Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New Year, New Board Members

New Year, New Board Members via FGS.org
Many local genealogical and historical societies are electing (or re-electing) board members this month. Sitting on a society board is a lot of work. It's hard enough to get volunteers to step up, so how can we make the transition easier for them so they don't run away screaming before the beginning of the year?

Need ideas for for making the transition from one board to the next less painful for everyone involved?  Guest Polly Fitzgerald Kimmitt, CG provides some ideas for that — like writing a mission statement and a brief history of the organization for the new people to review or creating standing rules for day-to-day operations. Also included are ideas for smoothing the interaction between new and pre-existing board members.

Listen to the archived broadcast of "New Year, New Board Members" 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

Want to know more?  Check out these topics from our Society Strategy Series:

How to Run an Election
Installation of Officers
Boardsmanship! Nine Principles

Also, check out one of our latest blog posts on the ins and outs of a well-crafted Mission Statement from FGS Director Cherie Bush:

Genealogy Societies: A Case for Creating a Mission Statement

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Virtual Tour of the Family History Library

The FGS 2015 conference is fewer than three months away and many attendees are already starting to dream about visiting the Family History Library while they are in Salt Lake City.

The Family History Library, which houses the world’s largest collection of family history materials, is within walking distance of the Salt Palace Convention Center and many conference hotels.  Some attendees will add a few days to their trip, either before or after the conference, while others may prefer to schedule some research time on conference days.

Library Hours

Normal hours for the library are:

Monday: 8 AM to 5 PM
Tuesday through Friday: 8 AM to 9 PM
Saturday: 9 AM to 5 PM
Sunday: Closed

The library will will be open 8 AM to 5 PM on Presidents Day (Monday, February 16) for those who are planning to research after the conference is over.

Library Layout

There are five floors: three aboveground levels and two basement levels.

Each floor has computers available for patron use, with access to the FamilySearch website, including the FHL Catalog, FamilySearch databases, and the major commercial databases. Restrooms are also available on each floor. Printers, copiers, and scanners can be found throughout the library.

The Main Floor, which is where you enter the library from the outside, has a reference desk where you can ask questions and buy a copy card (necessary if you want to make print copies from books or microfilm). There is a vending area, in case you want to grab a snack without leaving the library. There are also lockers, so that you can store your coat and other items that aren’t needed while researching.

There is also a new “Discovery Area” on the Main Floor. You can bring photos and documents from home and scan them using them using photo scanning equipment. Family Story booths in the Discovery Area allow you to make video and audio recordings and save them to a flash drive (2 GB flash drive recommended).

Repeat Library visitors will notice some changes to the B1, B2, and second floors. These floors have had reference desks in the past, but are being renovated to include new consultation areas. The B1 International floor, for example, now has separate consultation areas to assist patrons with European, Nordic, and Latin American research.

Finding Research Materials at the Library

Each floor is dedicated to a particular type of research material.

Third Floor:  US Books and Maps
Second Floor:  US and Canada Microfilms
Main Floor:  Family History and Canada Books
Basement 1: International
Basement 2: British Isles
3rd Floor: US and Canada Books
3rd Floor – US and Canada Books
The books in the Family History section on the Main floor are compiled genealogies, shelved in alphabetical order by surname. However, these books are being digitized and placed online at FamilySearch, so if you don’t find the book you are looking for, it may have been pulled off the shelf for digitization.

The other floors (as well as the Canada Books section on the Main floor) house locality books and/or microfilms. These include local history books, abstracts and transcripts, or images of original records for the locality.
2nd Floor: US and Canada Microfilm
2nd Floor – US and Canada Microfilm
Not all microfilm rolls are housed at the library. Be sure to review the FamilySearch Catalog ahead of time for any microfilm roll you may want to view.  Any items labelled “vault” must be ordered and can take up to three days to arrive, so it is better to pre-order those.

How to Get Help at the Library

Volunteers are available on each floor to answer questions. You can also sign up for a consultation with a research specialist.  A recent innovation allows you to continue researching while waiting for your consultation; you will receive a “restaurant-style” pager that will notify you when the research specialist is available to meet with you.

Close proximity to the Family History Library is only one of many reasons to attend the FGS 2015 conference. Have you registered yet? If not, check out the full program and register today.
FGS 2015 Logo

Friday, November 21, 2014

FGS 2014 Awards: The Inaugural Technology Advances Award Recipient

FGS 2014 Awards: The Inaugural Technology Advances Award Recipient via FGS.org
The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) presents awards for excellence in a variety of areas related to genealogy and history. At the recent FGS conference in San Antonio, Texas, an array of awards were presented and accompanied by a Power Point presentation extolling the reasons for the awards. Over the next several weeks, watch this blog for postings about the specific individuals and organizations who were the recipients.

