Engaging the help of Genealogical Societies

Ask questions and discuss topics of interest related to the FamilySearch wiki found at http://wiki.familysearch.org.

Moderator: ForbesMM

Thomas_Lerman
Member
Posts: 172
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 8:54 am

Engaging the help of Genealogical Societies

Postby Thomas_Lerman » Fri Mar 21, 2008 8:01 am

I apologize in advance . . . this post, or series of posts, will be long. One of the societies that I participate in (it does not matter which one) posed some questions via e-mail that sparked several thoughts. I will summarize their questions and may mostly copy my responses. I really would like your thoughts on this thread. Until recently, I have not been that involved with a society. It does have relation to the Wiki, but that is buried a little bit. RicheyMT and I have talked about the subject, but asked that I "forumify" (my word) this thread instead to draw from the "us knowledge".

To make it hopefully easier to follow the thread of e-mails, I will post them separately starting with the questions sent to the society. After that would be my response, then theirs, etc. So, hand on to your hats.

  1. How do we expand our society?
  2. Should we meet six times a year (as we currently do) or only quarterly?

Thomas_Lerman
Member
Posts: 172
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 8:54 am

Postby Thomas_Lerman » Fri Mar 21, 2008 8:08 am

My response:

  1. To me, the following seems to be the case, but I could be wrong:
    1. Not that many people know about the society.
    2. I checked out the society website and did not really find anything that would cause me to want to go back (of course, I do not have any ancestry from Utah).
    3. We do not have any projects to get people involved.
    4. We have so much available for our use . . . maybe more than anywhere else in the world. However, do we use it?
      1. If I sat here and thought more, I may be able to come up with more thoughts. With the above said, below are some thoughts on possible things we could do.
        1. Can we put fliers or posters up at the FHL? How about the FHL at BYU or large FHCs in the area? How about offering to teach classes at any of those? I frequently teach at the BYU FHL and occasionally Family History Fairs. At some of the venues, I am not sure how many participants would be at a Genealogy class applicable to our society. Can we be a resource to other related societies around the world (i.e. look-ups at the FHL) and/or offer to help host when they visit SLC (this all could be done through the website)?
        2. Help people get more aware of the website and put information that would be helpful to a wider audience. If we are a resource to others, that could be helpful. We could even charge a small fee for look-ups that go into the UJGS pocket (maybe even eliminate dues if that is preventing some from joining). Having projects available through the website would be nice too.
        3. How about teaming up with FamilySearchIndexing.org and offering to index Jewish records or other records that are of a generic, but widely helpful nature? I feel like this would be of great value. Also at http://Labs.FamilySearch.org, a new Research Wiki is starting up. This is like Wikipedia, but for genealogical research. We may be able to lead the way or get started many things. For example, related Genealogy, other localities, or even world-wide.
        4. With all the resources around, we should be able to use it more and/or help make it more available to others. I think I have already covered a few thoughts on how we could do this. Maybe we could even have some of our meetings at the FHL to see what kind of extra interest we could generate. If those that are there see that we exist, they will probably tell others about us.
  2. Quarterly or bi-monthly meetings: I would fear that by cutting the meetings down could loose more people or attract less. Sometimes, less frequency causes people to not remember. It seems to me that forums like this could generate ideas for meetings. For example, I believe I have included several ideas intermixed in my comments above especially kind of partnering with FamilySearch. What about trips to the vault (can we do that?)? Seeing what is going on with the new developments, etc.?

Thomas_Lerman
Member
Posts: 172
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 8:54 am

Postby Thomas_Lerman » Fri Mar 21, 2008 8:20 am

Her (president) response:

  1. Society expansion:
    1. Many people do know about the society. It has been advertised in newsletters and bulletins of related congregations (non-LDS), workshops were given at one of them (she will be presenting again soon), and information goes out to their email lists.
    2. She respectfully disagree about the website but requested that I send to the webmaster suggestions for improving it or adding to it.
    3. She felt suggestion about offering to host or help others visiting FHL a good one. Or to help others with research a good suggestion too.
    4. I am right about not having ongoing projects. The society did a cemetery project but that is finished. We could take photos of graves there and submit these to another website. Someone was taking the lead on offering family night classes in genealogy but nothing has been heard from him since the last meeting. She is swamped now with other responsibilities to take this on. One congregation says last time it offered genealogy class, hardly anyone showed interest.
    5. They plan to speak about the society at a related film festival and the society will be sponsoring part of the festival.
    6. Suggestions for projects would be appreciated.
    7. Concerning FamilySearchIndexing and ResearchWiki, she has no time for things like this but we could survey our members and find out if others have time to contribute in this way.
    8. She does not think we should move our venue for meetings, but we could meet once a quarter at the FHL. I still like quarterly meetings but await the verdict of other members before we decide.
    9. She does not know if we can visit the vaults. I think this unlikely. It was offered only to world archivists during the summer and that took some work to accomplish.

Thomas_Lerman
Member
Posts: 172
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 8:54 am

Postby Thomas_Lerman » Fri Mar 21, 2008 8:26 am

My response:

Thank you for indulging me with my thoughts. I hope they were viewed as constructive as I intended. I like to try to be positive and building. I was typing as the thoughts were coming, so hope they made sense (I actually am not sure that I remember everything I typed).
  1. Recruit and retain
    1. That is good that many people do know about the society. My perspective is obviously limited being that I live outside of Salt Lake county. I thought I would present possibly more ideas on how we can get the word out more and maybe recruit & retain more members. I suppose I would ask the question as to why many know about it and few come. I would also wonder if the right groups know.
    2. That is okay that you disagree about the website. I was just stating my perspective. This is not a reflection on the webmaster or anyone in particular. It is a nice website. I cannot think what suggestions to make other than the information that I already mentioned. Looking at it, I see
      1. Information about the society (meetings, join, constitution & bylaws, newsletters, & contacting). This is most of the pages. I get the newsletters via e-mail, know when meetings are, etc.
      2. History of certain people in Utah: I do not have Utah ancestry or even relatives in Utah.
      3. Links: I regularly use most of the websites listed by going to them directly.
    3. That is good to know about the cemetery project. I somehow did not see that in the Links. Maybe it could be brought more to the front with a "Projects" link on the side menu? Photos would be great too. I think the other things I mentioned would be great projects (FamilySearchIndexing and Research Wiki). Surveying others may be helpful. I know it is easier to say no when a project is being presented than when it is already a project (if that makes sense). It is also better to have everyone be informed as to how we can help with the project. I may be able to get presenters on these if you wish.
    4. I actually was not suggesting permanently moving venues for our meetings. Sorry for the misunderstanding. I am just trying to get ideas on how to get the word out maybe in new ways so that we can recruit and retain. The vaults would be cool, but it sounds unlikely as you said. The idea though of "field trips" may be good in helping with the ideas for helping make the meetings more exciting, again recruit and retain.

Thomas_Lerman
Member
Posts: 172
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 8:54 am

Postby Thomas_Lerman » Fri Mar 21, 2008 1:17 pm

Oh yes, I was asked if I would accept a nomination to be the program chair. I do not really have time like the rest of us, but tthat may be a way to really cause some change in this society.

Thomas_Lerman
Member
Posts: 172
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 8:54 am

Postby Thomas_Lerman » Wed Apr 02, 2008 9:54 pm

As mentioned, I am the Program VP. Okay, I am not sure what the title is really called yet. As requested, I would like to have someone present the Research Wiki (or is it really called the FamilySearch Wiki?) to the society. The meeting times, location, etc. can be found at http://www.UJGS.org. I would like this to cover things like: hey, look at this new cool thing that we are building and we would like your help . . . It would be a great project, say, starting the Jewish Research areas, specializing in Jews of Utah, or whatever. The meeting is on tax-day . . . 15 Apr 2008. Michael? Someone else?

scion-p40
Member
Posts: 259
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2007 11:56 pm

Postby scion-p40 » Wed Apr 02, 2008 11:08 pm

I'm responding to several of your comments about genealogy societies.

IMHO, mentoring is an important function of a genealology society. Therefore, pairing up an experienced genealogist with a less experienced genealogist to present a topic can work well. Having a short presentation by a new researcher coupled with a longer presentation by someone who will draw attendees is another method to grow new genealogy leaders.

Monthly generally works best for me to make a meeting a habit. Less freqent meetings don't seem to stick in my memory--even with a palm!

