It is that time of year again and each year I can’t quite believe it when I see my name alongside so many ‘greats’ of the genealogical world, several of whom I am honoured to consider my friends. Yes, the voting is now open for this year’s genealogy rockstars’ poll. This time the shortlist has been drastically reduced and I am humbled to see that my name is still amongst the nominees. For those of you who are unaware of this annual phenomenon, I will explain. This is this sixth time that John Reid, of the Anglo-Celtic Connections website, has risked bouquets and brickbats in order to undertake the thankless task that is organising an international poll to find what he calls the ‘rockstar genealogists’ of the English speaking world. ‘Rockstars’ are, in John’s words, “those who give ‘must attend’ presentations at family history conferences or as webinars, who when you see a new family history article or publication by that person, makes it a must buy. If you hang on their every word on a blog, podcast or newsgroup, or follow avidly on Facebook or Twitter.”
Initially, the vote was designed to help conference programme organisers to ascertain which worldwide speakers were likely to be popular and it does fulfill that function. Each year, despite John’s best efforts, the poll leads to some criticism. Complaints usually run along the following lines: Are those who do well really ‘the best’, or are they just those who are most active on social media? Or, worse still, are the medalists merely those who are able to command hosts of non-genealogist mates to blindly cast votes in their favour? As regards the first, I would argue and I think that John would agree, that being active on social media in this field is part of the criteria for rockstardom. John has done his best to reduce the second problem of block voting but the best way to ensure that the ‘right’ people do well is to cast your vote for those that you feel are most deserving. To make the poll truly valid more people need to vote. Each year, by far the greatest number of votes come from the US. That’s great America, please keep voting but the rest of the world need to take part in greater numbers. By casting your vote, or votes, you are helping to ensure that the genuine rockstars reach the top of the national and international lists. I could choose not to mention the poll because, let’s be honest, it does smack a little of electioneering but I risk that criticism because I want to spread the word that this competition exists, so that the result fairly reflect the opinions of the greatest number of people. Those who need to vote are people who have a genuine interest in and knowledge of family, local or social history. Obviously I would love it if you felt that I was deserving of one of your votes, it would be disingenuous if I tried to imply otherwise but genuinely, what is most important is that you vote for someone who is worthy of genealogical rockstardom. The voting window is now open and is very short. You only have until Saturday 21st October. This is the link that you need. Please pass the message on.
Why is this blog entitled ‘Rockstar Genealogist: Rockstar Family Historian’? It is because I prefer the term family historian, which I somehow feel has more gravitas. I know that the precise definitions vary in different parts of the world but to me a genealogist searches out the basic pedigree but a family historian looks beyond the names and dates to investigate the social, local and national historical context that brings our family stories to life.
Anyway; a final word. Please vote but please, please, also honour all those unsung heroes of the world of family history, those who help to keep our local societies going; those who offer their time and expertise quietly, freely and unstintingly. They may never feature on a list of rockstar nominations but they are every bit as vital to the wonderful world of family history.