Tag Archives: Federation of Genealogical Societies

Getting the Most Out of Your Membership: FGS

This is the next blog post in my series on getting the most out of your memberships by taking personal responsibility. To read the original post, click here.

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) is a bit different from other societies in that its main purpose is to serve members at the society level, rather than the individual level, focusing on society management and issues with records access and preservation. The website proclaims it to be “a gathering point for genealogical societies with resources to grow & thrive.” Also, “representing the members of hundreds of genealogical societies across the United States and other nations, the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) is here to link the genealogical community by helping genealogical societies strengthen and grow.” So you may not look at this group the same as you would National Genealogical Society (NGS) or the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) or your local or state society. However, the principle of getting what you give is the same.

Is your local, state, or regional society a member of FGS? If you don’t know, you can check on the “Find a Society” directory page. If they are, do you ever hear any announcements or read any FGS news in your local society’s newsletter, at their monthly meetings, on their Facebook page, blog, or other form of society communication? If not, I would guess that your society’s leadership is not taking advantage of their membership and may even be saying “We aren’t getting anything out of this membership.” Here are the FGS society member benefits (from their website):

  • Be listed in the Find a Society directory
  • Access to the FGS Members-only Area
  • Reviews of your society’s Bylaws, Newsletter, and Website
  • Access for your Board of Directors to FORUM (Anyone can subscribe to the FORUM, so even if you aren’t on the board of a member society, you can still get this valuable magazine)
  • Have your submitted events and webinars listed in Society Events.
  • Access for your Board of Directors to the FGS Webinar Archives and available Focus On Societies audio recordings from past FGS conferences
  • Access to the FGS Reach Out series of white papers, which cover topics related to creating partnerships with other organizations in your community or region
  • Access to the archive of issues of FGS FORUM from 1989 to present
  • Access to details of Partner Benefit Program discounts with companies such as MyHeritage, Genealogy Gems, Vivid-Pix, and Dell Computers
  • Access to the FGS Member Society Leadership Forum Facebook Group
  • 10 free FORUM subscriptions/year to give as door prizes at society events

All of these member benefits take a little bit of effort from the FGS Delegate (or President) of the member society. You have to submit your society’s events if you want them to be included in the calendar, you have to send an email to request those free FORUM subscriptions for door prizes, you have to log-in to your account to access the partner discounts, you have to submit your bylaws, newsletter, or website to get a review. And so on.

And if you haven’t heard anything about FGS from your society’s leaders, despite being a member society, maybe they need a delegate. Consider volunteering for this position and be a great delegate, bringing valuable member benefits to your society!

**Of course these statements may not reflect everyone’s experience. If you have had a different experience and/or a legitimate complaint, PLEASE take it up with the proper direct channels for that organization. I’m sure they want to know their members’ views and to try to make it right. This blog is only expressing my personal opinions and is not the place to vent your frustrations with a given society or organization.

Getting the Most From Your Memberships: Personal Responsibility

I am a member of a lot of societies, near and far, local, regional, and national. And I serve on several boards, locally and nationally. So this post comes from my personal experience from all of those realms, not any one group in particular. I hear colleagues, friends, and Facebook acquaintances say about their various memberships that they “just aren’t getting anything out of it.” And that statement always makes me pause.

I have always lived by the principle that you get what you give. If you don’t give time, effort, energy, or attention to something, you are going to get very little out of it in return. This goes for various memberships and subscriptions in all aspects of life, not just in the world of genealogy. (For example, have you checked the benefits for your Alumni Association lately? So when someone says they aren’t getting anything out of something, I truly believe they are probably putting little effort into it. If you don’t have time, or if it is not a priority for you to put time into that particular membership, then perhaps it is not the membership’s or the society’s failure, but rather the effect of your own priorities. There has to be a level of personal involvement and responsibility when it comes to what YOU are getting out of your memberships.

