Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Society Outreach: Helping Your Community Trace the History of Their Homes

Creative Commons-licensed photo from Wikimedia Commons.

In my day job as the Marketing Librarian at a university, I frequently troll the internet for good marketing examples from other libraries. This short YouTube video by the Hennepin County (Minnesota) Library (HCPL) caught my eye this week. HCPL found a creative way to market the research services and materials available in their special collections department--through the eyes of a young couple interested in finding out the history of their old house.


The Learning Experience

What did these homeowners learn through this example project?
  • That genealogy records, search techniques, and subject experts can be useful outside of the context of "genealogy."
  • How to locate and evaluate property records, city directories, and census records.
  • How to use the research services available from their local library.
  • They also learned biographical details about the people who previously lived at that address.

How Might Your Society Help? 

Consider hosting a public workshop, or series of workshops on how to conduct research on homes. But don't just go it alone. This type of event cries out for collaboration! Approach your local historical society, preservation society, public library, city or county historical commission, or chamber of commerce about partnering together on a program.

What can your society specifically bring to the table? Genealogists focus on the human element of research. We do not tell the story of a building. We tell stories about the people and generations who called that building home. Helping homeowners learn about the people who previously called their address home could very well generate interest in researching their own family histories.

While not hosted by genealogical societies, here are a few examples of organizations who have conducted these types of workshops.

Colleen Greene, MLIS
Co-Chair, FGS Outreach Committee

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