Isn't a family historian the same as a genealogist, with the biggest difference being that a family historian’s focus is with their own families’ ancestry line? While a genealogist focus of research is spread a little wider, not only focusing on their own family but also providing research services to others. This still continues to be a debate among most and with some it can be a touchy situation. I thought if I looked at the definitions it might clear some of the misconceptions up.
· the study of family history
· research the history of a particular family showing how different members of the family are related to each other
· an account of the descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor
· attend regular society meetings while taking courses to advance their knowledge
· the study of family pedigrees
· an account of the origin and historical development of families
· study individuals of the past
· rely mostly on written records for evidence to support their claims
· their research might include looking as bibles, diaries and church records
· they study, read and write about their families history
· they collect documents, stories and pictures for their family history books
I know there is so much more that I can add and more details about the multiple task that both genealogist and family historians do, but I think you get the idea. The descriptions are so close that the only difference that sticks out is family historians focus only on their families. Then again there are some family historians that I know who also help others with their research. I’ve heard some who believe the difference is in the check, payment for services that is. I can’t solely count the acceptance of money as the only difference, I’m sure there are some family historians who have accepted payment. You might notice that under genealogist there was the mention of attending meetings and taking courses to advance their knowledge. Funny thing about that is I’ve been to a few conferences and I’ve had the opportunity to meet some who refer to themselves as “family historians” so once again it's at a draw.
Is it really necessary for lines to be drawn between the two? What are your thoughts on this debate, does it really matter. I’m just happy to know that there are so many of us genealogist, family historians, archivist, librarians and researchers who care about our families past and what their lives were like.