Monday, March 29, 2010

MO, St. Louis, May 15, St. Louis Genealogical Society

The St. Louis Genealogical Society presents its 40th Annual Family History Conference, "Gems of Genealogical Wisdom", on Saturday, May 15 at the Maryland Heights Centre, 2344 McKelvey Road, St. Louis, MO, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Featured speaker Mark Lowe will focus on Southern research in North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee, which were migration paths for Missouri and Illinois settlers. John Dougan and Patsy Luebbert from the Missouri State Archives will cover some interesting Missouri facts. For those interested in technology, Bruce Buzbee founder and president of RootsMagic, Inc., along with Russ Wilding, CEO, and his colleague, Eric Keith, from, will share new innovations. Interested in ethnic research? Professor Steven Rowan will discuss Why Send Germans to Missouri, plus there will be sessions on Irish, Czech, and German Bohemian research.

Need some help jump-starting your research? A beginning lecture is available, along with a session on using various types of directories. A lecture on exploring church records should also be of interest. Too many choices! JAMB will record many lectures, so just place your order and walk out the door with your audio CDs that same day.

What is any conference without vendors? There will be books, supplies, and informational booths from across the Midwest. Shopping begins when the doors open at 7:30 a.m. and concludes at 3:00 p.m.

For more information, visit

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Society Strategies Tip: Create and Maintain a Policies and Procedures Manual

Your society's bylaws provide the underlying structure that supports the way your society is supposed to work. Think of it as your society's skeleton.

But to be truly effective, your society needs more than a set of bylaws. It also needs a policies and procedures manual. Such a manual outlines the way your society functions in more detail. It's like the muscles that attach to the skeleton and that do the real work.

For instance, your policies and procedures manual might give the details as to how you conduct a board meeting (especially if you like to do it a little bit different from the way it's done in Roberts Rules). It might set a maximum value for how much your program chair can spend on a monthly program before having to ask the board for permission to spend more. It might give a set of steps for finding people to run for office (e-mailing them, making announcements at monthly meetings, etc.).

If you write all of this down in a manual (and these days, it can be purely electronic, maybe stored as a PDF file), then it can be copied and given to all of your officers. You can even put it in a members-only area of your society's website so that everyone in the society knows the details of how your society runs.

Without a P&P manual, you may waste a lot of time looking up things in your archive of minutes, trying to remember how you did something the previous year. With a P&P manual, you can feel confident that you're acting consistently, month after month, year after year.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

War of 1812 Pensions - Help FGS Preserve Them!

The Federation of Genealogical Societies, the National Archives, and the genealogical community have started a project to digitize the War of 1812 pension files—a fitting beginning to the bicentennial commemoration of this important war. Many know how information-rich military pension files can be, with comrades and family members providing service, family, and personal data. A sample of a War of 1812 widow's pension file can be viewed on an FGS associate member website.

With 7.2 million images in 180,000 files, there is much digitization to do. A donation of $25 will digitize 50 images—a donation of $500 will digitize 1000 images.

A Tribute to Marsha Hoffman Rising

As a past president of the Federation, Marsha Hoffman Rising had long supported the preservation of these documents. When informed of the pension digitization project, she remarked on how helpful the pensions had been when she was compiling her book, Opening the Ozarks: First Families of Southwest Missouri (4 volumes published by the American Society of Genealogists). The information in the pension and bounty land files helped her add much family detail and identify places of origin for the settlers.

Friends and colleagues have established a special category of contributions to Preserve the Pensions Fund, titled A Tribute to Marsha Hoffman Rising. Donations received in Marsha's name will go towards making these records available online for interested researchers. The names of donors will appear in FORUM magazine and a notice will be sent to Marsha's family.

To donate to the fund, please go to this page and click the green Donate Now button.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Society Strategies Tip: Robert's Rules

Whether you're starting a new genealogical society or maintaining an existing one, it's important that your general meetings and your board meetings be conducted in a way that is fair to all of your members and that keeps things organized and understandable.

Ideally, your society's secretary or parliamentarian should have a copy of Robert's Rules of Order, so that the officers can refer to an authoritative source when there is a question of proper procedure. Also, your society's bylaws should specifically refer to Robert's Rules by name as the go-to source when there is a question of procedure that is not covered under the society's bylaws.

By the way, the most recent version of Robert's Rules is also available on CD-ROM, and can be installed on a computer, making it easy for an officer with a laptop to have it instantly available and quickly searchable as needed during meetings.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

MN, St. Paul, May 14-15, Germanic Genealogy Society

The Germanic Genealogy Society's Spring Conference will be held May 14-15, 2010, at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. The featured speaker is Stephen Barthel, well-known author and professional researcher. Sessions include Where Are We Headed? (Family History Library News) Plus: Bizarre Stories in Genealogy on Friday evening, and Breaking the 'Sound' Barrier: Working with Phonetics, Passenger Lists, Police Records, and Unreadable Localities, The Gazetteer Goldmine: Finding Localities in Germany, Publishing Your Family History? Yes, You Can! on Saturday. For information, see the GGS website,

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cottage Grove (Oregon) Genealogical Society documents local settlers

The Cottage Grove Genealogical Society began a project in 2006 to research and write about the original settlers of the 88 Donation Land Claims in the Cottage Grove area. Their children and grandchildren would also be identified.

The Oregon Donation Land Claim law was in effect from 1850 to 1855. If a settler was residing in the Oregon Territory by December 1, 1850, a single man could receive 320 acres and a married couple 640 acres. Those coming by 1855 would receive half as much. A map showing the locations of the 88 claims in the Cottage Grove area is displayed at the Cottage Grove Genealogical Society library.

