to be around a sourpuss, so even on my grumpiest days I put on that smile and save my smart aleck comments for my close friends and family. Frequently, I see genealogists with very bad manners and habits. You can be polite yet firm if you are upset, just like you can patiently sit through someone’s family brick wall without looking bored.

Stay focused: You have to hold yourself accountable. It’s the hardest thing to do, but the only one who can keep it all going is the person you see in the mirror every morning. Your success will not be handed to you. Work hard every day. Accomplish something (even if it is as simple as writing an email) every day. Lead by example in all things.

Learn from the mistakes: It is very hard for me to put myself out there. Many times I do not feel confident in my abilities. I have made mistakes and there are things that now I would have done differently. Working through the setbacks and learning from those mistakes, especially when I started my genealogy career, only made me better. If you can kick aside the failure when it happens and see the accomplishments along the way, you will find a better path. Your successes should be touted and your failures learned from.

How do you suit up and show up in the genealogy community? 

Shannon Combs BennetShannon Combs-Bennett is the owner of T2 Family History, Creative Director for The In-Depth Genealogist, and Education Coordinator for the NextGen Genealogy Network. Based in Virginia, she writes and lectures on a variety of topics from genetics to methodology and is a contributor to Family Tree Magazine / University.


Faces of NextGen: Meet Murièle Gadaut

Murièle Gadaut, 45, France

What five words would you use to describe yourself? Curious (very!), Passionate, Stubborn, Independent, Imaginative

Why genealogy? Why genealogy…? Well, well, well… When I was around nine years old, my father used to be our village’s mayor. I loved joining him at the city hall where I spent my time flipping through the very old registers of births, marriages and deaths. I loved everything of it: smell, beautiful handwriting, and all those stories I could imagine… I suppose that my very first interest in genealogy comes from those beautiful moments. I have always been very curious about my family history, always asking many questions to my grandparents and great grandparents: they told me many stories about WWI, WWII, the way they used to live in the East of France, they showed me old pictures. It was fascinating to me and I always wanted to know more.

Then, when I was fifteen years old, I discovered in a book that “genealogist” was actually a real job and I decided to choose that profession. But unfortunately, I had not made the right school choices and could not apply to a History School as I wanted. I had read that Law was useful so I studied Law in France and Spain. I never forget about my initial project. Finally, to make that story short (!), after working as a Communications Director and travelling quite a lot, I jumped at the opportunity to become a professional genealogist in 2013. This is one of the best decisions I made for myself and my life. I just love my job and genealogy!

What’s the coolest discovery you’ve made? It was for one of my clients, an old man from Chile whose roots were in the south of France. He wanted to check if he had cousins in France and if this was the case, if they would know something about that common ancestor they had. Luckily, I found out he has cousins and could arrange a meeting in France. That was just extraordinary.

What are you working on this week? I am doing research on a Parisian actress named Geneviève Lantelme for a journalist planning to write her biography. More precisely, I am looking for descendants of her sisters with the objective to have access to private papers, documents or objects that belonged to their incredibly beautiful great-great-great-aunt. I also work for an American woman interested in learning as many things as possible on a painter – Julius Delbos – whose family lived in France. Both stories are just incredible and drive me to unexpected archives.

What’s the number one secret to your success in genealogy? Passion and curiosity combined together!

What superpower would you want to help you uncover your family history? I would love to be able to travel to the past and to meet some of my ancestors. I know, it is crazy!

What are we most likely to find you doing when you’re not researching family history? I am quite busy taking care of my family but when I can, I enjoy a lot watching TV shows on history or reading a good book.

Anything else you’d like to share? I am proud and glad to be part of the NextGen community. I would be very happy to get in touch with members interested in French genealogy.

The NextGen Genealogy Network is made up of young genealogists with diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Faces of NextGen will showcase a different member of our community each month. If you would like to be considered for an upcoming feature, simply complete our questionnaire and submit a selfie.


