National Family History Month Ideas, Resources

From the newsletter of the National Genealogical Society comes these tips and ideas. You can subscribe to this newsletter at this link: http://upfront.ngsgenealogy.org/. When you arrive at the linked page, scroll down near the bottom of the page to the narrow left hand column for chances to subscribe by email or by RSS reader.

UPFRONT WITH NGS
The Blog of the National Genealogical Society
10 OCTOBER 2011
October is Family History Month! Let’s Celebrate …
Special events and activities abound. Do check out if your local society, library, archive, etc have any special events planned!

Some of what has crossed our desk includes:
o Kimberly Powell, About.com talks about how you might celebrate Family History Month
o Family Tree Magazine is offering some Free Webinars:
o Start Writing Your Life Stories with Sunny Jane Morton, author of the book My Life & Times: A Guided Journal For Collecting Your Stories, takes place Thursday, Oct. 13 at 1 pm Eastern Time (noon CT, 11 am MT, 10 am PT). Click here to sign up for this webinar.
o Be a Family History Detective: Secrets to Starting Your Genealogy, with Desmond Walls Allen, author of the book Family History Detective, is scheduled for Oct. 26 at1 pm Eastern Time (noon CT, 11 am MT, 10 am PT). Click here to sign up.
o The State Library of North Carolina has created a page with many tips and great resources for either starting or pursuing your Family History

What is happening in your community or state? Please let us know!
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copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
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Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS.

Why Should A Genealogy Society Give Records Away?

By Jeffrey A. Bockman, Naperville, IL
Originally published in the FGS FORUM, Winter 1997, page 25
Now available for viewing at Genealogy According to Jeff at www.JeffBockman.com/gatj .
Reprinted here with permission.

There is a vast amount of family history currently available on the Internet and on CDROM that is incorrect, undocumented, or fictitious. Yet, with the growing interest in family history many searchers will stop with these easy-to-find “instant families.” David E. Rencher stated in “Where In Cyberspace Are We?” (FORUM 9:2 (Summer 1997) page 3), that presently the Internet offers a search environment but “the field of electronic genealogy… has yet to create a research environment.” Genealogy societies should be leading the way in creating a research environment by providing information so that verifying an “instant family” is as convenient as finding the family in the first place. But how?

One way in which societies can help to create a research environment is to rethink traditional ways of distributing and sharing the information that they compile. The traditional method of sharing is to publish and the process is:

1. Compile information from vital records, cemeteries, ledger books and other sources and enter into a word or data processing program; then format and proofread.

2. Take the manuscript to a printer and have it published.

3. Store, advertise, and hopefully sell the resulting publication.

A closer look at this process shows while step 1 is critical in getting the information in a form that can be shared with others, the dissemination, steps 2 and 3, is open to question. Step 2 benefits a printer/publisher while step 3 benefits a society-but only if sales are good and income exceeds expenses.

This traditional procedure has other flaws. First, distribution potential is limited. A user benefits if he or she can find the publication, but it may only be available from the society by mail or at local workshops. If it is advertised in national genealogical publications, it competes with hundreds, perhaps thousands of similar titles. Even library use is limited: users may find the book only in a local, regional or national library which specializes in genealogy. Thus, a researcher could spend more time and money trying to locate the information than in actually using the information.

The market is limited, too. Few people want to purchase a publication to look up only one or two events. They have other options. They can ask the county clerk or the cemetery office to find one or two entries. Or, they may write to the genealogical society who offers searches as a courtesy or for a slight fee.

A third drawback is the risk involved. The society takes all of the risk. It has to determine print quantity based upon printer volume costs, anticipated demand, and storage facilities. The society must advertise and give free copies to some libraries or for book reviews. Society volunteers must retrieve books from storage, haul, unpack, and display them at conferences, then box and return unsold books to storage. If publishing, storage and advertising costs, and the wear and tear on volunteers exceed profits, the risk has been too great.

This traditional distribution channel, with its flaws, should cause societies to reexamine their ultimate goal in compiling and distributing information. If society goals are to a) preserve and make available genealogical information; b) promote an interest in genealogy; and c) encourage proper research techniques; there may be a better way to achieve them.

Why Not Share With Everybody?

The target audience for the dissemination of information in published form are the society members, people doing research in the jurisdiction, and patrons of selected libraries. This is really a very small audience. If a society seeks to share information with the widest possible audience, why not share with everybody?

