Genealogy is a pretty inclusive topic but not 100%. Maybe someday it will be. Audiences and presenters at classes, seminars, conferences, and institutes are made of up tall, short, skinny, wider, white, red, brown, black, gay, straight, transgender, married, single, divorced, widowed, adopted, fostered, cousins, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, men, women, aunts, uncles, moms, dads, and grands of all types. We are young, older, and in-between. Researchers, librarians, clerks, archivists, farmers, bus drivers, nurses, lawyers, and others come in all sizes and other labels, too.
I am a genealogical educator, researcher, and consultant. My clients have included married, divorced, straight, gay, a drag queen, Canadian, Native American, Saint Paulite, and almost any other designation. I am straight, married for 35 years, now divorced (not by choice), middle-aged (my brain says so), wider, and a daughter, parent, grandparent, aunt, grandaunt, niece, grandniece, and unfortunately very short woman. What labels do you tag on yourself? Don’t forget religion, political leaning, education, and other topics, too.
My friends and colleagues in my chosen profession fit into most of the above categories. That sounds strange, doesn’t it? Labels. Sigh. But they are a fact of life. They range in age from their 20s all the way up to 80s. Plus I have a 92 year old neighbor who is a widow and today asked when I am going to do another genealogy presentation for the residents of our condo buildings.
Many years ago I would hear speakers tell audience members to talk to their parents and grandparents. I would hear them tell the researchers to preserve the family history for their children. It hit me because my grandparents were gone but I still had two aunts living. I have children, but I also have a niece, nephews, and now grands there, too. Others in the audience had no grandchildren.
We need to be more inclusive in our language as researchers, audiences, record custodians, and instructors. We might have an audience with a variety of designations, but they don’t have children and the older generations may have died. If we say, tell your children this or leave your children this legacy, we are technically leaving out much of our families and audiences. The in-laws count, too!
I am trying my best to add in a niece, nephew, aunt, cousin, or other person in my presentations. While not perfect, I will keep at it.
In more personal dealings, I try to not think of any of those labels. I do try to think about labels such as, oh they live in Salt Lake City, know more about Indiana research, or are from Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin where my family lived for a short time. The other labels really don’t matter unless you are taller than I am. Then I definitely label you with an evil eye. I need 2-3 more inches in height and am jealous of you. Just kidding. Maybe.
© 2018, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.