Carson, and his bike, have long been familiar sights at the Archives, as he has done research here for 18 years as a professional genealogist. Like many "old timers," he says he liked the old building better but is not quite sure why. Before becoming a genealogist, he taught English at the University of Baltimore. When continuing his teaching career meant a move from Annapolis, his wife, Sharon, returned to teaching and he took up genealogy.
One of the original members of the Search Room volunteer program, Carson was delighted to see it start, because it had bothered him to see people struggling to find what they were looking for and, especially, to operate the microfilm readers. Now, the program allows him to "give away what I used to sell! But if I can help the Archives serve people better, I like that. I like helping people find what they want." In fact, on many occasions when Carson has been in the Search Room doing his own research, he has put his work aside to help out when he sees that the staff is having a hard time coping.
Carson's volunteer work for the Archives did not begin with the Search Room program, but with the Maryland Federalist for which he was crew on a number of outings. He also served on the Search Room Advisory Committee and has helped select summer interns. In the community, Carson is a volunteer with the Lighthouse Shelter, working twice a month at the pantry and whenever needed in the shelter.
Professional genealogy can be difficult and boring because, as Carson points out, a lot of clients come to him when have run out of leads. He says: "I often get the job when it is scraping the bottom of the barrel." He also has observed over the years that people do not want to discover that their ancestors sold themselves to get here; they would rather find out that the ancestors were able to pay for themselves and few others as well.
At the moment he is working on a project that he finds especially interesting and of potential value to other researchers. In working with The Early Settlers of Maryland and comparing it with other sources, he has found as many as 500 names which were left out of it. Now he is reading early records to find, and perhaps compile a list of, names which should have been included in the original list of early settlers.
Taken from the Maryland State Archives Bulldog, February 7, 1994, Vol. 8, No. 3.
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