Genealogy Classes as a Member Recruitment Tool


In my travels in the west I have encountered many inovative ideas in genealogy education. While speaking at a conference in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan I heard about a genealogy society with some creative thinkers and teachers. As a group they offered a beginnig genealogy class in the local night school program.

Those were the days when there were night school classes in Chinese cooking, beginning ukulele, Spanish for tourists, car maintenance for women etc crowding the night school recreational program offerings. The local genealogy approached the night schoolpeople with a proposal for a ten week class. They would supply the instructors and the society would be paid the instructors fee.

The society’s education committee outlined 10 lectures and three field trips, then from among the members recruited folks to teach each lesson. some team taught, some taught alone. The committee appointed one co-ordinator who attended each session and introduced the instructors each time. The tenth lessson included a segment on the value of belonging to the local genealogical society: the one where you lived, and the one covering where your ancestors lived. This was taught by the society president and the society’s journal editor.

What about the field trips? One was to the Family History Center, one to the local archives and the third visited the public library and the society’s library.

After seeing the society library, and hearing the benefits of membersip, many joined, creating a steady stream of new members entering the society each semester.

The society gained new members and a modest revenue stream to reinvest in its members’ education. you can be sure the volunteer instructors were rewarded with praise and recognition by the leadership, as they returned for several years,

The lessons were refined, handouts and overheads standardized so transitions from instructor to instructor were eased.

Would this work in your area with your society? What do you think?


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