Sunday, September 30, 2012

Historic Fulshear (TX) Cemeteries Program, October 18

 FYI: this press release for a local program of interest for the Houston-area genealogy community. The Bob Lutts Fulshear/Simonton Branch Library is part of the Fort Bend County Library System.

Cemeteries can be a wonderful source for local history. Stories and clues about a town's early days and the people who settled the area can be gleaned from gravestones and historical markers that provide a glimpse into the past. Hear about the Fulshear-area's history at a special program, "Fulshear's Final Resting Places,"  at the Bob Lutts Fulshear/Simonton Branch Library on Thursday, October 18, beginning at 6:30 pm, in the Meeting Room of the library, located at 8100 FM 359 South in Fulshear.

Ken Stubbe, a member of the Fort Bend Historical Commission, will talk about the historical Fulshear cemeteries, including where they are located, who is buried in them, and the stories behind their origination. Learn about what can be done to help preserve these repositories of local history.

Stubbe has been a member of the historical commission since 2011, and was part of the team that got the Fulshear Black Cemetery designated as a historical site.

The program is free and open to the public. For more information, call the branch library at 281-633-4675 or the library's Public Information Office at 281-341-2677.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Houston Area Genealogy and Family History Calendar, October 2012

Fall is in full swing and the genealogy calendar is full of fun in October. Here are some of the activities and events going on in the Houston region this month:

All Month (October 1-31)

Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
Family History Book Sale
The Clayton Library will be holding its Family History Book Sale in October.  All Clayton's duplicate family history books will be available for sale.  These are donated books that we already own; the copies offered for sale have never been part of our collection.   

Mondays in October (1, 8, 15, 22, 29)

Katy Branch Library
Genealogy Lunchbox
12:00PM-2:00PM
5414 Franz Road
Katy, TX 77493
Join in for an informal genealogy get-together. There are computers, Ancestry.com and others to help each other with our genealogy work

October 2

MCMLS Main Library (Conroe)
"My Civil War Ancestor in the Rock Island POW Camp"
6:30 PM
Special presentation by the Montgomery County Genealogical and Historical Society. Registration not required. Presentation will be in the Genealogy and Local History Room, second floor.

October 4

Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
ILL - Interlibrary Loan? What's that?
10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Interlibrary loan allows you to obtain research materials from libraries outside the Houston Public Library system.  HPL implemented a new interlibrary loan system about a year ago.  Learn about this free service offered to increase your research sources.  Reservations required.  Please call 832-393-2600. Adults/Teens.

Galveston County Genealogical Society
General Meeting
7:00PM-9:00PM
Moody Mansion Museum
2618 Broadway
Galveston, TX

October 6

Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
Genealogy Basics Boot Camp
1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
Interested in your family history, but not quite sure where to start?  Found some information, but need to know what else is available?  Join the boot camp for an exercise in genealogical research resources!  This session focuses on starting genealogical research by examining basic tools, such as the pedigree chart, and basic research strategies.  Learn about the different genealogical materials available to researchers and how they lead to other sources.  Reservations required.  Please call 832-393-2600.  Adults/Teens. 

Houston Genealogical Forum
General Meeting featuring Dick Eastman
10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Bayland Park Community Center
6400 Bissonnet
Houston, TX

October 8

Humble Area Genealogical Society
General Meeting
7:00 PM
Humble Senior Activity Center
1401 South Houston Ave, Humble

October 9

Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
Crossing the Wild Blue Seas:
Passenger Lists of Our Ancestors
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Since the discovery of the New World, ships have been bringing passengers to our shores to start new lives.  Some of these voyages were well documented and some not.  In this talk we will be discussing how to find evidence of your ancestors on passenger lists.  Reservations required, please call 832-393-2600.  Adults/Teens. 

October 10

MCMLS Main Library (Conroe)
Genealogy Basics Boot Camp
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Interested in finding ancestors but not quite sure where to start? Need advice about what resources to use? Jump start family history research with Genealogy Basics Boot Camp. Please call the Local History and Genealogy Room to register at (936)788-8363 x6249. Presentation will be in the Genealogy and Local History Room, second floor.

October 12

Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
Beginning German Research
10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Do you have German roots but are unsure about how to get started researching records outside the United States? Are you trying to find the town of origin from which your ancestors came, and what records are available for that town? This session deals with basic-level German research, with a focus on church and civil records and how to find them and use them.  Reservations required, please call832-393-2600.  Adults/Teens. 

