The 2018 edition of Professional Genealogy edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills was available back in May at the National Genealogical Society conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I didn’t buy it, though, because–yes, I’ll admit it. I just didn’t want to add extra weight to my suitcase.
Last week, I found myself thinking I should really have a copy, so I ordered one online. I work with professional genealogists in my support role at Genlighten and I’m striving to become a professional genealogist myself. That pretty much makes it a must-read.
I’m in no position to offer a scholarly review, but I can share my first impressions. So far, I’ve only flipped through a few of the chapters, but, to put it in colloquial terms, I’m blown away by what I see.
This is not just an updated version of the old book; it’s a rewrite. For example, the first chapter is still called “Defining Professionalism” but it has a new author.
The writing is so clear and uncluttered. I think it would be hard to find a single word in the book that doesn’t serve a useful purpose and that makes it a joy to read.
It’s a chance to learn at the feet of experts in the field and I find myself hanging on their every word. The author list is a who’s who of professionals who have earned the respect of their colleagues because they’re very good at what they do. Asking them to condense their thoughts into concise chapters has created a powerful read.
Some chapters present a new take on the same foundational principles. For example, I enjoyed the fresh sample reports in the “Research Reports” chapter. Other chapters reflect significant changes in the industry. The most obvious illustration of this is the addition of the “Genetics for Genealogy” chapter which I have yet to read.
The book also broadens my thinking on topics I’ve pondered before. The “Auxiliary Careers” chapter offers several possibilities that leave me wondering if I’d like to change direction. And the chapter on “Marketing” offers suggestions that I am eager to apply to my own situation.
I think the new book captivates me, in part, because the ProGen 33 experience that I finished in July left me hungry to find a place in the field of professional genealogy. The intended audience might be those who are preparing for or engaged in a genealogy-related career, but, really, the book would be an interesting and worthwhile read for anyone interested in genealogical research.