I am writing this series of blog entries to try to convince my friends and colleagues to be cognizant of what they are actually saying when they say “I’m not getting anything out of my membership.” If a particular membership is actually not offering anything of value, then by all means, don’t renew it. However, if it provides a long list of benefits that you are choosing to ignore (whether on purpose, or because you don’t have time, or you didn’t research it), and I mean this in the nicest possible way, but that is on you. If you ignore/delete/archive emails that provide important announcements about your membership benefits, again, that is your choice.

And I fall into this trap as well; I am not claiming to be innocent here. However, I’m also not blaming my lack of getting anything out of my memberships on the societies themselves. I realize that I am just too busy with X, Y, and Z to take full advantage of the benefits of a particular membership. This means that I have three choices: I decide to not renew; I decide to renew anyway, being supportive of the group, but knowing I won’t be getting full value out of that membership; or I decide to re-prioritize and make an effort to get everything I can out of my membership.

I hear this complaint again and again. I’m not singling out any particular person or group with this post. Like I said, I’ve been involved in many societies and I have heard this sentiment at all levels over many years. I’m not sure what else societies can do for their members if their members aren’t reading society communications or taking advantage of the benefits their membership already provides. Remember that most of these societies are volunteer run organizations and they are doing as much as they can with the resources they have. If you want to see changes or improvements, volunteer to help.

At the national-level, there are three “big” memberships (there could be more in this category, but these are where I am currently focusing): the National Genealogical Society, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and the Association of Professional Genealogists. There are a host of local, state, regional, and topical societies as well (including lineage societies, geographical focus groups such as german genealogy, and others). Over my next few blog posts I am going to highlight benefits that are available at these national groups and at local levels to remind you of what you can get out of your memberships when you put some effort into them.

**Of course these statements may not reflect everyone’s experience. If you have had a different experience and/or a legitimate complaint, PLEASE take it up with the proper direct channels for that organization. I’m sure they want to know their members’ views and to try to make it right. This blog is only expressing my personal opinions and is not the place to vent your frustrations with a given society or organization.

FGS Conference Registration is Open

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Another great conference opened registration this week. This time it is the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ annual conference, that will be held in Fort Wayne, Indiana, home of the Allen County Public Library! This conference is taking place August 22-25, 2018. You can read more about it at the conference website. The full program has also been released and can be viewed here.

Summer and Fall Schedule

The summer is fast approaching! It seems like Christmas was not that long ago. (Don’t tell anyone but I still have a string of Christmas lights hanging on our banister.) Since April is already here, I thought I’d take a moment and share my Summer and Fall travel and speaking schedule with you. Exciting things are on my horizon and I hope to see some of you at one of these events!

April

May

  • May 7 – 15, my spouse and I will be taking a trip to Salt Lake City for nothing but research, research, research!
  • May 21 – I will be attending the Austin Genealogical Society Annual Seminar featuring Thomas MacEntee.

June

  • June 2-5 – I will be attending the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree, and will be presenting on Sunday.
  • June 15-25 – I will be on a family vacation to Detroit Lakes, MN with a few genealogy stops tucked in somewhere along the way.
  • June 26- July 2 – I will be attending GRIP and taking the Forensic Genealogy course.

July

  • July 9 – I will be speaking at the Austin Genealogical Society, Education Program – “Intermediate Concepts in Genealogy”
  • July 17 – 22 – This year I am lucky enough to attend both weeks of GRIP. The second time, I am taking the Practical Genetic Genealogy course.

August

  • August 3 – I am presenting a webinar for the Minnesota Genealogical Society titled “The Third Coast: How the Great Lakes Shaped America”
  • August 13 – I will be speaking at the Austin Genealogical Society, Education Program – “A Tour Through Major Record Types”
  • August 25 – 27 – I will be attending GenStock to see what it’s all about! (Click here to read a blog post from Rev. David McDonald, CG who attended last year.)

