Feb 162015

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) held their conference in Salt Lake City as a combined conference with RootsTech. It was extremely good value to pay the early bird price and then the add-on for the second conference.

FGS ran a Librarians Day on the Tuesday, that I did not attend as it filled up fast, and on the Wednesday they did a Society Day. As President of my society the Southern Suburbs Branch of GSQ I was very much looking forward to this.

All societies face challenges with the increasing  availability of records online, mass advertising saying that “just type in a name and your history will be shown” giving the impression that it is instant genealogy, being able to be relevant in an ever busy world being able to give value to potentially remote members, being relevant to potential younger members. Many societies have an aging membership and as they say “the only sure things in life are deaths and taxes”.

As I was helping set up our booth I did not attend the keynote with Curt Witcher talking about societies “Embracing the Future” or the morning sessions. 

You had plenty of choice as there were a choice of six streams of talks to determine which to attend.

For example in the morning sessions:
Connecting, Exploring, Refreshing: Marshaling Change in Your Society
Engaging Your Long Distance Membership
The Policy and Procedure Manual: Preventing I Didn’t Know That!
Using Cemeteries to Uncover Forgotten Histories
Communicating on a Shoestring Budget: Cost Effective Solutions for Societies
TechSoup -Technology by the Bowlful

And they were the choices in just one session!

My first session was with Judy Russell talking on “The Ethical Genealogist” An important topic for us all as individuals and also as society board members.

Judy is an excellent speaker and is a Certified Genealogist and a Certified Genealogical Lecturer and this really shows in her lecturing as she has the ability to take difficult subjects and make them interesting and enjoyable.

If you ever have the chance to hear Judy talk, run don’t walk to enrol in her session!

The next session I attended was the “Bringing Your Society into the 21st Century with a DNA Interest Group” by the effervescent and very knowledgeable CeCe Moore.

Lisa Louise Cooke

I am a member of a DNA SIG at the Queensland Family History Society and so this was a very pertinent presentation. The International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) has great resources for any society considering starting a DNA SIG and many educational resources for anyone interested in DNA for genealogy. CeCe Moore said “DNA SIGS are a great way of attracting people to your society especially if you promote meeting to general public” Also way of reactivating interst in your members who have become a bit blase about their research due to brickwalls etc.

Then it was “Video Marketing: YouTube Strategies for Societies” with the effervescent Lisa Louise Cooke. 

I was particularly interested in this as I want to do a welcome video for new members showing the rooms and resources so new researchers feel more confident when they first come to the premises. All going well we will also do some short instructional videos on using some of the databases.

I was very happy with the Society Day and FGS are to be congratulated on providing this resource for all societies.

There were many other presentation son this day I wanted to attend but as I have not managed to clone myself could not. So I was very pleased to read on Judy G. Russel’s blog that I could buy recordings of at least some of the ones I could not attend from Fleetwood Onsite. For the Society Day there are 14 presntations that were recorded (and 13 that were not). They are available on a CD-Rom or as MP3 on a USB and I think may also be able to be downloaded.

You can also buy recordings from previous conferences so if you really enjoyed a particular presenter look to see what may have been recorded at a previous conference.

I was also talking with Randy Whited who was the presenter of FGS Radio – My Society, podcasts designed to be informative for the administration of societies that there is a plan to restart these. Still early days but I was very pleased to hear this as I have found them very useful. You are still able to download these using iTunes or equivalent and it is a great way of learning while you are doing housework, driving, gardening etc.

So FGS in the words of Jim Nabors of Gomer Pyle USMC fame “Thankee, thankee, thankee”

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