Friday, November 15, 2013

Follow-Up Friday - Helpful and Interesting Reader Comments From the Past Week

It's Friday, so I like to pass on helpful and interesting reader comments to Genea-Musings posts each week,  Here is this week's batch:

1)  On What Should Genealogical Societies Offer? My 11 Suggestions (posted 13 November 2013):

a)  Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith noted:  "If each local society could accomplish these 11, Randy, there would be no need for talk of them "disappearing"!!  Thanks for sharing your excellent list! ;-)"

b)  Geolover offered:  "I'd add interface with local/County/regional library, Archive or other repository. Do they have a place for patrons to pick up a brochure describing the Society with contact information? A meeting room? Would it make sense for Society members to be present at regular times to provide genealogy-research help? Is there a buried manuscript collection that Society members could volunteer to index? Could the Society provide support such as raise money for a microfilm scanner/reader?"

My comment:  Excellent suggestions.

c)  Dawn Watson commented:  "Thank you for these comments. We've just started a new regional society (Southern Appalachians Genealogical Association) and are wrestling with the question of what benefits and activities we can offer. This is especially difficult for us because our members (all three dozen of them) are scattered across the continental US. But, your suggestions provide a good starting point!"

My comment:  My comments were more along the lines of an in-person meeting society with programs and such.  What you describe would be significantly different.  I will be interested to see what your SAGA offers.

d)  homesteadgenealogy said:  "Sounds like an inspiring discussion today! I agree with Geolover's suggestions about forming some sort of relationship with a local library or archive - what a great way to raise awareness of the group, and I especially love the idea of members volunteering to index long-lost manuscript collections that could then be shared online. I could see this going even further, if a library does not already have a genealogy section on their web site and would like assistance in building a list of their available resources. A local library or archive might also be grateful for society volunteers who could assist with out-of-state look-up requests."

e)  Drew Smith noted:  "In our local society in Tampa, we either already do these things (although in many cases we could do them more often or better), or I would like for us to seriously consider doing these things. 

"The only one I think I would disagree with is the newsletter. I think that news should be released on the website and/or Facebook page as it happens, not to wait for a monthly newsletter. Newsletters made sense in pre-Internet days when you had to collect information for a month and mail it out in a batch (what you could afford in postage)."

My comment:  The newsletter editors would like that - but we have to turn them into bloggers and emailers.  But let the non-techno folks without a computer just guess at when the meetings are?  I understand the reasons for not publishing a newsletter, but "traditional" local societies will lose a significant number of members if societies go no-newsletter or email-newsletter distribution only.

f)  Jen Baldwin commented:  "First of all, Randy, thanks for continuing the conversation. The special session of #genchat we did on this topic was enthusiastic to say the least; this is very obviously an important issue for many. 

"I would add that societies need to advance with the technology. I often hear complaints of the lack of 'young members' and I think that virtual events, offering your speakers via Skype or G+ hangout or some other live platform would be a great way to start engaging us 'kids.' 

"Personally, I cannot commit to society meetings: I have work, a family, other events such as after school events, and more that must come first. If a society were to offer me a virtual benefit, I would likely join and be engaged in that manner. But my priorities are simple: feed the family, get the kids to bed - 'it's a school night!' Societies need to find a way to educate themselves and embrace the tools that are now available to them in order to grow. Just my two cents."

My comment:  That's the challenge right there for "traditional" societies - how do they accommodate the working mothers, fathers, and students who are passionate about genealogy research.  The other major challenge is "distance" members who cannot attend meetings but like the services a society provides, including a newsletter, webinars, databases, lookups, etc.

g)  Michigan Girl said:  "Randy, Thanks for talking about an important subject. I belong to several genealogy societies from one coast to the other and over in Scotland. We are very fortunate here in San Diego to have several good societies. I feel fortunate to live here as our San Diego Genealogical Society has wonderful seminars twice a year, with well known speakers. And, we have informative monthly meetings, also with good speakers. Being part of these societies has allowed me to meet and learn from some very wonderful, experienced genealogists. And, what could be better than talking to others about our hobby/passion/addiction and knowing they won't roll their eyes? LOL!"

My comment:  I agree with you - SDGS and CVGS are two of my model societies that do almost everything I listed.

h)  Kevin Ralston of Heritage Forensics opined:  "Many of these things I've considered and run through the mill on, and the primary problem behind some of these suggestions is funding. A GenSoc either doesn't have the money or isn't willing to pay for anything. 

"Nobody likes working for free and many of the websites GenSoc's have are great examples of what you get for free (most of them suck... sorry, but we all know its true). In many cases, these "labor of love" projects have a way of become full time monsters. Since nothing is for free, somebody has to bear the cost of it.

"I would stop everything I'm doing to work exclusively with GenSoc to implement many of these suggestions, but unless they are willing to make these things happen, it never will. 

"Although I do not participate in GenChat, the things you've outlined are quite literally almost verbatim a conversation I had with a couple others in mid-Oct (hmm...). I know how to do most of the things suggested, but again (and this is something I've stressed til I'm about sick of talking about it) nobody like to work for free.

