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Monday, September 24, 2012

Do We Have A Voice?

I am spending a busy day searching for blog posts about the Georgia Archives, the SSDI, and other records access issues that are of interest to the genealogy community. I came across this post Some good news for Georgia State Archives, but bad news (that’s not really news) in a larger sense and a comment by Steve Ammidown hit me in the gut with a large boulder. He said...

"Let me start by saying that I’m a first semester student in archives, and a newbie to SAA, so I’m sure these conversations have been had before.
Coming from an activist and non-profit background, I was surprised to learn that SAA does not include a 501(c)(4) component, and that there wasn’t generally a lot of organized advocacy around archives on a national level. Changing this seems like it should be a top priority for the community. But how do we sell it? How do we push a normally reticent profession out of the shadows?
There’s one clear answer- it’s about our jobs. Nobody is going to stand up for archivists, be they professionals or students, if we don’t stand up for ourselves. The recent discussion on the SNAP listserv about hiring data for new archivists got me thinking about this. While data is great and useful and essential, it is no substitute for raising our voices. Waiting for the people of Georgia or any other state to recognize the power and necessity of archives is only going to lead to more layoffs, or more jobs going unfilled when others retire.
Since all this Georgia stuff has started, I’ve found lots of great archivists rabblerousing for the profession through Twitter and Tumblr and other sources, and that fills me with hope. But without organization, and lobby days, and talking points, these will continue to be voices in the wilderness, and we will end up reacting to a crisis like Georgia instead of heading it off.
As I said, forgive me if I’m sounding a bit naive here. But I’ve really come to love the archives profession, and I see a place for it in the future, no matter how digital the world becomes. I just want to make sure that we can see that through."
Hmmmmmmmm, I wonder if anyone else is hearing bells? If you replace all the references above from archive / archivists to genealogy / genealogists, do you feel that maybe our community is also  "a normally reticent profession"? We have some cells out in our community that do an excellent job of making their members aware of legislative issues and giving people suggestions on how to take action. The MGC Sentinel is a fantastic example, and there are others. But have we as a community formed ourselves into a well oiled advocacy machine that functions efficiently on a national / international level? Is there anything in our community that fills the "fearless leader" shoes? Are we a team? Do we need to be? Do we want to be?
Judy G. Russell, our beloved Legal Genealogist wrote a post a while back about the SSDI where she encouraged us to get off our duffs. I'm thinking it was very good advice, and maybe all of us as a community should take it.

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