September

  • August 31-September 3 – I am attending the FGS Annual Conference in Springfield, IL.
  • September 17 – I will be presenting an all-day seminar in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas for the Village Genealogical Society.
  • September 22-25 – I am attending the APG’s Professional Management Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I will also be presenting a program on Thursday titled “PERSI Possibilities: Better Research with ACPL’s Periodical Source Index”

October

November

  • November 11-13 – I am considering attending the FamilyTree DNA Conference in Houston, but we will see what my budget and energy will allow by then. After writing up this list, this one may have to wait until next time.
  • November 17 – I will be speaking at the Sun City (TX) Genealogy meeting.

Wow! I’m exhausted just writing this up! Well, that’s what’s in store for me for the rest of the year. I’ve got other projects underway as well. So, if you find yourself near me at any of these events, be sure to say ‘hi’!

Connections at Conferences

FGS2015_Logo_01Genealogical conferences, like the recent FGS 2014 conference in San Antonio, are as much about reuniting with far-flung friends and making connections with new ones as they are about the wonderful educational opportunities. Attending the high quality lectures invigorates me, renews my energy for finding ancestors and gives me new insights on projects I’m working on. Plus, I get a chance to visit a city that I’ve most likely never been to before. If you’ve never attended a conference, I encourage you to do it. The next national conference will be the FGS 2015 conference combined with RootsTech in February 2015.

I have the following tips for making good connections at conferences:

  • Don’t go alone. Plan to attend with a friend who has gone to a conference before, especially if you have never attended one yourself. They can show you the ropes and perhaps introduce you to some folks they’ve become acquainted with, breaking the ice for you.
  • Attend at least one luncheon. You will have the chance to sit at a meal with other genealogists and make new friends.
  • Talk to people in the exhibit hall, not only the vendors but also volunteers and other attendees.

    Overlooking the FGS 2014 Exhibit Hall
    Overlooking the FGS 2014 Exhibit Hall
  • Attend unusual lectures. Sometimes I attend lectures that are on topics I have no research projects in. I find I always have a good time and I definitely learn something new. Also, new methods are almost always applicable to any project and get you thinking about your work in a different way.
  • Go out to dinner with new people. Find a new friend or two (or seven) and go to dinner with them! This is one of the best ways to form new connections and see the city.
fgsfriends
clockwise from left, me, Jen Baldwin, Rorey Cathcart, Barry Kline and Deena Coutant

Over the years, I have made so many great friends by attending conferences and every time I attend, I make even more! Not only are these friends fun, but they can be very helpful in giving insights into your research, giving opinions on documents, taking classes with online or at institutes, or by sharing your finds with others who are interested. Consider making some new connections at the next conference!

 

Four Favorite Features of FGS 2014

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My kids and pup pose at one of the Texas State signs.

[Author’s note: I recently relocated with my family to a suburb of Austin, Texas. Yes, I am now experiencing the sweltering heat, the suffocating humidity and the excitement of learning about a new area. But we bought a house with a pool so I will have a chance to survive! Thus, this post came out a little later than I expected. I am without internet access (except for time spent at my local Starbucks) so getting my online life back together is going to take a little while, but bear with me and thanks for reading!]

Last week the Federation of Genealogical Societies hosted their annual conference in San Antonio, TX which has to have been my favorite conference so far. And not necessarily for the reasons you might think. Here are my three favorite things from the FGS conference:

1. PERSI

One of the most exciting research tools I learned more about at this conference are the advances being made with PERSI by Find My Past (FMP). They are working to make it this elusive index more accessible to researchers. PERSI stands for the PERiodical Source Index which indexes genealogical society publications, both small and large, and contains 2.5 million indexed articles from 8k publications. The Find My Past website states:

“The PERiodical Source Index (PERSI) enables you to easily locate key information about people and places. It contains over 2.5 million entries from thousands of historical, genealogical and ethnic publications, making it an invaluable, comprehensive family history resource.”

So far 21k page have been digitized and are available to view on the site! The index is free to use with a registered account (free) and pages ordered through the ACPL. The available images can be viewed online with a FMP subscription.