"Overall, the GenSoc as a whole needs to evolve to survive. Otherwise, they will become a thing of the past struggling on a few members if that. I would like to see them change, this would impact the industry in a big way."

My comments: Very few "traditional" local genealogical societies have paid staff - nearly every local society is run by volunteers and the society has a limited budget.  Revenue for 100 paid society members typically runs $2,500 to $3,000 a year, and things get done through a dedicated volunteer team that wants to "own" the society's activities.  Monthly programs (venues and speakers cost), yearly seminars (venue and speaker cost), newsletters, all of it gets done well by those volunteers.  

i)  Julie Goucher offered:  "Randy, I took part in this Genchat and wrote about it here

"Here in the UK, we are I believe behind Societies in the US - we have not embraced online facilities as much as we should, that is because we do not typically have the logistics of geography in the same way as the US and Australia.

"I belong to the Guild of One Name Studies and the Society of One-Place Studies, both of those have embraced online issues.

"Many of the FHS here in the UK do offer monthly meetings, typically evenings and after a day of being on my feet or in meetings etc I want to get home to dinner!

"When I consider some of the UK FHS it is about modernisation, reflection and succession planning, sadly most have not looked at this, which is a great shame.

"GenChat provided a great medium for pondering on these issues and I have thought of several more since I wrote my blog post."

My comment:  Thank you for the link to your post, Julie, and the comments about the UK FHS issues.  The American societies have the same problems you mentioned - and are gradually working their way towards modernization and technology as retiring Baby Boomers retire from their work life and embrace genealogy and give their talents to local societies.

j)  Russ Worthington chimed in:  "Great list with many options to make them happen. However, I have one, minor, suggestion to add to your list. Have FUN. "

My comment:  Amen!

2)  On Creating an Honor Wall Page on (posted 11 November 2013):

a)  treetracker noted:  "Randy, a noble effort on the part of Fold3. But... I wish that the site could combine duplicate pages instead of connecting them. It looks like a separate page is made for each military source. I connected the two profiles but I'm not sure if the delete function deletes the page or the relationship. Guess I'll just leave it as is and complete one page."

My comment:  Excellent suggestion - I hope the Fold3 folks fix that issue, or provide guidelines for users who face the issue.

b)  T noted:  "My father had a prefilled profile but my two uncles and one aunt did not so I made them from scratch. You can use a photo you've uploaded in place of their silhouette. There's a button somewhere, I looked and looked for it and finally found it. I had a lot of trouble getting my entries just right. Must be old age or impatience.  Now I see it! on the silhouette it says add a profile picture."

a)  Geolover helped:  "An interesting will.  The copying clerk might not have read it this way, but on p. 137, your 'pup (?)' is probably supposed to be 'pass,' for the phrase 'pass and entry in the house.' As in 'free passage.'

"On page 137's 6th line, after 'linen, yarn' is 'hemp' before 'flax'. You probably know that hemp was widely cultivated for its fiber, particularly for weaving material for such non-refined items as sacks and ticking."

My comment:  Thanks for the corrections - good eye!  

b)  Jodi Spade Roessler noted:  "Fascinating! I, too, have York County roots, and recently did a transcription of a York County Will written in 1797, proved in 1799, just before Adams County was created. You might recognize the clerk's surname. "

My comment:  Ah, Mr. Barnitz!  He had a steady job, I think.

c)  Michael Helfrich commented:  "Thanks for the transcript. I am researching King's Mill and the adjacent properties.  Let me know if you would like to see the house your ancestor purchased from Solomon Miller in 1792. I live in the house on the north side of the Codorus, one of the "tenements" that went with the Grist Mill. This is where he and Philip Jacob King and his family lived before the "King's Mansion" was built on the property south of Codorus Creek. Michael Helfrich 717-779-7915."

My comment:  Thank you, Michael, for the comment, and the offer.  I would love to see a photograph of the house my ancestor purchased in 1792!  Would you please email me at  Or I'll call you.

a)  Geolover commented:  "Very nice description of your hunt, Randy.  A useful missing datum from the extract from the Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths database is the identity of the informant for the record, who just might be Ruby's husband. The full name of the informant could take this record out of the realm of plausible circumstantial evidence."

My comment:  I'm going to look for the death certificate when I go to the FHL in early February.  It's on my to-do list!

b)  Russ Worthington noted:  "Did you notice in the 1930 Census, for Berl Collins, and he was a Vet ??? I just sent you a link to a record that you might find helpful. Firming up your 1930 Census findings. (I think)"

My comment:  I didn't, and am thankful that you did!  Since he was born in 1891, my guess is that he served in World War I.  The record that Russ sent me was a World War II draft registration card.  Berl also has a World War I draft registration card.  

5)  There were many more comments this past week, but my hourglass has run out for this morning's blogging, so I'll stop there.  Did anybody read all of the above?  Just wondering!  

Thank you to the Genea-Musings who comment on my blog posts - you are indeed really smart and technological adept people to successfully defeat the Captcha trap.  Somehow Mr. Anonymous does it many times a day, but rarely does he get through Blogger's spam filter!

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver