Thoughts of a Professional Amateur Genealogist
My name is Greg Lamberson, and I am an American amateur genealogist. My genealogical research has always revolved around my work schedule, and I typically go from periods of doing a great deal of research to having no opportunity to do research due to extensive travel, living overseas (try getting internet service in the Sinai Desert), working 90 hours a week or whatever my current project or position demands. As such, I have had several periods during which my research went untouched, and my revival of it involved an immediate generational software upgrade, an operating system change or another such massive disruption.
Right now, I'm concerned with the changes that are occurring in genealogical software (and ones that aren't in my own software). My main software vendor (Wholly Genes, Inc., maker of The Master Genealogist) doesn't offer the features I see other packages offering. This makes me wonder how long it wil be before I've got to endure a painful transfer process. I've always been interested in GEDCOM, so this proejct is a natural fit.
Some of the more general aspects of my genealogical research: One thig I often end up doing is tracking down land my ancestors owned in the US. Finding land in the US relies on two kinds of systems depending on where you're looking. The metes and bounds system was brought over from England and is still used in the east, whereas the rest of the country uses the town and range system. I think Thomas Jefferson helped establish town and range, but don't quote me. Anyway, town and range is basically a uniform grid system, whereas metes and bounds is more subjective and relies on what I would call dead reckoning. I would like to see these different legal systems used in the US be incorporated more into genealogy software, but otherwise it's probably just an area of personal interest.
As to the use of terms “genealogy” and “family history,” I consider them to be equivalents. Genealogy has one less syllable and is quicker to type, so I generally use genealogy. I'm sure others have different experiences.
My other activities have helped plant my feet firmly in the amateur category, and I certainly don't expect that to change in the near future. Perhaps in 10 or 20 years? Who knows? But for now, my concerns are far simpler than those of someone working on a genealogy project for clients or someone interested in publishing their work to a scholarly publication (though the subjects interest me from a technical point of view).