My Favorite Ancestor and other Desperate Program Ideas

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Somewhere on the continent every year there are a dozen or a hundred genealogy societies who in desparation for a program invite members to share an account of their favorite ancestor. I'd like to suggest the program planners give that one a rest. Here's some thoughts.

One of my own favorite ancestors belonged to a local natural history society in England. Each year they published a program listing that included the whole year's programs: lectures, field trips, dinners etc. I have the list for from 1907. It takes advanced planning but you could create a list now for 2007. Here are some suggestions you might explore

Topics your local public or college librarian could teach

  1. Effective use of the online catalog
  2. Professional tips on searching the web
  3. Finding and using maps, atlases and gazetteers
  4. Identifying and using historic newspapers
  5. Collective biographies in books and on the web
  6. Local histories as a source of familt history
  7. Locating and using trade, membership and resident directories

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Program ideas using community partners

  1. Museum curator to discuss care of family heirlooms
  2. Antique dealer to discuss artifact identification
  3. Historical society staff to discuss local pioneers and their records
  4. Ethnic heritage society volunteer to discuss early immigration to your area
  5. Professional genealogist to explain on when and how to hire a professional
  6. Local archivist to discuss public and private records
  7. Clerk of the Court to describe early civil court records
  8. Coroner to discuss records created in his office historically and now
  9. Photographer to show and discuss how to care for old family photo
  10. Family History Center Director to teach about one of the FamilySearch databases.

Most of these resource people could also do a related field trip.
Add to these ideas, the genealogy education component using local genealogist to lecture on some topics and import talent for others. And to this a summer field trip and picnic, and in December a seasonal luncheon or potluck dinner and volunteer awards event. 

There are probably enough ideas for programs for two or three years here. 

But there's more. What if you did a quarterly or semi-annual workshop day? I recall a conversation with a program planner from Alabama whom I met at a national conference. She told me she was scouting for talented speakers for their quarterly all-day workshop/seminar. Perhaps your group needs a quarerly all-day event with a resource  person from out of town. Something simple like a four lectures and lunch format.  You may not attract 100 to these events like my acquaintance in Alabama reports, but who knows maybe you will attract at least 50. And if you work at organization and promotion, your quarterly events could be a state-wide attraction. 

What do you think. Are there any ideas that might work for you?  Have you particcipated in a great local  genealogy program that you think others could adapt to their situation?  Your comments are most welcome


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