Teaching Young Children About History Through Travel

Over spring break, my husband and I took our two children, ages four and seven, to visit Washington, D.C. While there, we saw many school groups also visiting the historical sites and museums. For the most part, the groups consisted of teenagers, teachers, and parents. Some of the kids were genuinely interested in the monuments and museums, but many others were obviously bored, constantly looking at their phones, and wondering when they’d be done. For a lot of these kids, this trip came too late in their educations. Kids need to experience historical places at early ages.

Why travel to historical places with young children? Young children are naturally curious and they ask questions without hesitation. Because young children learn best through utilizing all of their senses, experiencing historical places first hand is an important way to develop their basic cognitive understandings of history. Children will come to enjoy learning about history if it is taught by combining interesting stories with real places.

Child enjoying historical monument

Kids need to experience historical places at early ages to gain a full appreciation of their significance.

How young should you start taking your child to historical places? Believe it or not, the toddler years are a great time to begin. Vocabulary development during this period is explosive, and it is a time when children are learning about the world around them by associating spoken words with tangible objects. When my son was two years old, we visited the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida and Ft. Pulaski National Monument in Georgia. During both visits, we told our son we were in a fort, which was a new word for him. Better still, he was able to associate that word with a real place in real-life dimensions. A fort was not just a blanket-covered table to play under or some toy; a fort is huge, and made of stone or brick, which he was able to physically touch. A fort has room for lots of people and supplies inside and special spaces and windows made just for large cannons – another new word he was able to associate with real-life objects.

As children grow into preschool and elementary ages, the vocabulary associated with historical places can be built upon with stories. Visiting historical places makes the stories of history come alive for kids. For example, we visited Ford’s Theater while in Washington, D.C. While in the theater, we told our kids the story of President Lincoln’s assassination (another new word for them). We could literally show them where the “bad guy” came into the Presidential Box, shot Abraham Lincoln, and jumped from the balcony onto the stage. We told the kids he broke his leg when he fell, but still got away. Our daughter remarked, “He must have hopped,” which showed me that she was actually picturing it happening! These days, so many historical sites have character actors who young children just love to interact with, and who are able to make learning about the history of a place enjoyable and engaging for all ages. So, don’t hesitate to travel to historical places with young children – they will enjoy it more than you think!

Emily Kowalski SchroederEmily Kowalski Schroeder is the author of the blog Growing Little Leaves, which is dedicated to sharing ways to educate young children about family history. Learn more at GrowingLittleLeaves.com.


Faces of NextGen: Meet Ric Filho

Ric_FilhoRicardo “Ric” Aranha de Sousa Pinto Filho, 25, California

What five words would you use to describe yourself? Curious, Creative, Active, Friendly, International

Why genealogy? Curiosity made me do it!

What’s the coolest discovery you’ve made? That’s a tough one, every new discovery is cool! One cool discovery was that my great-grandmother was actually a somewhat famous poet in Brazil, and not only that but she was a feminist that financed feminine columns in famous news papers and also financed artists that in the beginning of the century weren’t famous in Brazil, but now they are. That made me quite proud!! Her name was Irene Ferreira de Sousa Pinto.

What are you working on this week? I just started a club at UCSD called the Genealogical Society of UCSD, so now I’m trying to find other students that are interested and polishing up our Facebook page, etc. Genealogy is a part of me, so I love to help people in their genealogy tree, not only because it’s a hobby that never ends, but because I love to see how people get excited when they learn things about their past that they wouldn’t know without genealogy research.

What’s the number one secret to your success in genealogy? Never give up! I’ve been mainly working on the Internet, because I’m an international student so most of my family history is abroad in Italy, Brazil and Lebanon, so I’m somewhat limited. Sometimes it can be a discouragement when your research is limited only to the Internet, but amazingly enough, by not giving up and exploring other ways to do research on the Internet, I’ve been able to, with perseverance, find many cool and interesting things about my genealogy.

What superpower would you want to help you uncover your family history? Teleportation.

What are we most likely to find you doing when you’re not researching family history? At the gym or studying at UCSD.

Anything else you’d like to share? Genealogy is addicting!

The NextGen Genealogy Network is made up of young genealogists with diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Faces of NextGen will showcase a different member of our community each month. If you would like to be considered for an upcoming feature, simply complete our questionnaire and submit a selfie