Saturday, September 10, 2011

FGS2011 - Engaging a New Generation of Genealogists with D. Joshua Taylor

I attended "Engaging a New Generation of Genealogists" with D. Joshua Taylor as part of the society-day track at the FGS conference.

Genealogists often think that "new generation" automatically means younger members, but Taylor described the next generation as being those who will eventually replace current genealogy officers and board members. He referred to this group as the "21sters" (twenty-firsters).

Who are the 21sters? They are tech-oriented. They know about genealogy through an online presence. They're attracted to the stories we uncover in genealogy. They are looking for a fun organization to join--and their idea of fun isn't filling out a 5-generation pedigree chart at a society meeting.

Taylor also talked about the need for societies to think outside the box in terms of all society aspects. No one thinks they are beginners (even if they are) so don't title your events as such. Rename them. Seek different meeting locations and explore new methods of learning. Taylor also emphasized the need for societies to partner with other businesses in the community.

Assess your society. What is your social media presence? Your social media policy? What are your current projects? Publications? Other activities? How do 21sters fit into this combination? Or do they at all?

Taylor's session was spot on, in my opinion. Like it or not, the next generation of genealogy society members approaches family history from a different angle. Forward-thinking groups will capitalize on that fact and use these fresh faces to their advantage.


  1. So true, Amy.
    Even though I am ancient I consider myself as a 21ster and find myself frustrated by the practices of some of the genealogy societies I have looked into joining. There is no way they will attract people who have a 'connected' lifestyle.

  2. I agree. I feel this covers me exactly. I've only recently got into genealogy seriously and this is the main reason I haven't joined many societies yet.

  3. I agree, Amy. The next generation of society members want instant gratification with information at their finger tips. They can't fit attending meetings into a busy lifestyle and in fact don't feel in person meetings meet their needs.
    The problem is finding 21sters and like minded people to implement society changes to create forums that do met their needs.