Co-op Conferencing:



To an outsider like me, some things are mystifying. Take for example the lack of co-operation among the three genealogical societies in this valley I live in. Each one has an executive comprised of competent leaders. Each one has demonstrated the ability to host excellant small seminars and workshops,  but their memberships seem crippled when it comes to supporting each other, though they are between 45 and 90 miles apart.

Only a very few  people from town A (50,000) will drive to town B (100.000), and town B will send a token number to town C (60,000) or A.    I’ve spoken to all groups. The staus quo suits me as a speaker. But economically, this makes little sense for them. Why not take turns hosting a larger conference, with one group arranging the site and accomodation, another planning the program,  and the third doing promotion and registration.  A well run conference in this valley could attract well known speakers, and lots of out of valley genealogists. But so far it has not happened. They do not even support each other in force.


Similarly, I see some of these groups do not wrk closely enough with local Family History Centres. In community C I suggests to the genealogical society they extend their one-day event to include the previous evening. If they worked co-operativly with the local FHC on advertising, I’d do a free public lecture on the Friday night that if promoted together with the Sat workshop should entice people to attend. But somewhere along the line the vision failed to enter the minds of FHC director and the society people. I gave the lecture on Friday to 48 Mormons, and two society members. An no Mormon genealogists were aware of the society event. A perfect opportunity to bring people together was muffed! Each group would have benefited supporting the other, both as a group and as individuals.  I went away puzzled.


I realize readers will be able to provide thousands of explanations for this narrow thinking. I will remain unimpressed.



3 responses to “Co-op Conferencing:

  1. Hey, in my town there are two nursing homes next door to each other. One has a great activities director with constant fun things going on; the other one, next door, has an adequate activities director with less going on. To my knowledge, these two nursing homes (one is a veteran’s nursing home, the other a community nursing home) have never cooperated on an activity. It’s no more logical than the situation you described, but there you have it.

  2. I’m going to throw out an ugly possiblity that I myself would scoff at were it not for the fact that I’ve witnessed this in the gen societies in my own neighborhood. Competition. The desire to stay one-up on the other guys. In a warped way, it involves a sense of pride and “we think we’re better” or “they think they’re so great” attitudes. My experience has been that a spirit of cooperation is rare indeed among genealogical societies. I think the competition has become even keener in recent years as membership numbers have declined. Many groups fear that if their members are exposed to a different group they may want to drop out and join that other group instead.

  3. Ken,

    A topic near to my heart!! I’ve talked about this before on your blog. In San Diego County, we have the SDGenSociety (500 members), the CGSSD (200 members) and a number of smaller societies (including my CVGS at 80 members). The meetings are within 15 miles of each other. There are only 3 CVGS members in SDGS and the same 3 in CGSSD! I know the Presidents of these groups and they are baffled too…but they aren’t in CVGS!

    I go back to my 80/20 theory – only 20% of any group are really interested – attend the meetings, go on field trips, volunteer, etc. The rest occasionally attend, but don’t contribute much. And only the “true-blue” of that 20% are really “active” – doing research regularly, attend conferences, etc. In my group of 80, only 3 or 4 of us (20% of 20%?) are in that group.

    We all need the 80% who don’t contribute in order to keep the dues low…

    The issue is “what do we offer that the others don’t?” Jasia at has some interesting comments on all of this.

    Cheers — Randy

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