Carol Baxter BA DipFHS FSAG (Bachelor of Arts, Diploma in Family Historical Studies, Fellow
of the Society of Australian Genealogists)
Adjunct Lecturer at the University of New England
General Editor of the Biographical Database of Australia (BDA), and previously Project Officer
for the Australian Biographical & Genealogical Record (ABGR)
Editor of six books and one CD-ROM of colonial records published by ABGR (1987-2002)
Author of three critically-acclaimed popular histories published by Allen & Unwin: An
Irresistible Temptation (2006), Breaking the Bank (2008), Captain Thunderbolt and his Lady
Author of a genealogy “how to” book, Writing Interesting Family Histories (2010), with more
books in the pipeline
Guest speaker on subjects ranging from my popular histories and “how to” books, to
genealogy and writing
Most almighty on high …. Sorry! Sorry! Got caught up in the utter pretentiousness of it all.
I have always thought that those who big-note themselves by signing everything with their academic credentials are merely exposing their own inadequacies. Indeed, when I see such a thing, I inevitably chuckle. When I was at university, students had irreverent nicknames for the different sets of initials, and they are impossible to forget. “BA” – perhaps not surprisingly considering its vocational usefulness – stood for “bugger all”.
Having a degree doesn't make a person more able or worthy than those who don’t have a degree. For example, even though I am published by one of Australia’s top publishing houses, I didn't study “writing” at an academic level. I am completely self-trained – as are most published authors. So I found it interesting when I recently heard an author speak about a novel she wrote as part of a PhD. She said that when she approached a publisher in the aftermath and mentioned her novel's genesis, the response was an audible groan and the comment: “I’ve never yet come across a novel written for a Masters or PhD degree that is publishable!” Says a lot for the training provided by our academic institutions.
When I heard about the latest UNE Degree, the Bachelor of Historical Inquiry, I felt envious of the students. If such a degree had been offered in my day, I would have signed up instantly rather than pursuing my own Bachelor of Arts degree. Now, because of my quarter-century in the industry, UNE sees the value of my knowledge for their students – one of the reasons for my appointment as an adjunct lecturer. Meanwhile, I have not just one job in my hobby but many (sorry to everyone else ... seems a tad greedy somehow, doesn't it!), so I am too busy to be interested in undertaking further academic study. Anyone can study. Anyone can self-publish. But only a few of us are lucky enough to receive book contracts from major publishers.
So I will continue researching and writing true stories, and continue signing my name simply “Carol Baxter” – although it had occurred to me to add underneath: “… who is doing for Australian history was our athletes are doing for our sport: making it exciting, interesting and world class.”
Hmmm. Probably way too pretentious!! But then again …