San Mateo County Genealogical Society's Blog featuring society events, projects, meeting notes and other items of relevance to genealogists.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Genealogical Societies Revisited


Why have you decided NOT to join a society?
Margaret Melaney

A recent posting by Gail Dever on her website http://genealogyalacarte.ca looks into reasons people join genealogical societies.  She now asks the question: Why have you decided not to renew your membership?  The results should be available on her site by the time you read this.  Here are some of her possible answers:

  • o   I had exhausted all of the society’s online resources.
  • o   My research in that region was finished.
  • o   The newsletter did not interest me.
  • o   I took up another hobby.
  • o   The members were snobby about how genealogy research should be done.
  • o   I did not like how the society was managed.
  • o   I joined another society.
  • o   I was no longer learning from the society.
  • o   Opening hours were not convenient.
  • o   No parking.
  • o   The lectures and workshops became stale.
  • o   Staff/volunteers lacked adequate knowledge to assist members.


To this we might add the question “Why have you decided NOT to join a society?”  What genealogical needs do you have that a society does not meet?  Of course, you may not HAVE any genealogical needs, like the researcher I spoke to recently who announced “I’ve traced my family back to William the Conqueror and am taking it to Kinkos to be printed and bound.”  Well fine.  But is it sourced??  Do you have all the photos, maps, documents, wax seals to substantiate and fill out your history?

Oh…you do.  Congratulations.  Will you now take up hang gliding?

Or perhaps, just possibly, the genealogical society, local or otherwise, still has a place for you.  Let’s take a look at the above list from a new perspective:

  • o   I added to the society’s online resources, and explained them to new users
  • o   I changed my focus to another region, or became the society expert in my region.
  • o   I contributed to the newsletter
  • o   I took up photography and created a book about my family
  • o   I showed people how I do genealogical research
  • o   I ran for the board and changed how the society was managed
  • o   I coordinated efforts between my society and another
  • o   I am teaching in the society
  • o   We went online, and open hours became a thing of the past
  • o   Parking is still a problem
  • o   From my contacts, I found new lecturers and workshop leaders
  • o   I’m always glad to share my experience with other members


There IS life after William the Conqueror.  And your genealogical society can be a part of it.  It doesn’t mean you can’t take up hang gliding as well.

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