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                 February, 2009

      Charles Hansen, Editor

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  Making Your Genealogical Society Better
  &mdash by Charles Hansen

        Last month I wrote about deciding whether you were getting your money's worth at your genealogical society. Did you pay the dues or did you skip it because of my article? If you did not pay the dues, why? Could the society do something or change something so you would be more likely to sign up again?

        Our local society started in 1935, and the first president did not even come to a single meeting the whole year he was president. Do you go to the meetings? If not why not? Are they on working nights when it is hard for working people to come? In a bad location where parking costs a fortune? Get involved, join the board, even if you know little about local genealogy, a genealogical society needs members. It seems like the same people are on our board every year, and that is not good, the board needs new people and new ideas to keep the society functioning.

        Maybe you are shy like me and do not like being a board member, find another job, work in the library, index records, make cookies for the meetings, write articles for the newsletter, help out at conferences, teach a beginners class, host a mail list, start a blog, help others with their computers or computer programs.

        Perhaps you know of a database that might interest genealogists? Our library has a couple that are interesting. One d-base is what we call the postal forwarding books; the post office got a city directory each year and took it apart, then they added four lined pages between each directory page, rebound the books in sections about an inch or inch and a half thick, so there is an A book a B book and so on. When someone moved they put the forwarding address on one of the lined pages, some people moved three or four times a year, but if they are in the books you know just where they moved.

        The second data base was done by the American Legion, they went to every cemetery in the county and listed every military gravestone they could find on three by five cards. It listed the name of the person buried, where buried, and which war the person had been in, some list the informant, the unit they were in, and listed the date and newspaper for the obit. Tons of work, and the American Legion was all set to throw those cards out, but we rescued them and they are a wonderful resource. Does your library have any unique resources?

        I started out being a gene helper in the library, our society has gene helpers at the library three days a week helping people that come into the library find materials and giving them a helping hand, but not doing research for them. It is a fun job when you are busy, and you get a lot of research done when you are not busy. After a few years of that I had the chance to switch to being the gene society researcher, I answer queries that come by E-Mail, snail mail, on the local mail list, and those passed on from the library staff.

        So how can you help your society change to stay young? Get involved, volunteer for to help, get on the board, show up for meetings, learn at the seminars, help the beginners. Writing never comes easy to me, I did not think I knew anything that would be interesting to others, but I guess I was wrong there, others are interested in what I write, and you can write also. Write about something you know about and you too can be a writer. Our bulletin editor is always looking for articles to print, the state society newsletter is looking for articles, and you can write articles online for local websites, or national websites like this one &mdash Hint, Hint. Help! The local genealogical society needs you, the state society needs you, the web-based sites need you and YOU can make a difference; don't let your genealogical society die.





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