Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, May 5, 2014

When Ignorance is not Bliss

I made a short comment in a recent post about a class where only three or so participants in a class of thirty, I taught on had even heard of the program. OK, so there is a serious disconnect here. What was even more appalling was a comment in another class that they did not think the program was useful because it came from Israel. Not to be outdone, I heard another comment that the person was not interested in FamilySearch because it was a "Mormon" program for Mormons and that they would probably be charged if they tried to use the program. To top this off, the very first question I fielded on the first day of the Expo, was whether FamilySearch owned I was also asked how RootsMagic compared to

In fact, at the end of the Expo, I got a written comment that is essence said that since I obviously worked for MyHeritage and since they were sponsoring the event, she was not interested in using the program at all.

Do I have to list the responses to these questions and issues?

I guess, here it goes:

1. I do not work for although I have had some promotions on my blog on their behalf.
2. did not sponsor the program although all the attendees did receive a disk containing a free copy of the Family Tree Builder program.
3. is absolutely and completely free. You do have to register to see some of the features of the program and to view some collections of Historical Records. But there is no charge for using or searching on the website.
4. Although is based in Israel, their database has collections from all over the world and is very useful in the United States, Scandinavian countries and United Kingdom and other areas of the world.
5. FamilySearch does not own
6. does not own nor is it buying FamilySearch.

I cannot understand where some of this stuff comes from. What I think is a tragedy is that there seems to be a huge number of otherwise experience genealogists who are unaware of and/or  I did not teach a whole class on but as I mentioned the program several times there was almost no recognition of the program among the attendees.

I am becoming acutely aware of the great divide in genealogy between the online community and those who are not yet integrated into the online community. I realize that this is a major challenge and the keeping the websites and programs straight can be very daunting. But when someone rejects a huge online database out of hand merely because they believe that they sponsored the Expo, there is more here than a simple case of technophobia. Most of the comments indicate that those making the comments have not used any of the programs in question enough to recognize the difference between the various entities.

It is fortunate for my sanity that these types of comments are relatively rare.


  1. Be careful that you don't hyperventilate, James... they do try your patience at times.Add to that the ones who think " it's all on the net, I'll just copy it one day".

  2. What a funny experience, and all that from people who are interested enough in the field to attend a conference! Misplaced skepticism doesn't seem like a very good substitute for common sense and curiosity.

  3. I found your blog yesterday after doing a Google search to compare with, both of which were being considered in my quest for more info on my family. But by reading your post from 2012, I discovered the website and joined immediately. I knew it was LDS affiliated but wasn't concerned by that because it's silly to worry about a website being "Mormon" and I also know the LDS Church has excellent genealogical info. I cannot believe the amount of information I've discovered between last night at 9pm and now, 24 hours later! I've found so many documents and records that other websites might have made me pay to see. And it hasn't been easy finding information on my family because they've only been in the US for a few generations and my family is Jewish of Lithuanian, Belarussian, and Russian (and sometimes Polish, depending on the year) descent so the spellings of their names can vary greatly or are sometimes Americanized. I want to thank you for writing this blog! I am truly, deeply, grateful that you take the time to put your insights and opinions online so that people like me can learn more about doing genealogical research. Thank you so much James Tanner! :)

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment. It is comments like yours that make all the work worthwhile. Thanks again.