Thursday, August 27, 2009

Speaking to Genealogists

I speak occasionally to genealogists, giving presentations about heraldry and how it can be a tool for them. One of the hurdles that regularly have to try to overcome is the misconception that heraldry really is not of much interest or use to genealogists. Indeed, during the course of many of my presentations, I use a quote from heraldic author and genealogist L.G. Pine, who has stated the case better and more succinctly than any other I have found to date:

At the outset there is a curious fact in the relationship between the two subjects. While students of Heraldry do take to Genealogy and acquire a considerable knowledge of it, those who begin as genealogists seldom if ever take any interest in Heraldry. This is most unfortunate because the two subjects are necessarily connected.
There’s an awful lot of substance bound up in that little quote. Heraldry enthusiasts are very aware of how completely intertwined with genealogy the field of heraldry is. But trying to convince genealogists that heraldry can be useful to them as another tool (indeed, I like to say that "heraldry is the genealogist’s most colorful tool") in their researches can be difficult at best. It’s not so much that you can’t convince them of the truth of it once you present it to them; the difficulty lies in even getting a hearing.

When I’ve been asked to give a presentation on heraldry to a genealogical society, lineage society, or similar group, I’m often told that "we’ve never had a speaker on this topic." And when I’ve submitted proposals for presentations to several of the national genealogy conferences, "An introduction to heraldry for genealogists" has never, to date, been selected. I have been able, however, to present it to a number of local and regional genealogy societies, where it’s always been well-received. Again, the difficulty doesn’t seem to be in getting them to understand the relationship between heraldry and genealogy, because they often understand it once it’s been presented to them; it’s it getting to present the information to them in the first place that the difficulty lies.

I have hopes that this situation will change. I do keep trying, sending out proposals for presentations to some of the national genealogy conferences, and continuing to give presentations to regional and local genealogy groups and lineage societies about this field of heraldry that can be another tool that genealogists may use in their search for family roots.


  1. Thanks! I do keep trying, and am having some success. I just have to remember to keep taking it "one step at a time."

  2. Hopefully someone from one of the smaller presentations will send a message to the bigger presentation people about how good this is. :)