Sometimes one busy person decides that others lack time, interest, and/or skills required for projects. My stewardship should not prevent others from having opportunities to serve. It never hurts to ask. Some involvement is generally better than none.

Drawing new folks is a challenge for many types of groups. One thing that just cracks me up is genealogy societies who advertise only inside FHCs in trying to attract new members. That reaches folks who are already genealogists. If you want to grow, then the message needs to reach future genealogists. Sponsoring a kid's heritage day where children & parents work together to discover their roots can help this. Announcing meetings in the local newspaper helps. Posting at senior centers can draw from an older demographic. Most public libraries have a place for flyers of public interest. Instead of (or in addition to) posting inside FHCs, post on a bulletin board outside the FHC. (This can reach those intimidated about stepping inside the FHC alone.)

Look outside your immediate members for speakers. Some will draw other interested people who come to support their friend, but my become interested in your group. Invite a local history teacher to present at a meeting. Ask a representative from your assessor's office mapping division to discuss maps. See if a clerk-recorder is available to speak about deeds, other recorded documents, and their indexes.

Giving folks a few minutes to share their new discoveries at society meetings draws them into activity. It might be a brief explanation of untangling and properly linking a line, discovering a missing child, finding a useful website, or anything. Sharing might also identify relatives in the group! (It's a neat side effect whenever I find myself related to people that I already know & like.)

Think outside the box. If the "same old thing" isn't working, then try something new.

scion-p40
Member
Posts: 259
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2007 11:56 pm

Postby scion-p40 » Wed Apr 02, 2008 11:27 pm

Sometimes a society is few in numbers, but still wants to participate in projects. Combining forces with an existing org may help--especially if they currently have ongoing projects.

Thomas_Lerman
Member
Posts: 172
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 8:54 am

Postby Thomas_Lerman » Thu Apr 03, 2008 7:31 am

Some great comments, thank you!

I believe some of the things you mentioned are why I was suddenly asked if I would be VP Program and then nominated. I have been thinking outside of the box, lining up outside speakers, getting projects, lining up "field trips", and trying to team up with others.

To me, the decrease in meeting frequency feels like the society is dying rather than growing and trying to resolve a symptom rather than the cause of the problem . . . whatever that may be. I want us all to remain positive here. My main focus is providing a program that will facilitate "recruit and retain".

I really liked your comments on possible outside speakers. I have several ideas, but gave me more ideas and opened the doors to other. Again, thank you for the comments. I hope to get more comments on this thread.

jbh001
Community Moderators
Posts: 854
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 5:17 pm
Location: Las Vegas, NV

Postby jbh001 » Thu Apr 03, 2008 7:35 am

Thomas_Lerman wrote:Her (president) response: . . . One congregation says last time it offered genealogy class, hardly anyone showed interest.
This is off topic, but as a point of instruction, make assignments instead of asking for volunteers.

Don't ask if they would be interested, invite them to attend, personally. This is how I got into genealogy research. One of the ward family history consultants called me on the phone . . . "We are starting up another 12 week Family History class and want to invite you and your wife to attend. We will meet on Sunday during Gospel Doctrine in the Family History room. Will you join us? We will also meet with you individually one evening during the week for one on one training on the computers. Do Tuesday nights or Wednesday nights work better for you?"

We have already volunteered to join the society. Don't keep asking us to volunteer, invite us to accept assignments.

I was in a Priesthood Leadership Meeting where the visiting Seventy worked very hard to stress that point. "Don't ask for volunteers to say the closing prayer, make an assignment by inviting someone to pray: 'Brother Smith will you offer the closing prayer for us?'"

If you read the materials published by the Boy Scouts of America, they also subtly teach the same thing in finding adults to serve on troop committees, as merit badge counselors, and so forth.

If people feel wanted (not needed, but wanted), they will be willing to be more involved. A question you might ask regarding this society is how do the projects and events fulfill the wants (instead of the needs) of the members?

People will frequently neglect their needs in order to fulfill their wants. I'm doing it right now by posting. I have other things I need to get done, yet here I am fulfilling my want to comment instead of fulfilling my need to do homework. ;)

Sometimes you have to market it (sell it) in order to build up the want even if the need is obvious.


Return to “FamilySearch Wiki”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest