29 January 2012

Rock Star Genealogists Results

Genealogists and family historians, professional or casual, 676 in number from the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the UK and Ireland, Mexico, Spain and Sweden voted to select "rock star genealogists, women and men who give 'must attend' presentations at genealogy conferences and/or write 'must read' family history articles or publications." In diverse ways they go beyond genealogical competence to leadership and inspiration.

Everyone in the "international" list below is from the US, reflecting the dominance of US residents among voters. Those outside the US should not fret; separate listings of top picks by folks in Australia and New Zealand, Canada, UK and Ireland, and USA will be posted here in the coming days.

The order among the first three was close for most of the week, then switched when a spurt of voting on Friday afternoon pushed the eventual winner to a clear lead. The number of votes received is indicated.

The winner is:

Elizabeth Shown Mills (325), best known in the US, has been called "arguably the most influential genealogist of our time" and "one of the most respected genealogy authors, teachers, and lecturers of today."  She was editor of the (US) National Genealogical Society Quarterly for many years, was president and trustee of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, and has given more than 500 presentations. Her books, including Evidence Explained:  Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, and Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians, are widely regarded as classics. See her website here, and a YouTube item here.

2. Megan Smolenyak (266) describes herself as genealogist, author, speaker, and genealogical adventurer who loves to solve mysteries and dream up new ways to play with family history. Her infectious enthusiasm, willingness to help others, and penchant for discovering the unanticipated, especially with "well known" personalities, have made Megan a frequent media guest and helped to popularize family history. Megan's most recent book, “Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing,” is profiled in this promo video.

3. Dick Eastman (261) is a long-time blogger since before the days of blogs. While Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter brings news with a US emphasis, Dick's particular forte, which makes his blog a must read for many internationally, is technology developments relevant to genealogy. He is also a frequent conference speaker, including internationally. On YouTube you'll find videos of him in Canada and the UK as well as in the USA.

Others in the top ten are:

4. Thomas MacEntee (209)
5. Thomas W. Jones (187)
6. Cyndi Howells (181)
7. John Philip Colletta (172)
8. Stephen P. Morse (161)
9. Lisa Louise Cooke (151)
10. J. Mark Lowe (148)

There are many respected family historians further down the list, often with narrower geographic or specialist appeal, some likely to emerge to become top-ranked genealogy rock stars of tomorrow.

Please leave any additional thoughts in the comments.


Randy Seaver said...

Well done, John. I agree with two of the winners...I think Thmoas w. Jones belongs also.

What about the British Isles and Australian and Canadian leaders?

Marian said...

It was a fun contest but I think that the voting should have been separated out by region. Then we would have been able to see the rock stars from each part of the world.

Marian said...

I just have to leave a quick comment about Randy's comment. He doesn't agree with all the results of the Top 3.

I agree that Dr. Thomas W. Jones is a rock star and shouldn't be missed but I also agree with the results of the survey.

The truth is Dr. Jones is not as widely traveled as either Smolenyak or Eastman. His venues tend to be national conferences or institutes or other educational settings that have smaller audiences and more intensive training.

Smolenyak and Eastman have both been hitting the pavement for years. They have incessantly traveled within the US and internationally and have built a large, broad base. They have been to the largest of venues and the smaller venues as well as hitting locations that are non-traditional for genealogists.

This contest was about speakers not genealogists in general. Hands down Dr. Jones and Elizabeth Shown Mills are the top two genealogists.

But when it comes to genealogical speakers Dick Eastman and Megan Smolenyak are rock stars. They have paid their dues and earned their stripes.

Perhaps we'll agree to disagree on this one :)

Anonymous said...

a silly exercise....

Persephone said...

May I second (uh, perhaps third?) the motion for national winners? I find American presentations (although well done) don't always have information pertinent to people with no American background.

geneabloggers said...

Congratulations to all the winners and especially to John Reid - yes a silly exercise perhaps but I think all the comments, the blog posts and mailing list conversations from members of the genealogy community have been valuable - and folks know I love a good conversation!

J. Paul Hawthorne said...

The term "Rock Star" is...well, a very popular musician (not the best musician). So, I agree with Marian, but, I wish Dr. Jones (one of my gods)was up there too, as my friend Randy suggested.

JDR said...

Thanks for the comment Paul which gives me the opportunity to reiterate that the Rock Star metaphor was chosen for exactly the reason you state. These are not necessarily the best genealogists, although they could be and should be adequate. They must also be good showmen (showpersons?) able to get the message across in popular presentations or writing. Not every CG or equivalent can or aims to do that.
I also hoped to expose a wider range to names to those organizing presentation programs and conferences, rather than just the usual suspects.

camelot said...

I agree with Marian Pierre Louis that there should have been seperate categories. Australia should have featured as one and my vote was for
Barbara Hall. Maybe next year.
Carolyn Markham Australia.

Valerie Elkins said...

Thanks for the great inspiration for my post on my blog http://familycherished.blogspot.com/2012/01/genealogy-rock-star-war-of-tom-toms.html

where I discuss why Thomas MacEntee ranked higher than Thomas Jones.
Thanks for the great example of the power of social media!