I’m so Confused? What am I?

Genealogist? Family Historian, Curator, Archivist? I have been pondering what it is that I do and what to call myself for awhile. I can see that I am not the only one after reading Nancy’s post on My Ancestors and Me blog. 

I could be called a genealogist because I research lineage and create family trees for myself and others professionally. But, because I want to know more than just the mere names and dates – I want to know about their history, their culture and more details than just the facts ma’am…which also makes me a family historian and a poor imitator of Sgt. Friday.

At RootsTech I heard the terms “curator and archivist” bandied about a bit.  A curator is responsible for the ‘care and acquisitions of objects’ and the term has recently moved to include not just objects but digital records. An archivist is primarily concerned with preservation for future generations the information that is in a collection or library.With all the stuff collectibles, photos, books, papers and images I have acquired over the years it would be good to have one job title that would give me permission to collect these items so I don’t end up on A&E Hoarders reality show having an intervention! The show’s description is a little scary and a bit too close for comfort [“Each 60-minute episode of Hoarders is a fascinating look inside the lives of two different people whose inability to part with their belongings is so out of control that they are on the verge of a personal crisis.”] You say ‘horder’ I say ‘curator’ tomae-toe tomah-to.

But what about my other ‘job’ descriptions? I am also a Tweeter, a FaceBook’er new technical designation, blogger, speaker, writer, librarian, storyteller and I am sure I can think up more if you give me a minute…so is there ONE [name] to rule them all, ONE [name] to find them, ONE [name] to bring them all and in the darkness bind them?…name that mangled quote!

I not sure coining a new name such as genhistcurarcher will really catch on or work. I think we need to work on our branding…which always make me think of this

and seems awfully painful. All branding is in business terms is when you see an image and you immediately you immediately think of the company and their product. So I think here are two possibilities:

or this one:

hmmmm…I will work on it. So what if the public doesn’t get all that is involved in our field. The main thing that we should be communicating is that there is something for everyone and getting started in documenting our families lives, saving our family histories, preserving our heritage shouldn’t wait for ‘one name’ because one word does describe it all…Love!
copyright 2011 Valerie Elkins
Family Atlas Genealogy Mapping Software Genealogy 101: How to Trace Your Family’s History and Heritage


  1. Hi Valerie,

    Congratulations! I’ve bestowed upon you the One Lovely Blog Award for your great writing! You can retrieve the badge at my blog, Pollyblog, at http://pk-pollyblog.blogspot.com, and you’ll also find instructions there on how to bestow it yourself upon your own favorite blogs!

    Best regards,

    Polly Kimmitt

  2. Polly,
    Wow! Thank you so much! I am flattered and amazed anyone reads my blog, let alone likes it.

    Again, Thank you

  3. I’m glad you completed your post. You added a few areas I hadn’t even thought about (archivist, curator)! Thanks for including the link to my blog. Yours was a fun post to read.

  4. Love this post! Can I call you a “jack of all things ephemera”?

  5. Great post! I don’t know how you can “do genealogy” without being ALL those things you mentioned, plus a dozen more. I feel like I’m always juggling writing, research, hiking through cellar holes and graveyards, interviewing folks and preserving artifacts. Perhaps we are closer to being Indiana Jones than Marian the Librarian?

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