Different members of the Society chose which of the settlers to work on. As reports were finished they were published in the Society's periodical, Trees From the Grove. By the middle of 2009, 23 of the 88 were finished. These were republished in book form as Cottage Grove Area, Lane County, Oregon, Donation Land Claims, Volume I. The book is for sale at $21.95 plus postage of $5.00. It is included in the list of publications on the Society's website,

Information provided by Joanne Skelton, Recording Secretary

Thursday, March 4, 2010

2011 FGS/ISGS National Conference - Call for Lecture Proposals

"Pathways to the Heartland"
Springfield, Illinois, 7-10 September 2011

The Federation of Genealogical Societies and the Illinois State Genealogical Society are pleased to announce the official call for lecture proposals for our 2011 national conference, "Pathways to the Heartland," to be held in Springfield, Illinois, 7-10 September 2011. The conference will explore the resources of America's Heartland through a variety of regional and national topics aimed at engaging genealogists and family historians of all levels and experience. Topics relating to the Midwest, migration patterns, and religious and ethnic groups are encouraged. Wednesday, 7 September 2011 will include "Focus on Societies," with lectures, focus groups, and other special events devoted to assisting genealogical societies, lineage societies, historical societies, and family associations succeed and thrive in their activities. 

The program committee is specifically seeking new and dynamic proposals that will provide exceptional and unique educational experiences for conference attendees.

Potential categories for submissions include:
  • Focus on Societies
  • Methodologies and Strategies
  • Migration/Immigration
  • Regions
  • Repositories
  • Record Types
  • Technology
  • Religious and Ethnic Groups
  • Midwestern Records
Speakers are strongly encouraged to submit multiple proposals (more than four) as most speakers, if selected, will provide a minimum of three lectures at the conference. There is no limit to the number of proposals a speaker may submit.

Submission Requirements
Submissions should be sent in PDF, Microsoft Word, or RTF format. File names should include your last name, first initial, and proposal topic (ex: SmithJ - Organization).

Each submission should include:
  • Speaker(s) name
  • Speaker(s) contact information (including mailing address, phone, fax, e-mail). Please add your website, if applicable.
  • Prior speaking experience (speakers who have not spoken at a national conference are encouraged to submit a video, audiotape, or CD recording of a recent lecture by mail).
  • Speaker(s) biography
  • Speaker(s) brief brochure biography (50 word maximum)
  • Lecture title (titles should not exceed 10 words: title your presentations carefully, as the title that is submitted is the title that will be used in the conference program).
  • Lecture brochure description (40 word maximum)
  • Lecture outline/summary
  • Lecture audio-visual requirements (FGS does NOT provide LCD/digital projectors, computers, or Internet access for speakers).
  • Intended audience level
Proposals should be sent electronically to no later than 15 May 2010.

Additional Information
Speakers will receive compensation according to the FGS Conference Speaker Policy at

Camera-ready handouts are required for each lecture or workshop presentation and will be compiled in a syllabus distributed to conference participants. The deadline for submissions of syllabus materials is 1 April 2011. Guidelines for the formatting of the syllabus content will be sent to speakers.

Invitations to speak will be issued in October 2010 and the deadline for acceptance and submission of a signed contract will be 1 November 2010.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Nominations for the Ruth C. Bishop Family History Volunteer Award

Volunteers are the life-blood of our societies. Their time, talents, and treasure inform our decisions, bring success to our endeavors, and ensure the futures of our organizations. Is there someone in your society who has given exceptional volunteer service over a period of years? Is there someone in your society who deserves to be thanked in a big way for all that he or she has done to make your society a success? Please consider nominating them for the Ruth C. Bishop Family History Volunteer Award. Details for nomination are at the FGS website.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Your Society's Chance to Win a Free 2011 Conference Registration

For your convenience we have created a 2010 Knoxville Conference press kit for use in your society's newsletter and/or quarterly publication. Go to where you will find downloadable press releases and logos.

If you have questions regarding publicity of the 2010 Knoxville Conference please e-mail Lori Thornton at

Please let us know if you advertise our 2010 Knoxville Conference in your newsletter or quarterly as your society will then be entered into a drawing to win a free conference registration to the 2011 conference in Springfield, Illinois! The drawing will take place at the 2010 Knoxville Conference on Friday evening during our extended Exhibit Hall hours.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the life of the FGS Voice, the monthly newsletter of the Federation of Genealogical Societies.  The newsletter, which is sent by e-mail to those who subscribe to it, is now joined by this blog, which will enable FGS to get news out to the genealogical community immediately without the need to wait for the monthly deadline.

Don't worry!  The monthly newsletter will continue to be sent out as it has always been, and it will contain newsworthy items from this blog, as well as additional items such as the calendar of FGS member society events.   When you submit content to FGS Voice, it will usually appear first on the blog, and then in the newsletter.

As with most blogs, you can "subscribe" to the FGS Voice news blog so that you'll easily know when it has updated content, without the need to visit the blog itself to see.  To do this, click on the "Subscribe to this blog" icon on the right (you can subscribe to the entries or separately subscribe to the comments).  This will give you the option to identify what tool you are using to keep track of your blogs.  (I like to use the free Google Reader tool myself.)

Just like with the monthly newsletter, feedback about the blog will be appreciated!  I hope you enjoy this new way of keeping up with what's new with the Federation of Genealogical Societies, with its member societies, and with important events that affect all of us in the genealogical community.
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