Wednesday, September 7, 2011

FGS - Focus on Societies - Day 1

The first day of the conference was a success and fun was had by all. I attended David Rencher’s opening session about how to keep societies from extinction. He pointed out the following:

In order to understand why societies go out of existence, we must first understand why they exist in the first place.

Historically speaking, Rencher reminded us, genealogical societies were formed around a bunch of genealogy people who got together to talk about genealogy; these meetings often centered around potlucks.  People got together because they enjoyed the social experience. This has become much more difficult to maintain with the advent of the internet which increased access to records and material to people who no longer had to leave their homes.

In order to sustain a society, one has to evaluate the costs involved of each service provided and then identify ways in which to reduce those costs in order to reach a goal of a $0 membership. Remember why and how they got together in the first place? Additionally, the society’s mission statement must keep up with the changing landscape, including the technological changes.

The whole day was dedicated to the Focus on Societies sessions.  I attended two morning sessions, then we took a break to visit the Abraham Lincoln Museum and Library, and then I attended one more society meeting before ending the day.

The two morning sessions I attended were about copyright issues and internet collaborative tools you can use for outreach and education.  Most of the copyright information wasn’t new to me. However, I wish there was a webinar about it that I could play for my members and newsletter and journal editors so they will be informed, especially about sharing information with each other, whether it be a cool blog post you read about a new software tool or some genealogy you read out of a book that you would like to incorporate into your own family tree. A good point was made that as a society board member or editor, by following the copyright rules, we are providing good examples to our members/readers. It has been difficult for me to teach my newsletter editors the importance of obtaining permission and/or attributing the work to someone else. 

The final session I attended with Paula Stuart Warren was about creating a Society Handbook or Operating Manual of sorts. This is what I am trying to build in my genealogy society right now. I have requested that each committee submit a document about what they do, how they do it, and/or what they would like to see done or any improvements they would like to see implemented, especially if there were more volunteers. This session was good because we broke into groups and outlined what we would do if we held a particular board or committee position.

We didn’t attend the Old Fashioned Prairie Social because the description said it only had desserts and we were short one ticket. So we walked a block down to the Italian place to have dinner instead. Back in the hotel room by 7:30 to write this blog post and relax. I am hoping to get some photos of the museum uploaded as well and a blog post written about that. Tomorrow we are attending a breakfast panel hosted by Jonathan Good from with Dear Myrtle and Josh Taylor. They will be speaking about how to engage the younger generation in genealogy by using various digital tools. Check out their website today!


  1. Thanks Ginger..interesting information.


  2. You're welcome, I would like to write more, but I simply can't think anymore LOL!