Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Records Preservation and Access Committee and Your Genealogy Society

October is National Family History Month and National Archives Month. In the spirit of giving both equal attention, let's talk about the Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC).

RPAC's mission is to advise the genealogical community on ways to support "strong records preservation policies and practices" [archives] and ensure "proper access to historical records of genealogical value" [family history].

Teri Flack, Chair of FGS member society Texas State Genealogical Society's RPAC and the state liaison to the national RPAC, discusses the work that RPAC does, and how you and your society can help RPAC's mission on local, regional, and national levels.

If you're interested in getting involved individually or as a society, check out the downloadable publications for more information on ways to help. There are still many states that do not have liaisons, and it's a safe bet that existing state liaisons could use an extra hand or two.

Listen to the archived broadcast of "Records Preservation and Access Committee" on the blogtalkradio My Society channel by FGS, or you can listen below:

Check Out History Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with mysociety on BlogTalkRadio

Monday, October 20, 2014

Calling for FGS 2015 Conference Volunteers

Are you planning to attend the 2015 Conference February 11–14 in Salt Lake City, Utah? Have you thought about volunteering to help

Volunteer at FGS 2015A conference can't run without volunteers. All those things we take for granted — from registration, to help finding a seat in a crowded session, to answers for all our logistical questions — happen because of volunteers.

For the 2015 conference, FGS needs volunteers for registration, hospitality/information desk, and monitors for session rooms, luncheons, and a social event.

Volunteering can save you money. FGS will refund volunteers a portion of their registration fee after the conference. To be eligible for a refund you must register for the full conference prior to January 23, 2015. The percentage of refund depends on the number of hours worked: 8 hours = 20%, 12 hours = 40%, and 16 hours = 65%.

For more information see the Call for FGS 2015 Conference Volunteers  and complete the Volunteer Form.

Need more incentive? Read what a couple of former volunteers have to say about their experience. 

Roberta Martin, a volunteer at past FGS conferences: "Volunteering at an FGS conference is a great way to get to meet people! My first two conferences I did not know anyone. Working as a volunteer gave me three things: an easy way to meet and interact with a lot of like-minded people, a sense of purpose, and a great way to give back. Try it, you'll like it!"

Marilyn Talbot, a volunteer at FGS 2014: "I enjoyed my first experience volunteering at FGS in San Antonio. I was a bit worried at first, but it was great fun. I helped with registration and hospitality, and would not hesitate to do it again. You meet so many interesting people."

Register and volunteer for FGS 2015 today.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Societies: Here's a Great Program Idea

Briscoe Center for American History (Credit: Caroline M. Pointer)
While compiling information on what's happening this month, I was struck by two things: 1) American Archives Month was set up to teach the public about the importance of maintaining historical records and 2) Many of the announcements regarding Family History Month events are posted online only a day before or, in many cases, the same day as the event.

The reason I mention the purpose of American Archives Month, is that it clearly shows the communication disconnect between the resource repositories we use as researchers and us. You don't have to go very far to find a campaign that shows just how generous family historians and genealogists are when they are called to preserve history: The Preserve the Pensions campaign exploded during what was to be a simple event at FGS2014 and turned into an enormous, and dare I say incredibly entertaining, success. Just read what Judy G. Russell, The Legal Genealogist, said about her experience; you can't help but smile about the effort and the outcome. While money is very important, there are so very many aspects that play into the success of a repository.

The professional archives world is working to educate us and there's plenty of education to have. There are lots of Archives that run programs for the public to help us understand what it takes to be the stewards of the materials we use. The communication disconnect happens when we don't take advantage of those programs and the repositories, or those who oversee the repositories, believe that there's no interest in the educational process or the materials.

The irony in this situation is that many genealogy societies struggle to get people to attend their meetings and/or educational sessions. It's a battle between getting people to join the Society, getting them to invest their time in being active members and finding ways to keep the members you have engaged, right?

Why not kill two birds with one stone? Contact a local repository and ask about bringing your group to see the collection that they have. This provides the opportunity for the local repository to do something they want to do (educate the public), allows your Society to do something you want to do (engage your members) and does something that many researchers would like to do (see an archives and understand what value it has for them and their research). Additionally, you could ask the archivist at the repository if they would be willing to come to your meeting to present to your group. Both of these options help to open the communication between those who care for the primary materials we need and us.

Family History Month continues with lots of programs going on across the United States. But, those programs may not have the attendance you'd like if the notices aren't posted with enough advance notice for people to get there. Why not try posting your event, with appropriate permissions of course, to local Facebook and Google+ groups? If you are a FGS Member Society, enter your event on our Upcoming Event Calendar. Announce them on Twitter with the hashtag for your location, or out on listservs for other groups, like history, historic preservation, etc. Don't forget the home schooling groups; they're a great way to get the next generation interested in joining your society!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Home is Where Family Begins

Where did your ancestors live? Not just geographically, but literally? Do you know?

While looking for interesting events happening during Family History Month, I came across the website of The National Register of Historic Places.  They're celebrating Family History Month by sharing resources that can help you uncover where your ancestors may have lived; highlighting buildings on the Register and sharing resources for putting a location on the Register.

(c) 2011 Laura C. Lorenzana
Wouldn't this be a great way to honor your ancestors? As your research for who your ancestors are progresses, often times locating land and tax records becomes a focus to ensure you've done your reasonably exhaustive search. This site has lots of great resources to help you move your research to the next level. You might even find that home your great grandparents lived in!

(c) 2011 Laura C. Lorenzana

Remember, also, genealogical societies have many of the same type of resources that can help you ramp up your research. The value in joining a society comes in the information that they have; the collective knowledge acquired from years of research. Tap into that knowledge base by exploring a local society today to see what they have to offer.