FGS was pleased to present its inaugural Technology Advances Award to GEDmatch.com in recognition of an innovative product that enhances the genetic genealogy experience. GEDmatch is a free website that allows us many ways to compare and analyze our autosomal DNA results from different companies and ​with that of fellow DNA testers. There are other components of the website that do require a small fee but the basic comparisons may be done at no charge.

Curtis Rogers and John Olson, the Co-Administrators of GEDmatch, acknowledged the award with these words:

“We are thrilled, and humbled by this award from an organization so long established and recognized as the Federation of Genealogical Societies.  It is an indication to us that our efforts are achieving some success in reaching our goal of helping family history seekers by providing useful genealogical tools. It is all about people.”

They further said “we know that our volunteers, while few in number, will be equally honored and encouraged to continue improving GEDmatch. Please thank your Awards Committee and membership for this strong endorsement of our activities.”

If you or your genealogical or historical organization is interested in nominating a person or project for an award, please visit FGS Awards.

Awards will be presented at various times during 2015 but if you are interested in a nomination for an award to be presented at the next FGS conference, the deadline is 1 January 2015. Full details and a nomination form are on the FGS website. The next conference will be held 11-14 February 2015 in Salt Lake City in conjunction with RootsTech. Details are on the FGS website and everyone is welcome!

Genealogy Societies: A Case for Creating a Mission Statement

Why write a mission statement?
Genealogy Societies: A Case for Creating a Mission Statement via FGS.org
Why write a mission statement?

Don’t people know what you do? After all, the name of your organization spells out who you are, right? Maybe not. A mission statement explains an organization’s purpose, direction and reason for existence. When a mission statement is clear and concise, it can not only let others know who you are and what you do, but also motivate and inspire your members.

Mission statements outline the organization's purpose and main objectives. The statements are set in the present tense and explain why you exist, both to members of the organization and to people outside it. A mission statement can be highly motivating when conveyed clearly and with intent. This is also very helpful when collaborating with members. It can help them stay focused on accomplishing the goals of the organization.

Some reasons & excuses for no mission statement

So if having a clear mission statement is good, why do so many organizations not have them or have poorly written ones?  Some reasons could include:
  • "It takes too much time to develop them."
  • "We will never reach consensus."
  • "Everyone knows what we do, so what is the benefit of writing a statement about it?
  • "We have goals — who needs Mission Statement?
  • “We might have to make some changes and it would be hard to do.”
None of these reasons outweigh the benefits of having a well-written mission statement. Yes, writing a mission statement will take some time and may cause some changes to the group. However, a poorly written mission statement or a lack of a mission statement can be lost opportunities for attracting new members, retaining talented people, and having a thriving organization. A study done by Bain and Company shows that organizations that have "clearly defined Vision and Mission statements that are aligned with a strategic plan, outperform those who do not." In addition, a clear mission statement can strengthen the group, improve decision making and provide clarity of purpose.

What are the attributes of a good mission statement?   

  • Uses language people can understand
  • Resonates with people, evokes an emotional response
  • Communicates the “why” 
  • Is a concise, single, powerful sentence
  • Is memorable, actionable
  • Is specific

3 Elements of a Great Mission Statement

  1. Our Cause — Who do you serve? What matters?
  2. Our Actions — What we do
  3. Our Impact — Changes for the better
These three elements unite the best mission statements. Remember that one or more items may be implied. At times people make mission statements complex, but complexity does not make something more valuable. Think of this as an opportunity to give people a ‘taste’ of your organization. It should get them interested in learning more not telling them everything about your organization. Think of this as your ‘elevator speech.’

Having a clear, concise Mission statement helps members better understand board decisions and organizational changes. It helps the group have a better perspective to what is happening and how they fit in.

Some examples

Here are some examples of good mission statements:
  • Nike: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.  (www.nike.com)
  • Walgreens: To be the most trusted, convenient, multichannel provider and advisor or innovative pharmacy, health and wellness solutions, and consumer goods and services in communities across America.  (www.Walgreens.com)
  • Dell: Our mission is to be the most successful IT systems company in the world by delivering the best customer experience in all markets we serve.  (www.Dell.com)

How to use a mission statement

The next step is deciding how to use the mission statement. The point is to get your message across to others. There are many ways to share your message:
  • Website
  • Letterhead
  • Giveaway items
  • Press kit
  • Interviews
  • Cover of newsletters and reports
  • Social media
Use your creativity!  There are many ways to use your mission statement in your community.


A mission statement explains the organizations reason for existence. It describes what the organization does and its overall intention.  The mission statement supports the vision and goals of the organization and communicates purpose and direction to members and the community.


Cherie Bush

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