Professional Genealogy Text Review/Comparison


The release of Genealogical Publishing Company’s new Professional Genealogy: Preparation, Practice & Standards coincided with my serving as mentor to a ProGen group (ProGen 36), so I’ve been re-reading the original Professional Genealogy (2001) text regularly since last October. As a ProGen graduate, ProGen mentor, former university adjunct of genealogy, and practicing professional genealogist, I feel obligated to review this new 2018 ProGen book for researchers and potential readers out there who might be wondering whether they should buy the 2018 version if they already own the 2001 text, or if they want to know how much it differs from the original 2001 text before buying what appears to be the same book (I certainly want to know, too).

I’ve heard lots of questions in this regard. Should they skip the 2001 text now that this new volume has been released, or do they need both? Certainly, at $50 apiece, purchasing both would be a steep price to pay if there was too much overlap between the two, but if buying the new and eschewing the older title meant missing out on valuable wisdom from great minds of the past, that would be a shame, too. Therefore, I will be offering a side-by-side review to help genealogy consumers/aspiring professionals in our field get a better sense of how these two titles might fit into their genealogy libraries and career preparation. I will do so in a series of chapter-by-chapter blog posts.

To kick off this series of review-posts, I’ll start with a look at the books themselves. I begin with this overview that I made of the books’ contents:

Most Notable Format Changes:

–This newer book offers fewer chapters by fewer authors with not as much of a diversity of credentials. Total author credentials are about equal (37 credentials in the 2001 text, with 38 credentials featured in the 2018 version), but my table shows that one credential dominated the rest, as if that credentialing body had produced the book, and that there are no authors with MLS or MLIS degrees, nor any FUGA, FBGS, or FNGS titles among the ranks of either book’s authors.

–As far as author diversity goes, I am not well enough acquainted with the names of the 2018 book’s authors to know the identity of all who penned those chapters, but it is hopefully safe to assume that our industry is socially conscious enough to have ensured that this slate of authors was diverse and inclusive–that perhaps one of the reasons for updating to this newer text was to give the guide greater relevance among our globally minded profession.

–The 2001 book has more chapters, but the 2018 book has more pages. Note the page lengths that I included in my chart.

–Page numbers varied widely in the 2001 version, while they hover almost religiously at the 20-25 page mark in the 2018 text (see page counts on my inventory). One gets the impression, from these differences, that authors in the first version were simply sharing what they wanted to say in the time that it naturally took them to say it, then stopped when they were done. Some took 10 pages to say it, while others took up to 30 pages. With the 2018 version, there is more of an impression of everybody trying to arrive at an assigned page count (20-25 pages, to be exact–with only a couple of exceptions), which gives the 2001 text a more organic vibe and the 2018 version a more forced, overly-structured feel.

–The number of “Career Management” chapters is reduced by half in the 2018 edition, while there are two more Professional Research Skills chapters in the newer edition. “Time Management” and “Marketing” chapters were eliminated from the 2018 text, both of which are ProGen Study Group assignment chapters.

–The 2018 version now features research skills chapters on forensic genealogy, genetics, and lineage research specialties. (Adoption research is notably absent). This is surprising because genetics research/technology is always updating; one might easily predict multiple new editions of this 2018 book in the future as things change in the field of genetic research, depending on how specific/detailed that chapter turns out to be (stay tuned!)

–A chapter category was eliminated. Where the 2001 text had six chapters in the “Writing and Composition” category plus three chapters in a separate”Editing and Publishing” category, the 2018 PPS text now has seven chapters under the heading of “Writing, Editing, and Publishing.”

My next posts will review, contrast, and compare the chapters within the books. What I learned from them, how they applied to my genealogy business over the years, and what I think of this new book. Stay tuned!

**Update: I’ve since published my next review installment and will post all subsequent reviews here below as well. Here it is:

  1. Genealogy PPS Review: Front Matter and Chapter 1


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