Well, Sondra and I are on our way to RootsTech 2017. This is the world’s largest genealogy conference, and it is going to be really interesting and awesome!
Part of me sincerely wonders what I can possibly learn from this conference. Putting it like that sounds really snotty; I assure you, I’m painfully aware of my lack of knowledge.
It’s just that for some reason, I’m really drawn towards a niche area of specialization – Czech Genealogy Research – that doesn’t seem to ever, ever get the attention of the Big Fish.
We’re like, this tiny little school of – well, since we are referring to Czechs, let’s go with carps – we are a school of carps occupying a very muddy, neglected corner of the proverbial Genealogical Ocean. I guess we are like, really shiny (or perhaps radioactive?) carps, because there’s something inherently, “oooh!”-inducing about Czechness. I guess we’re just inherently
Sometimes it is really difficult to work with the Big Fish: huge, faceless databases that are the stewards of our history, and sometimes end up doing a really
terrible botched interesting job. :::cough cough:::: weird and meaningless Ancestry.com “source citations” ::::: cough cough:::: FamilySearch’s weird handling of slavic records ::::::cough cough:::::
And let’s be honest: sometimes it’s just really difficult to work with living people. Why do you think I find it so rewarding to work on 18th century Czech Land records!?
Actually, I really appreciate the carps. I think we do a good job looking out for our own.
I had heard about the rocky history of the relationship between the LDS church (a huge whale in the Genealogical ocean!) and Czech archives (these radioactive carps).
LDS: “We want your records!”
LDS: “We want to preserve the records of the world! So people can baptize them in our temples… It will be totally free!”
Slovakia: “HEY! That sounds GREAT!”
Česko: “Um…No thanks. You get what you pay for. Plus…Communism.”
It’s kind of funny being both LDS and Czech, because it means I have a lot of mixed feelings of identity. I mean, I relate to the big fish. And let’s face it, Czechs and LDS have a ton in common anyway: to be Czech is automatically to be a minority. So is being LDS. And they are pretty comparably sized minorities: 15 million Mormons, 10 million Czechs – hey, we can include the 5 million Slovaks just for the heck of it…
Anyway, so these are some of the thoughts running through my head as I go to RootsTech for the first time in my life. I am hoping, praying, and to be honest – sincerely doubting – that these big fish will hear some of my pleas, such as:
- Including Czech phonemes and naming patterns in their search algorithms
- Fixing Czech locality jurisdictions to reflect reality instead of fiction
- Ensuring the online cataloging of Slovak records matches what’s on the microfilm!