Professional Genealogy or Professional Genealogy Research Services is an emerging profession struggling to break away from the strangle-hold of its past history and today’s non- profession qualified practitioner performance of full-time and part-time workers in professional genealogy research services occupations, participants in genealogical avocations, and vendors in associated services and products. Most Professional Genealogists today are self-styled as professional and/or expert, and most do not work in Professional Genealogy. A few career professional genealogists have earned the required professional criteria that are the standardized attributes of a professional practicing or working in a profession and have the necessary education, training, experience to qualify as an expert. Any other use of the term “expert” or application to the unqualified is a dilution of its meaning and status, as has happened with the words “professional” and “profession” in genealogy. Only a formalized profession can qualify and credential its practitioners.

Currently, there is no profession of Professional Genealogy (Professional Genealogy Research Services), either as a self-regulated profession or as government-regulated. There are no profession-mandated standards for education, training, experience, credentialing, continuing education, ethics, best practices, methodology, members-only qualified membership organization and so on for the businesses of this field of endeavor or for establishing expert status. At best, Professional Genealogy or Professional Genealogy Research Services are occupations or avocations in genealogy research and associated vendors where everyone does their own thing, except where the professional genealogist has been willing to subject their way of doing business to some membership or credentialing body that is open to all without regards to a formally established profession. Otherwise there is no oversight or determination of any practitioner, standards, ethics or practices.

Results by such “so-called” professionals or experts are only as trusted and reliable as the consumer believes to be true. This applies to all types of consumers, be they pro to pro, professional and vendor online listing malls, online databases, private and public domain family tree and family history, society and genealogical publications, consumers from all walks of life and professional genealogy business uses. This consumerism needs trusted professional practitioners and results; this professionalism and expertise benefits the consumer, the practitioner, and the profession. This is a key reason for creating a profession in Professional Genealogy or Professional Genealogy Research Services.

I support and call for the institution of a self regulated profession for these occupations to ensure profession-qualified experts and to establish a reliable method for such determination for the consumer, the practitioner, and the profession. Until such a formalized step is taken, whoever uses the terms “profession”, “expert” and/or “professional” is wholly responsible and accountable for their application of the term, the consumers reaction to it, and its effect on the credibility and reliability of the occupations associated thereto. Professional, Profession, and Expert are only words in today’s world of Professional Genealogy (Professional Genealogy Research Services.). By 2020 I hope to see these terms correctly applied to a real profession and its practitioners.

Sincerely yours,

Mary E. Petty, B.A. (History), B.A. (Genealogy)
APG member Salt Lake Utah and National
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