Friday, August 18, 2006

Carnival of Genealogy, 6th Edition

Welcome to the August 18, 2006 edition of Carnival of Genealogy. The topic of this issue is Genealogical Societies. We're looking at the declining memberships in genealogical societies and what can be done to reverse the trend. There are some good ideas here so let's get started!

To start us off, Randy Seaver presents If Genealogy interest is so high, why are the numbers down? posted at Genea-Musings. In this blog post Randy examines the 80-20 rule of social interaction as a possible explanation for the trend of declining memberships in genealogical societies. Check it out. Randy makes a good case for why this theory makes sense.

Also, in a post titled Communicating with Genealogists, Randy has a great idea for promoting events among genealogical societies. With a community calendar, all the local societies have representation.

And here's a post from Randy that I especially enjoyed. It's titled Abraham Lincoln in San Diego today. The genealogical society that Randy belongs to got an Abe Lincoln impersonator to address the group and combined it with an ice cream social. Some creative thinking on the part of this program planner resulted in a good sized crowd!

The attendance at this meeting was the highest at an SDGS regular meeting for a long time - I estimated about 100 seats were filled, including many guests and some people brought children. Was it Abe or the ice cream - both were big hits!

Next we have a post from David Bowles whose article A Great Review posted at Writing the Westward Sagas reminds us that people look to genealogical societies for all sorts of help. In this case David, who authored a historical/fiction novel based on his own family, looked to a local genealogical and historical society for help with his historical research.

Thank you to both gentlemen who submitted their blog posts for this edition of the Carnival of Genealogy. We appreicate you!

And now on to some blog posts that I was able to dig up on this topic...

First of all we have some posts written by Dick Eastman, author of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter. In his post Expanding the Reach of Genealogy Societies and Conferences, Dick makes a case for why genealogical societies need to reach out for new members in new areas.

On the topic of new technologies that genealogical societies might consider, Dick is truly in his element. In his blog post Wireless in Boston, Dick writes about taking wireless technology on the road to the Federation of Genealogical Societies' annual conference. We're not talking signing on to a wireless network at the convention center, we're talking about Dick providing the wireless technology at the convention center! Genealogical societies may want to take a look at the idea of offering this at conferences as well.

Continuing to blaze new trails, Dick has also delved into the realm of genealogy voice chats. In his post Announcing Genealogy Voice Chats, Dick invited readers of his blog to join him in trying out VoIP technology. The first session went great and you can read about it in his follow up post First Genealogy Skypecast is a Success! There is great potential use for this by genealogical societies.

In his post Are Digital Genealogy Libraries Going to Replace Traditional Books? Dick looks at trends in the publishing industry and how that impacts the field of genealogy.

I suspect that many more genealogy publishers will soon follow the Genealogical Publishing Company's lead. It simply makes sense to sell a book for $19.99 instead of $49.99. Electronic publishing allows this. Likewise, old out-of-print books can be republished electronically at far better prices than doing the same in print. Archive CD Books USA and other companies have created thriving business by making out-of-print books available to genealogists in electronic format at reasonable prices.

On my own blog, Creative Gene, I take this a step farther with the article Declining Membership in Genealogical Societies: Traditional Journals vs Electronic Journaling and suggest that genealogical societies should consider electronic publishing of their journals as a way to make their offerings more accessible to members and potential members.

Also on the topic of genealogical societies, George G. Morgan writes about Bringing “Value” to Your Genealogical Society in his blog on (now at He has great suggestions for ways genealogical societies can offer more to their members.

Along that same line of thought, Ken Aitken, on his blog Genealogy Education, has lots of ideas to help genealogical societies offer better programs. He has a post titled Program Planner's Blues: Blue Sky Thinking. where he suggests a newsletter for genealogy program planners is a good idea.
What very program planner needs is a monthly newsletter with fresh ideas on how to plan, implement and deliver progras; how find new topics, new speakers etc. An of course how to improve the teaching and learning environment of the program. The nice thing about a newsletter is that it comes to you rather than waiting for you to go find it like a wb page or a blog.
Also from Ken is a blog post where he ponders the idea of a group conference call, but his experience is with Read the post No-Charge Conference Calls for your Genealogy Audio Lecture for more details.

And last but not least, I have written a series of blog posts on the subject of declining membership in genealogical societies and what can be done about it. I'm not done with the series, but so far I've addressed the following topics:
  1. A Decline in Genealogical Society Memberships, the General Trend (I suggest reasons why "joining" is down for all types of social, civic, and religious groups).
  2. Declining Membership in Genealogical Societies: Traditional Meetings Are Losing Appeal (examining why traditional face-to-face meetings aren't the draw they used to be).
  3. Declining Membership in Genealogical Societies: Traditional Journals vs Electronic Journaling (looking at the limitations of traditionally published journals).
  4. Declining Membership in Genealogical Societies: Does it Feel Good to Belong? (questioning if genealogical societies are doing enough "feel good" things to keep members satisfied).
  5. Declining Membership in Genealogical Societies: Give Them Something They Aren't Getting Elsewhere (looking at what's being offered and strategizing to give members what they can't get elsewhere).
  6. Declining Membership in Genealogical Societies: Making Your Organization Accessible
    (Blogs, Forums, and Online Chats, why these are good ideas for genealogical societies).
  7. Declining Membership in Genealogical Societies: More Options for Making Your Society More Accessible (looking at how societies can use Podcasts, Skypecasts, and Wikis).
  8. Declining Membership in Genealogical Societies: Promoting Your Organization with Technology (a look at Newsletters, Online Communities, and Blog Carnivals).

Next week I'll be blogging about some radical ideas I have for redefining genealogical societies, attracting new members, and some important ways to market your genealogical society. I hope you'll tune in then!

That concludes this edition of the Carnival of Genealogy. Please submit your blog article to the next edition of Carnival of Genealogy using our carnival submission form.
Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be Writing the Family History. Have you given it a try? Are you procrastinating? What challenges have you encountered? What format are you considering? Blog away fellow bloggers and let me know what you think!