October 13

Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
1st Louisiana Guard: 
Free Men of Color in the Civil War
10:30 am - 12:00 pm
This presentation will feature case studies involving the Civil War pension files of two free men of color, Casimir SAM and his cousin Martin WHITE, who served in the 1st Louisiana Guard, later the 73rd Louisiana Colored Troops.  Learn how valuable Civil War pension files can be in researching the lives and family history of your ancestors.  Reservations required, please call 832-393-2600.  Adults/Teens.

Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
South Carolina History, Formation of Counties,
Sources, Special Research Problems, Hints!
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Learn about several helpful research sources (online resources, South Carolina Archives, and collections in other repositories) and hints on organizing your research.  Reservations required, please call 832-393-2600.  Adults/Teens. 

Kingwood Library
Ellis Island and Castle Carden
1:30 pm - 3:30 om
Registration is not required. Event is in the meeting room. (281)360-6804.
4400 Bens View Lane
Kingwood, 77339

October 14

Atascocita-Kingwood Genealogical Society
"Genealogy Software Programs"
3:00 PM
Rosemont Assisted Living
6450 Kings Park Way
Second floor community room
Kingwood, TX

October 16

Kingwood Library
"HCPL Genealogy Database Overview"
10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Event is in the training lab. (281)360-6804.
4400 Bens View Lane
Kingwood, 77339

October 17

Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
City Directories
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Have you ever wondered why people use city directories in genealogy? Learn how they can be useful in your research, how to use them effectively and where they may be found today.  Reservations required, please call 832-393-2600.  Adults/Teens. 

October 18

Fulshear/Simonton Library (Fulshear)
Fulshear's Final Resting Places
6:30 pm
Ken Stubbe, a former member of the Fort Bend Historical Commission, will talk about historical Fulshear cemeteries, including where they are, who is buried in them and the stories behind their origin. The program is free and open to the public. Presentation will be in the meeting room of the library located at 8100 FM 359 South in Fulshear.

MCMLS Main Library (Conroe)
Ancestry Library Edition
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Discover the strategies to find elusive ancestors in one of the library's most popular databases. Please call the Local History and Genealogy Room to register at (936)788-8363 x6249. Presentation will be in the Genealogy and Local History Room, second floor.

October 19

Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
1st Annual Genealogy Lock-In
2:00 pm - 12:00 am
Click here for detailed information and registration instructions for this event.

October 20

Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
Library Orientation
10:30 am - 11:45 am
Learn about the vast family history research resources at this wonderful library. Registration is free and open to the public. Call (832)393-2600.

Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
Lineage Day
10:30 am - 4:00 pm
Visit with representatives from many genealogical and historical lineage societies to discuss their organizations.  Get some hints that can help you identify those ancestors for entry into those societies.  Representatives include, but are not limited to, the Daughters of the American Revolution, Sons of the Republic of Texas, and Cherokee Nation.  No reservations needed.  Adult/Teens. 

MCMLS Main Library (Conroe)
High-Tech, Lo-Tech: Just Get Your Research Into Shape
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Special presentation by Caroline Pointer of4YourFamilyStory.com will give tips and tricks on how to organize your paper and digital files. Please call the Local History and Genealogy Room to register at (936)788-8363 x6249. Presentation will be in the Genealogy and Local History Room, second floor.

October 23

George Memorial Library (Richmond)
Build Your Family Tree Online
10:00 am in the computer lab
Learn how to create a family-tree website using the free resources on TribalPages.com. Those attending the class will need an email address to set up an account on this resource, on which users can add names and upload photographs, create an interactive chart, capture family stories and invite other family members to contribute information. Free and open to the public. Reservations required. Go to the library's web site, click "Calendar," select "George Memorial" and find the program. Participants may also register by calling the library's Local History and Genealogy department at (281)341-2608 or visiting the library.

October 24

Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
Unusual Resources
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Learn about some very unusual record groups for genealogical research, sources not often thought of.  Reservations required, please call 832-393-2600.  Adults/Teens. 

October 25

MCMLS Main Library (Conroe)
Montgomery County Historic Building Survey
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Presented by Jay Hrivnatz, Board Member, Montgomery County Historical Commission. Registration not required. Presentation will be in the Genealogy and Local History Room, second floor.

