Some genies don't like the awards. They find them frivolous, not adding value to the profession, perhaps even 'tacky', But those of us who were nominated have been delighted. We have unabashedly engaged in self-promotion, have crossed our fingers, toes, eyes and waited with baited breath for the winners to be announced. What we also understand is that this "People's Choice" award, whether a nomination, a top 10 placement, or a win, adds credence to our genealogy repertoire in terms of getting speaking engagements. Attendees at such talks have spoken by their vote and have let the planning committees of the genealogy and local history societies know who is popular, who will draw a crowd to their event and who will be engaging enough to hold the audience's attention. So, thank you John, for allowing all of us this opportunity.
The categories are International, US, Canada, UK (Scotland, England, Wales), Ireland, Australia/New Zealand and DNA. The winners in each category are announced according to where their voters reside. Not where the genealogist resides or where the area of specialty for the genealogist is.
The Bronze and Silver winners were announced on Monday. Results can be found here:
Gold winners in each category were announced on Tuesday. The results of the Genealogy Super Stars can be found here:
The genealogy world has been a buzz of congratulatory messages, accolades and thinly veiled humility from the winners ("oh my, I never thought...." "Really? Me?" "Oh gosh, thank you") Of course in reality we were all screaming "WE ROCK!!!" WE. ROCK!!
Over the rest of this week, John will share the "top ten" in each of the categories outlined above. Those nominated, but not awarded the top three coveted awards, are all hoping they placed in the top five but will take anywhere in the top 10. The placement on these lists adds a boost to their marketability.
The top 10 for Canada were announced today and the results were nothing short of disappointing:
1. Dave Obee
2. Christine Woodcock
3. Dick Eastman
4. Thomas MacEntee
5. Chris Paton
6. Lisa Louise Cooke
7. Judy G. Russell
8. Kirsty Gray
9. Gail Dever10. Maurice Gleeson
Don't get me wrong. These are among the top genealogists in the WORLD. Not just in Canada. The genealogy elite in many respects. Those we all rush to hear when they give talks, or host webinars. We devour their written advice on blogs, in magazines, quick guides, books. If my own sense of self-worth were not so incredibly (perhaps pathologically) intact, the fact that MY name is on this list should be incredibly surreal. Little old me. From Canada. And there's the kicker. Only 30% of this list of top 10 genealogists, held in such high esteem, are actually FROM Canada. And, if you take me out of the equation (my specialty is Scotland, after all), the showing for Canada is nothing short of shameful. TWO out of 10. TWO.
How does that work? Easy peasy when you look at the big picture, and when you contrast it with the other top 10 list announced today - that of Australia and New Zealand where 70% of the top ten are actually from the area.
Canadian genealogists are not well promoted in the genealogy world. Those of us who are promoted and well known, have engaged tirelessly in self-promotion. We have not been held in esteem by our own genealogy society. The Ontario Genealogical Society is the largest in Canada. They have an annual conference. The "headliners" are rarely ever Canadian. Ok, Dave Obee might be the exception to that statement. But give Dave his due, he has been in the biz for a very long time.
This past May, the headliners for the conference were from the U.K. and the U.S. The conference for 2016 has already been announced. The headliners are, again, U.S. Why? No, really, WHY?
No offence to my U.S. or U.K. colleagues. As I said, these are the genealogy elite. Some of them, I even consider to be my friends. (The ones I don't are because they have no clue that I even exist, and to consider them friends would be unfair to them).
Why is it that the OGS doesn't spend the effort in promoting their own? The handful that have been well promoted in the past are promoted because they already worked hard to make their mark. ONLY after they have tirelessly promoted themselves to make a mark in the genealogy community, will the OGS think, "oh, maybe we should give them a try. BUT not as a headliner. We need to hedge our bets, so let's import the main speakers and fill in with our own". Making us wonder if we are really just an after thought.
Contrast the OGS conference, with the BIFHSGO conference this coming weekend. Out of 11 speakers, 6 are local. LOCAL. Sure, none of us are headlining, but some of us get equal time to those who are headlining. BIFHSGO actively promotes and supports their members. They have their own members speak at their monthly meetings. This builds confidence, allows exposure and gives back to the members. The exposure to the talent that is among the membership really IS a benefit of membership.
OGS, take a page out of BIFHSGO's book. Look to your members. The people who PAY to be in your organization. Support them. Promote them. Let them shine. When you do, they will make you shine in return. It's a win-win.
The 2017 conference is in Ottawa, for the 150th birthday of Canada. The conference theme is: Our Canada - Your Family: Building a Nation. PLEASE OGS, don't insult the intelligence of the Canadian genealogists by importing speakers. Look locally to members who excel in their knowledge of:
French Canadian Research
British Home Children
Eastern European Immigration
The people who are the fabric of OUR country. The people who built OUR nation. The people we proudly call our ancestors.