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Tuesday, August 18 • 1:30pm - 2:30pm
Research Forum Poster: History and Genealogy: A Study of the Relationship between Genealogical Research and Interest in History

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Genealogists make up an important segment of many libraries’ and archives’ user population, but have largely been neglected in the professional literature until recently. This exploratory study investigates the connection between genealogical research and interest in history, seeking to find out more about how the public engages with history through genealogy. The goal was to better understand user interests and needs, informing the way information professionals serve their genealogist patrons and opening up avenues for further research. A survey was distributed online and in paper to three North Carolina genealogical societies, and the results compared to the answers given to the same survey by graduate students at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. The results indicate that genealogists tended to be more interested in history in general than the students, and revealed some common motivations for genealogical research between the two groups. Both groups enjoyed learning more about the context of their ancestors’ lives, exploring the continuity of family traits, and building a historical narrative in which they played a part – an important part of identity formation. The survey also revealed some differences; unlike the students, many genealogists also tended to enjoy the communities formed around their genealogical pursuits, the lifelong learning process, and the satisfaction of problem-solving. These findings can help information professionals to develop more effective resources for their genealogist patrons and provide them with better overall service. Further study of the motivations for genealogical research identified in the study and comparison among genealogists of varying levels of expertise are potential areas for future research.

About the Author:

Jamie Patrick-Burns earned her Master of Science in Library Science with a concentration in Archives and Records Management from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in2015, and her Master of Arts in Public History from North Carolina State University in 2014. She completed an internship in the University Archives at Duke University, accessioning, processing and describing records of enduring value to the Duke community and answering reference questions about the collections, as well as contributing to social media outreach and digitization projects. She also held a research internship for the Halifax County Convention and Visitors Bureau, conducting research to document Underground Railroad activities around Halifax, NC and helping develop historical interpretation and public programs. Jamie has published an original research paper on the interpretation of the tobacco industry in Durham NC in the NC State Graduate Journal of History and collaborated on multiple exhibits as a student at North Carolina State University. Her professional interests include public outreach and access, electronic records and technologies, and description. She received her BA in History and French from Wheaton College (IL).



Tuesday August 18, 2015 1:30pm - 2:30pm
Room 26A Cleveland Convention Center, 300 Lakeside Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44114

Attendees (5)