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!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...