Sunday, April 25, 2010

Genealogical Societies

There are more genealogists than there are members of genealogical societies. Why do so many genealogists not join their local society? Is it because the societies are not meeting the researchers' needs? If so, how can a society and its members work together to meet the needs of more genealogists?

There are a number of reasons to join a genealogical society. There are an equal number of reasons not to join. Which is true of your local society?

  • A genealogical society, if it has a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, can be the ideal place to discuss findings and frustrations in the search for information. A discussion among members can result in suggestions for new avenues to try to break through those brick walls and to celebrate when gains are achieved.

  • The genealogical society can be a place to learn new technology to aid in research - where more knowledgeable persons assist others in learning. Without the acceptance of technological advances, the society may be considered out of date and backward.

  • The genealogical society can be a place where all members are free to express opinions and new ideas without fear of ridicule, reprimand or repercussion. "We have always done it this way and don't need to change" should not be the society's motto. A society that refuses to change to meet the needs of its members will not thrive and may not survive.

  • The society can be a place where all members are willing to serve in some capacity - as an officer, on a committee or to present a program - as all are working toward the good of the organization. The re-cycling of officers and committee members can lead to a re-cycling of the same old ideas and programs.

  • But what can you do for your local genealogical society?

  • You can promote your society at area seminars and workshops. Be willing to stand up and relate the advantages of membership in your society. Go out of your way to invite prospective members to attend a meeting and introduce them to other members. A society will not survive without new members bringing fresh ideas and new ways of doing things.

  • Be willing to serve in whatever capacity you can. If you are unable to commit to serving as an officer or committee member, offer to help with publicity, present a program at a meeting, help with a mailing or submit an article for the newsletter or quarterly.

  • Volunteer to help beginning genealogists in the society. If they become frustrated, encourage them to try again to reach their goal. Offer suggestions of other ways to look at their genealogical problems.

  • Membership in genealogical societies in many areas is down. Unless the societies are willing to show that they are willing to grow and expand, membership will continue to decrease.

    Copyright on text and photographs
    by Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG
    Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog


    Taneya said...

    Brenda -- you got me started! Please do let me know what you think?

    Kathryn Doyle said...

    Well said, Brenda. Will you consider writing for an edition of the Carnival of Genealogical Societies?

    Kim said...


    I so agree with what you had to write. I believe that we are at a crossroads in which we need to accept and encourage the growth of the technological gifts that help us in our research yet still require us to utilize the libraries, and the gifts a society has to offer. Change needs to come in ordeer to marry the two together, and to encourage the involvement of the "younger?" crew to step up to the plate.