Disclaimer: This post is full of my very own opinions. These opinions are not meant to offend anyone. You may agree or disagree with my opinions – and you are free to share your reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with me. However, please do not leave me hate mail full of insults. Now then, on to my post:
There is a lot of talk in the G community (the genealogy world in general) about the slowing down of memberships in traditional genealogy societies. While many of the bigger societies will survive, many of the smaller local societies will probably not.
Think about what your average genealogist looks like: retired. People do not live forever (or stay in good health forever) and therefore, if societies truly want to survive, they must find ways to reach the next generation. Without reaching for the next generation, then all of their research, all of their hard work, and many of these societies are going to disappear.
However, many of these societies do not embrace the future. By the “future”, I mean technology and forward thinking. Many of these societies do not have websites (or at least ones that are updates often). Many of these societies are not on Facebook, Twitter, Second Life, or any of the other various social networking websites. These societies are not embracing the resources that are at their fingertips – many of these resources are free!
I guess this all easy for me to say: I’m 19. I’m unique in the genealogy world. And I’m not part of a traditional genealogy society.
I am a part of the Youth Genealogists Association. It is an entirely online association for genealogists age 5-21. Having everything online for this age group is perfect because afterall, it is the computer generation.
The main reason I have never joined a traditional genealogy society is because I was terrified I wouldn’t fit in. I am a shy person when it comes to meeting new people. I am so much younger than everyone else and I figured that I was too inexperienced of a researcher to have anything in common with anyone.
But in the last year, my confidence has changed so much. I’ve joined Facebook, began talking to other genealogists, started this blog, and even went to my first genealogy conference. I finally feel like I know other genealogists and I’ve realized how much in common I have with other researchers. I love sharing research techniques and stories of success. In the last year I realized that I am ready to face my fear and join a regular genealogy society (now, if I could only get some spare money to pay for the membership fees).
The bottom line is that it is time for genealogists to accept that technology is here. Instead of fighting it, we should embrace it. While it will not give you every record, it is a valuable tool that cannot be ignored. It is time for genealogy societies to get on the bandwagon:
- Create a website that is updates OFTEN. Include useful information such as articles, member bios, etc.
- Get the word out about your meetings and announcements using Twitter and Facebook.
- Create a blog!
The above are merely suggestions and starting points. The possibilities are unlimited!
Edit (July 8, 2009): I currently want to join several genealogy societies, including the Southern California Genealogy Society and a couple of others. It took me a while to learn to deal with my own insecurity issues. However, now that those issues are gone, I am trying to save money to be able to join these societies. My family is just really struggling with money right now, so it could be a while. Good news though: My birthday is next month and I have a long genealogy wish list of gifts.
Edit (March 28, 2010): I’m now a proud member of the Southern California Genealogy Society, the California Genealogy Society, and the Association of Professional Genealogists. If I had a billion dollars, I think I would belong to every genealogy and heritage society that would take me! Each one has something slightly different to offer but they all allow me to be friends with some amazing people!