The Internet is the new communications frontier. Anyplace in the world is only nano-seconds away. If every society and county government put their records on-line a researcher who only needs information about a single event would be able look it up from home or the local library with internet access or at an “Internet coffee shop.”

Ideally, if the person found the desired event from a detailed on-line index, they could order a copy of the certified record by entering credit card information or obtaining an invoice number. Further down the Internet road, the actual certificate could be scanned and stored on-line and viewed or transmitted automatically. Authenticity or a means of preventing manipulation of the image would need to be established.

Benefits

While many societies are beginning to discuss this issue they look at it from a personal or society viewpoint rather than from a global viewpoint. Instead, consider a wider range of benefits:

Publisher:

None – loss of income
Government Agencies:
Time savings from not having to look in book indexes
Faster access by using the electronic index
Only activity would be with paid certificate requests
Possibly less floor space needed for index storage and access
Genealogical Society
No financial risk from over-printing
No handling and storage, save time and costs
Less Income but less need to purchase other indexes
Improved recognition and wider audience with home page link
Requests for hard copy can be automated and printed on demand
Global Audience
Faster, easier access to useful research data from across the country without leaving home
Eliminates need to review on-line library catalogs trying to find the closest copy of a printed index
Information could be annotated to show corrections and the source
Members
Attend sessions and socialize rather than sitting in a hallway selling books
Do not have to wait for replies to letters and the cost of SASEs
Achieve immediate action and results on new clues or ideas
Could actually spend time doing research on their own family
Summary
There is already competition to some of the traditional functions done by a society. GenWeb is providing information on area resources and posting queries. Volunteers on the Internet are providing free research. Libraries and counties are putting records on-line to preserve them, and to save storage, viewing, and parking space.

If one of the purposes of a genealogical society is to help make information readily available then what better method is there? Societies are non-profit organizations. What money they do realize from publication sales often goes to purchase other publications for the use of members. But there are other options. Money can be earned through workshop, class, or lecture fees. Profits can be used to disseminate information more widely: by providing additional Internet resources, Internet access at the local library or society library or office, or supporting the storage and access cost of the county GenWeb site, a society home page or on-line vital record storage.

Once a society is convinced of the benefits of this new and more effective way of disseminating information, they can start small and work up to more ambitious projects:

1. Provide the following information on-line:

Places to do research, hours and holdings
Handy guide to the type of historical information that is available
Access instructions to vital records or the indexes
Queries
2. Compile indexes and make them easily available.
3. Assist counties and repositories in getting images of the actual records on-line with easy search and retrieval systems.

If everyone would “Do for others as you would like them to do for you,” we could all make electronic genealogy work for us. We could be making verification of information now available in Internet’s search environment quick and easy. We could be establishing research environments to complement and enhance the existing search environment, and we could be turning searchers into researchers.

Yet Another Thing To Think About

The post that follows this one is by Jeffrey A. “Jeff” Bockman. I ran across it over on Google+. It is one of those mindset changing things. I hope you will read it, and we can engage in a discussion in person or online or both. I think it has merit.

While going to Jeff’s site, I ran across a book of his which I think might just make a good Christmas present for someone you are trying to get interested in genealogy or your family’s specific history. You can take a look at it at this link: http://www.jeffbockman.com/gatj/giveaway. When you get there, click on the picture of the book, “Give Your Family a Gift Money Can’t buy.”

Deason

Civil War Vet Dedication Oct. 22

Mark you calendars. The dedication of the Civil War stone for John T. Potter, on Oct 22 (his 164th birthday), at Shady Grove Cemetery, Winnsboro, TX, at 10 a.m.

Celebrate Family History Month

Family History Month - Archives.com

Query: Ray Reunion?

Is there an organized Ray reunion group still in existence? I was a life member of that group. I have not had any notices or news of any kind for years. Can you put me in touch with any remains of this group?
Sally Ann Ray Reeves
Katy, Texas
Elijah Ray Descendant
sallann@msn.com

Reminder: Lunch Tomorrow at noon

Tomorrow (Mon, Oct 3)
12:00pm noon — Lunch dutch treat at Taste of Texas to recognize those outside the society who have helped us with projects and our success this year. All members who can are urged to be there tomorrow.

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