Ken’s Passing

We are sad to report the news of Ken’s passing and invite you to send your thoughts, wishes, and condolences to the family via this blog or through email (see below).

Kenneth George Aitken passed away April 21, 2007 at the age of 59 in Penticton, British Columbia. He was born and grew up in Penticton, but spent most of his working years in Saskatchewan as the librarian supervisor of the Prairie History Room at the Regina Public Library. Ken was a well-known genealogist and a popular genealogy speaker and educator in western Canada and the United States. Active in genealogical organizations for many years, Ken was the charter president of the Hambrook Family History Society and served for 15 years as editor of the journal of that society. With the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society he served as a branch chairman, a director and as second vice-president of the Society. He also served briefly as the Director of Student Recruitment for Canada for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.

He was predeceased by his mother Winifred Margaret Hambrook and father George Neil Aitken. He will be greatly missed by his loving wife Christine Mei-Chiang; his son Neil Aitken; his daughter Emele (Adam) Dykes; his grandson Thomas Dykes; and his siblings: Janet Taggart; M. Neil Aitken (Ruth); Peigi Sakota (Jay); and numerous nephews and nieces.

About Ken’s Life:

Ken held a BA in Linguistics, and a Master of Library Science degree from the University of British Columbia. He had also undertaken course work in local and family history with Brigham Young University and with the University of British Columbia.

Ken was a member of the Genealogical Speakers Guild and the Association of Professional Genealogists. Ken had been a professional genealogist for over 25 years, a genealogy librarian for over 20 years and an adult educator for more than 40 years. He was currently focusing on genealogical education and was working on a book on evidence analysis.

Active in genealogical organizations for many years Ken was charter president of the Hambrook Family History Society and served for 15 years as editor of the journal of that society. With the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society he served as a branch chairman, a director and as second vice-president of the Society.

Articles by Kenneth Aitken have appeared in genealogical and family history journals and other scholarly journals in Canada, Australia, the U.S. and England.

As a lecturer, Ken spoke at conferences, seminars and workshops of the National Genealogical Society, BrighamYoung University, Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society, Saskatchewan Genealogical Society, Alberta Family Histories Society, Alberta Genealogical Society, Manitoba Genealogical Society, Ontario Genealogical Society, British Columbia Genealogical society, Kamloops Family History Society, and the Kelowna & District Genealogical Society as well as to local genealogical groups in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Columbia, Washington State and England.

Over the past two decades he had been involved in family and local history. Ken had taught classes for libraries, community colleges, church and community groups. For many years he regularly taught local and family history classes at the Regina Public Library.

A memorial service and celebration of his life will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2946 South Main St., Penticton, B.C., Saturday, April 28th, 2007 at 2:00 pm. To send condolences email us at: or visit his blog at


Who owns the rights to audiotaped or videotaped lectures?

One of the big issues among genealogy lecturers in recent years has been the poor relations between conference audio taper, Repeat Performances and the speakrs it has taped. In my role as VP of the Genealogical Speakers Guild I heeard from several speakers about their concerns during the negotiations, which seem to have failed in the end. So I was interested in this message from Tom Terrific, a motivations speaker on this topic. Tom wrote,

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Finding Future Clients with Your Audience

Adventures with Pass-along Cards
Many genealogy speakers take on lecture opportunities in order to attract new research clients. These clients being the main source of the seakers income. When they speak to a group of 30 or 50 people, they hope to attract a few new clients. Wouldn’t it be nice if those 30 or 50 could seek out new clients for you. There is a way!

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Post Card Promotion

When I was living in New Zealand in the late 1960’s I go to know a bachelor by the name of Dave Ellett who had an uncanny ability to get invitations to lunch and dinner. I worked with him for 10 weeks and learned his secret: “Thank you” notes. Dave would mail out over a dozen a week.

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Suggested Reading


Back in my university days at University of British Columbia and Brigham Young University Hawaii, professors would often hand out lists of books under the title of Suggested Reading. The lists would include chapters in scholarly articles, chapters in books, whole books and theses and dissertations. Most of us recycled the papers by doodling on the back and front during the lecture. But the smart ones actually went to the library to read the books and articles! Sometimes I include a list of suggested readings at the end of a handout under the title of suggested readings. I am sure they are never consulted.

Are genealogists like those university students? Continue reading

Why Pre-Register for Free Events?

Ken looks right.jpg

Should program planners have a pre-registration for free genealogy events?

Its a good question that deserves some thought. Personally it is my experience as a genealogy librarian and program planner that even in situations where genealogy programs are offered free to the public, that having participants sign up for the event in advance is a real advantage. Here’s why:

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Risk and Hope: The Program Planner’s Headache

Inspiration from an old barn.
On the highway north from home enroute to a speaking engagement I passed a farm so close to the road I could read easily the farm name on the barn: Risk and Hope. I smiled, because it sums up farming on the northern great plains so concisely. Later that night, homeward bound from a rather unhappy event where numbers failed to meet the program planner’s dreams, I passed the farm again and pondered anew the message in the name for people like that program planner, How do we reduce Risk and increase Hope for the program planner?

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Teaching Standards for Instructors

ken_threequarter_sm.jpg One of my favorite genealogy instructors was Dr. Thomas Warren who taught an extra-sessional course at the University of British Columbia called “Library Research for Genealogists and Family Historians” or something like that. Tom was a great teacher. Here’s why: Continue reading

On-line Program Registration

Wouldn’t it be nice if your local or state genealogical society could handle registration for its major events on-line just like major genealogy conferences? The technology is out there. We just need a host. Here’s how it works.

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Can’t Afford the Speaker Fee?

Ken looks right.jpg

Here’s a common problem for genealogical societies. They want a popular speaker for an event, but cannot afford the expensive fee. What can you offer the speaker to reduce the fee?

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