October 26

Bay Area Genealogical Society
"1940 Census" featuring Sue Kaufman of the Clayton Library
7:00PM (6:30 socializing)
University Baptist Church
16106 Middlebrook Drive
Houston, TX (Clear Lake City)

October 27

Chaparral Genealogical Society
General Meeting
10:00 am
Amegy Bank (2nd floor meeting room)
28201 Business 249
Tomball, TX
Meetings are open to the public. Everyone is welcome!

Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
Beginning English Research
10:30 am - 12:00 pm
An overview of some of the records you might find most useful when looking for your ancestor from England, such as census and civil registration records, parish registers and much more. Reservations required, please call 832-393-2600.  Adults/Teens. 

October 30

George Memorial Library (Richmond)
Genealogy 101
10:00 am in the computer lab
Library staff will provide basic instruction to many of the resources that are available to the beginning genealogical researcher. Items that will be introduced include print resources, materials that are available on microfilm, and online tools such as Ancestry.com and Heritage Quest USA. Reservations required. Go to the library's web site, click "Calendar," select "George Memorial" and find the program. Participants may also register by calling the library's Local History and Genealogy department at (281)341-2608 or visiting the library.

October 31

Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
Quick Start our Genealogy
Overview of Genealogical Research Tools
1:00 pm - 3:30 pm

1:30PM-2:00PM HPL Catalog
2:10PM-2:50PM Ancestry Library Edition; FamilySearch
3:00PM-3:30PM Ordering microprint from Salt Lake City
Reservations required, please call 832-393-2600.  Adults/Teens. 



*** Please confirm all information, dates and times with the libraries or groups hosting the events. If you have a genealogy event of interest to Houstonians that you'd like mentioned here, email me with the details


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Family Tree Magazine, Houston City Guide and the Writing Bug

Today's mail included a copy of the October/November 2012 issue of Family Tree Magazine. I stood at the mailbox and flipped through the glossy pages of the magazine until I reached the familiar newsprint center that contained the city guides.

This issue includes a city guide for Houston...and I wrote it.

I am very proud of this city guide because it's time the 4th largest city in the United States got its chance to be in the spotlight. This city has a rich history and its records are of exponential value to genealogists. I also feel blessed that the Family Tree Magazine gave me the opportunity.

If my paternal grandmother was still alive, I'd send her my copy of the magazine. She was a journalism major (Oklahoma A & M, Class of 1934) and talked often of her time at the Duncan Banner. She was the society columnist (sadly with no byline) until she married in 1937. That was the end of her journalism career.

In the 1990's my grandma and I were both employed in the family business. One of my tasks was to write catalog copy. Short descriptions of many similar looking items. How many ways can one describe tan leather? I'd write the descriptions and she'd proofread and edit. As tedious as it sounded, she really did enjoy editing. We'd sit on the office couch and try to make 50 almost identical items sound different from each other. Sometimes my grandma would talk about her college paper and columnist days.

Looking back now, I see this is where my writing ability came from. I'm the only one of six grandchildren to catch that bug, and I'm glad I did. I wish I'd asked her more about her brief journalism career.

My grandmother passed away before I started researching my ancestors. Since then, I was given the all the family history writing that her brother did. I connected with her nephew who made a career in the newspaper industry. I also found that her great-uncle authored Early Days in Cooke County 1848-1873. Knowing the writing history of my ancestors makes sense of my own tendency to put words on paper, computer screen, website and even this blog.

Since I can't give the magazine to my grandma, I'm going to give it to my mom. She can put it on the Coffee Table of Accomplishment.

If you get Family Tree Magazine, I hope you enjoy the Houston City Guide (there's one for Ft. Wayne in there, too).

Should your family history research ever lead you to Houston, do let me know so I can show you the genealogical sights and sites of the area. It's a great place to visit.



Monday, September 24, 2012

RootsTech 2013 Early Bird Registration Open



As my first official duty as a RootsTech 2013 Official Blogger, I'm informing you that the early-bird registration is available now.

If you've never heard of RootsTech, here is a video that explains how it is different from other family history conferences. (I tried to embed this video, but failed miserably due to the fact that it's Monday.)

The RootsTech website is filled with information about RootsTech 2013. This is a huge improvement over last year as I anxiously awaited the schedule. Here are some of the highlights of the current website:

Conference schedule including week at a glance, session schedule, and workshops.

Are you a beginner? RootsTech is hosting a special Getting Started track of sessions

There's even a special Developer Day with its own developer schedule.

Also, the Expo Hall is 40% bigger than in previous years. This is very good on many levels. You can never have too many family history and technology vendors...and there's plenty of room for books!

And of course, don't forget the special evening events.

Registration for RootsTech 2013 depends on which track you want to attend (day pass, full conference, Developer Day, Getting Started). There's even a reduced price for students. UPDATE: if you're registering for the 3-day conference, use code RT129 and save $20 off the early bird price of $149. Hurry because this super special discount ends October 12, 2012.

And....don't forget....the Family History Library is just around the corner from the RootsTech venue.

I bring you this information as part of my Official Blogger duty, but also because I enjoy RootsTech very much. It has some of the tech talk I crave and miss from my library conference days. It has a beautiful setting. It has lots of genealogy sights and sounds. It has excellent speakers. It has old and new friends.

Hopefully I will see you there.




[Disclosure: I received a complimentary registration fr my role as a RootsTech Official Blogger. Occasionally I will post information and updates about this event. The excitement, however, is my own. --A]


Who is an Official RootsTech 2013 Blogger? This Girl!


I am very, very excited to be picked as an Official Blogger for RootsTech 2013. The invitation came this weekend and I did little genealogy cartwheels when I read it.

What does this mean for you? Information about RootsTech leading up to the event. Then recaps from RootsTech during the conference.

No worries if you can't make it to Salt Lake City. They'll be streaming some of the sessions, just like previous years.

Who else is going to RootsTech? I look forward to hanging out with my genealogy friends and blog readers.



[Disclosure: I received a complimentary registration for my role as an Official Blogger for RootsTech. The excitement, however, is my own.
 --A]

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What I Scanned

It's been a while since I posted an update of my scanning project. For the newcomers since then, I'm managing a large family history project for someone. It includes a scanning component. Once a week, I scan someone else's family archives. The findings are often so interesting, that I share my observations here. I do all this in a general sense, of course. Confidentiality, and all that.

Much of what I scanned lately has been about living people, so you see how hard it is to generalize that. Many of the items are very exciting and I wish I could share them. Even though this isn't my family, I'm still fascinated by what others accomplish in their lives.

Lately I've been scanning business items. These ancestors had an entrepreneurial spirit that was passed down the generations.

Scanned items include business photos. My favorite is an ancestor in his 1900-era store. He was an immigrant and very proud of his accomplishment. He stood tall in the photo among his inventory. I spent a couple minutes just looking at the items in the store, the signs, the displays, before I put the photo back and scanned some more.

Other photos of other businesses had past employees posing around the products they created. Also in the file were early literature and business stationery.

There were also some documents that reflected the financial side of family businesses. It takes money, risk and a whole lot of faith. How scary it must have been to wager one's savings and hard work for a gamble on success. In scanning the business documents of another family, I thought of my own ancestors and living family members who have done the same.

Business history is part of family history. Do not ignore it. In fact, go forth and explore it.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Family History Month at George Memorial Library, Richmond, Texas


[Howdy readers! October is Family History Month and several local libraries are celebrating with great genealogy programs. Below is a press release from Fort Bend County Libraries.  --A]

LEARN HOW TO RESEARCH YOUR FAMILY HISTORY
AT GEORGE MEMORIAL LIBRARY

            Have you ever wondered where your ancestors came from?  Are you curious about their military service or medical history? Begin your family-history research at Fort Bend County Libraries' Local History and Genealogy Department at George Memorial Library,

1001 Golfview in Richmond. Library staff will present two programs in October to help the beginning family-history researcher start their genealogy search.

In "Build Your Family Tree Online," learn how to create a family-tree website using the free resources on TribalPages.com. The class will take place on Tuesday, October 23, beginning at 10:00 am, in the Computer Lab. Those attending the class will need an email address to set up an account on this resource, on which users can add names and upload photographs, create an interactive chart, capture family stories, and invite other family members to contribute information.

Beginning family-history researchers will learn the basics of starting their research at an introductory program, "Genealogy 101," on Tuesday, October 30, beginning at 10:00 am, in the Computer Lab. Library staff will provide a basic introduction to many of the resources that are available to the beginning genealogical researcher. Items that will be introduced include print resources, materials that are available on microfilm, and online tools such as the Ancestry.com and Heritage Quest USA databases.


            The programs are free and open to the public. Seating is limited, however, and reservations are required. To register online at the library's website (www.fortbend.lib.tx.us), click on "Calendar," select "George Memorial," and find the program. Participants may also register by calling the library's Local History and Genealogy Department at 281-341-2608, or by visiting the department at the library.



Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Texas State Genealogical Society 2012 Annual Conference Registration Open Now


REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN for the Texas State Genealogical Society’s 2012 Annual Conference, “Saddlebags to Social Networking: Following Ancestors Through History,” November 1- 3 at the Riley Conference Center in Fort Worth!

This year’s featured speaker is Curt Witcher, who heads one of the top genealogical research libraries in the nation, the Allen County Public Library’s Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

**Thursday** is Free Learning Day. Develop genealogical society leadership skills or learn how librarians can better serve genealogists. Also free on Thursday are two identical half day sessions on using FamilySearch.org.

**Thursday Night** is our completely free “Best of the Southwest” Genealogy Expo where sellers of genealogical books, services and supplies will be open for business. You’ll also visit with representatives of many genealogical, lineage and historical associations.  

**Friday** is the first of two days of concentrated education where many of Texas’s best genealogical speakers will present topics as varied as scanning and sharing family photos, Native American research, DNA, immigration and courthouse records. Friday continues the free half-day session on FamilySearch.org, plus something not seen before—a free "Getting Started" track that will help novices begin their research. Friday night is the highly anticipated Banquet with nearly $3000 in Awards granted after Lloyd Bockstruck, this area’s iconic source of genealogical wit and wisdom, entertains us with “A Black Chicken Lays White Eggs”.  

**Saturday** tops the Conference with Curt Witcher sharing his years of knowledge and national leadership in four lectures. We offer again the same free "Getting Started" all-day track for novices. ALL classes—even the free ones—require registration.  Register online at https://txsgs.wufoo.com/forms/2012-tsgs-annual-conference-registration/

**Cost** We’ve reduced registration fees substantially from past years. Full conference registration, which includes lunch Friday and Saturday, is $60 with a $10 discount to current TSGS individual or family members (TSGS membership is available on the registration forms. Benefits of membership can be found at www.TxSGS.org). You’ll want to sign up for the Banquet and purchase a hard copy of the Syllabus (free in digital form to all registrants.) If you’re attending a free session, you may order lunch. You must register to be entered in the daily door prizes drawings. 


Monday, September 10, 2012

Notes from FGS2012 Society Day, part 2

During Society Day at the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2012 conference, I attended "The Shape of the 21st Century Genealogical Society" led by George Morgan. Here are some of the main points I gleaned from the session:

Societies struggle because they need to move forward. Morgan noted that about 2% of the genealogical and historical societies out there do not have websites. The necessary tools for the 21st century are dynamic websites (no stale pages, lots of updates), blogs, green publications (e-newsletters, etc.) and technology and innovations along these lines.

To attract new genealogy society members, offer a combination of traditional and technology programs. Supplement in-person speakers with webinars. Also form special interest groups (SIGs). These could be based on research interests like world locations, ethnic groups, software or technology.

Morgan also urged societies to reach out to and work with other community organizations. He suggested a "Research-a-Rama" as a way to partner with local libraries. Members and community guests can learn about the society, the library's materials and some new skills all in one event.

Other ways for societies to connect with the community include getting involved with schools, scouts, community groups (Rotary, Elks, etc.), ethnic groups and more. Also, partner with other societies for larger events and programs, bigger profile speakers and to reach a larger audience.

Be sure to advertise each and every genealogy society event though a variety of channels. There are lots of free community papers out there, events boards at community centers and libraries, and even television and radio.

Takeaways from this session all pointed to increased community involvement for a society's success and growth in the 21st century.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Fun with Search Terms


It's time for another round of "Fun with Search Terms!" People type certain words or phrases into search engines. If the combination is right, my blog turns up in the search results. Sometimes the searches are funny. Sometimes I can provide more information to users, if only they'd comment on my blog. Either way, I enjoy the process. Please note that these searches are anonymous so I don't know who is stumbling on my blog. I just comment in the hope that they find it again.

Now on with the show. Actual search phrases are in bold.

work excuse form for funeral
Someone really wants to get out of work because there were several similar search phrases and the person kept coming back to my blog. I have no idea why. Do you really need a form? Break out your genealogy research and show how you're connected to the deceased. Of course, that is assuming you're really going to a funeral and not just trying to get out of work. 

grandmother in dar who do I talk to
Translation: "My grandmother is/was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. I would like to speak to someone in this group. Where should I start?" First read the "Become a Member" page at the DAR website. Then look up a chapter near you and contact them. They will answer all of your questions and assist you in the application process.

why good genealogical records luzembourg
Good genealogical records Luxembourg because generous indexing FamilySearch.org.

email Bruce Buzbee
The wizard of RootsMagic is very approachable. If you send an email addressed to him via their contact page, it will be read and directed to the right person. I promise.

jumpstart your family history research and get a family tree that you can pass down for generations to come
Sounds like you have it down. Nothing for me to add.

waterfalls in iowa
Does Iowa have waterfalls? I thought it was a flat state. Also, how the heck did this search land on my blog?

topics for genealogical society programs
Funny, I just attended a session about this at FGS2012. The biggest takeaway was that you should ask your members what they're interested in hearing and seeing. Here is my recap from the session.

genealogy workshops for public libraries
Are you looking for ideas? I'm going to assume so. It's best to hold general programs because your audience is so varied. Highlight the materials and databases in your library. Show patrons how to use your catalog and relevant databases (including newspapers). Basic tech instruction is great, too. Genealogists would benefit from digital camera instruction, how to blog, easy website building, writing and publishing family history, how to use an e-reader (and then promote your genealogy titles), and more. The ideas are endless. When all else fails, ask your patrons what they want.

family tree high school
Now THAT sounds like a fine place to get an education!


Thanks for playing! See you next month!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Notes from FGS2012 Society Day, part 1

During Society Day at the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2012 conference, I attended "Getting the Speaker Your Society Needs," led by Billie Stone Fogarty. Here are some of the main points I gleaned from the session:

In order to get the speakers your society wants, you have to ask the members what they want. Fogarty suggests that we gather this information several different ways such as surveys, meeting interviews or email.

Society programs should reflect members' different research needs, levels of experience, locations of interest and time frames. Do not rely on one speaker for multiple sessions throughout the year or your audience will become complacent.

Fogarty also addressed the speakers' needs from societies. She says that speakers depend on societies to promote events (though I know speakers that prefer to promote themselves. I prefer both.).

Societies must have a good venue and good equipment. Speakers do talk among each other about good and bad speaking experiences. You don't want your society to get a negative reputation.

Fogarty stresses that societies must understand all the time, money, travel and effort that goes into a genealogy presentation even before it is shared with the audience. Compensation should reflect that.

Do you want to book a nationally-known speaker for your event? Plan ahead. Way ahead. National speakers book at last a year in advance and often more.

If you're stuck for new speakers, check colleges, webinars, and the Genealogical Speakers Guild. Also consider the online lectures available at FamilySearch.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Notes from the FGS2012 Plenary Session

On Wednesday, August 29, 2012, I attended the Plenary Session of the Federation of Genealogical Societies annual conference in Birmingham, Alabama. The event was sponsored by findmypast.com.

FGS president Pat Oxley shared that FGS has a new website. Also, there is a new Bylaws Workbook for genealogical and historical societies. The price is right at $4.99. (affiliate link)

Curt Witcher shared about the Preserve the Pensions project and encouraged donations to the effort.

D. Joshua Taylor of findmypast.com was the Plenary Session keynote. The topic was "Transforming Your Society into a Dynamic 21st Century Destination."

Taylor challenged each audience member to envision his/her society as a destination. He used hotels, inns and lodges as examples. How is your society perceived from the outside? Is it a fancy high-end hotel? A comfy small inn? A dump? Or a mishmash building that's not well defined?

How is your society perceived within the community? Do they even know you exist? Taylor stated that societies must be present in their communities. They can do this through participation in local events. This includes volunteer service and charity. It doesn't always have to be about advertising and marketing your society. Add value to the community and give back. It will raise local awareness of your organization.

Taylor also stressed how important it is to associate with hotels, restaurants, libraries, etc. Your society should be a front-line resource for genealogy tourism. You should be the foremost source for local historical information. Reporters and local media should know who you are and come to you first when they need the facts.

Is your mayor aware of your society? Are your government representatives? Share their family history with them so they can experience the joy of knowing one's roots and appreciate the need for records access.

Support your local libraries. Hold combined research and genealogy events open to the community. Have a variety of programs and activities for new and experienced members, as well as those just curious about genealogy.

If your society is declining in membership, don't ignore the numbers. Those people didn't quit genealogy, they just quit your society. Reach out to them and ask why they left. Accept their feedback in a positive and constructive manner and use it to make improvements.

The takeaways from this session:

1. Get out in the community.

2. Anticipate future developments. Your society should be in a position to ACT, not just react.