FMP is focused on connecting with editors and copyright owners, not only to obtain new content but to get permission to digitize images from those items already indexed in PERSI. FMP also wants to know what geographical areas and publications you are most interested in seeing digitized next. Click here to fill out the survey!
[https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/persisurvey] To contact FMP for more information, to disucss the copyright of your society’s material or find out about societies@findmypast.com

PERSI is a resource not to be overlooked. Articles about ancestors, geographic locations, and other topics of interest were published in genealogical journals all across the United States. Without PERSI it would be impossible to know just where to look for that article that might hold the key you need in your research.

2. Preserve the Pensions

fgs totals
From D. Joshua Taylor’s blog

What a fun time I had watching how much support given to sponsor a “celebrity” walker!  The celebs got up and walked to the Alamo at 6:30 am, before the sun even came up! Judy Russell, Joshua Taylor, Kenyatta Berry and Ed Donakey competed to see who could earn the most donations for the walk. As of Saturday afternoon, the donations from the credit card portion of the campaign were as follows:
These numbers do not include all of the cash and checks supplied by generous conference attendees. Stay tuned to the Preserve the Pension site for more updates.

3. After Hours

After hours socializing is one of my favorite times during conferences. It is a time to relax, talk with friends that you only get to see once or twice each year, and make new connections. I enjoy the time I get to spend developing deeper friendships and learning about my awesome colleagues!

Had a great dinner with (clockwise) Jen Baldwin, Rorey Cathcart, Barry Kline and Deena Coutant.
Had a great dinner with (clockwise) Jen Baldwin, Rorey Cathcart, Barry Kline and Deena Coutant.

Until next time, friends!

4. The Lectures

Of course all of the lectures I attended were outstanding. Since you can’t attend ALL of the lectures at a large national conference, I rely heavily on the conference recordings to pick up the sessions I wasn’t able to attend. Conference recordings are a great thing to keep in your car for long trips or for running errands. You can purchase conference recordings through Fleetwood Onsite Conference Recordings. My favorite in-person lectures were from J. Mark Lowe, Craig R. Scott, Rev. David McDonald, Elizabeth Shown Mills, Dr. Thomas Jones, and Judy G. Russell.

If you have never had a chance to attend a national conference, it is something you should do at least once. But like potato chips, once you have one you just can’t stop! I’ll see you at the next one!

My FGS Conference Plans

View of the downtown Fort Wayne skyline, looki...I recently decided to attend the FGS (Federation of Genealogical Societies) annual conference this year which is being held in Fort Wayne, Indiana, home of the Allen County Public Library, August 21-24, 2013. When I made my genealogy plans for the year, I hadn’t included FGS. I just had so many trips I wanted to take and I had to limit myself. However, several things lined up that allowed me to go. First of all, I have a travel companion that will help cut down expenses (you know who you are). Second, I have never been to the Allen County Public Library. Third, I really have a hard time resisting the chance to listen to wonderful speakers such as D. Joshua Taylor, John Colletta, Elizabeth Shown Mills, Tom Jones, Mark Lowe, Curt Witcher, George Morgan, and that’s just the beginning; there are dozens of great speakers on the schedule. Forth, did I mention the Allen County Public Library?

In addition to attending lectures that are sure to increase my knowledge and skills, I am planning on doing a bit of research at the Allen County Public Library. From their 16-minute Orientation Video I learned that the Genealogy Center in the ACPL has over 340,000 printed volumes including published family histories, county histories, directories and local records from across the United States and Canada as well as holdings for the British Isles, Ireland and Western Europe. Also, they have over 550,000 pieces of microfilm and microfiche. This video also walks you through each of their five genealogy rooms. ACPL is also the creator of PERSI (the Periodical Source Index) which indexes surnames and topics from periodicals.

I had some collateral ancestors in one of my brick walls that lived in Allen County. Carrill Long married Harry Rudd in Michigan. She was born in Missouri abt. 1892 and died in Fort Wayne, 12 July 1967. She is buried in Wood County, where the rest of her family lived. However, I don’t know a thing about her husband, Harry. I will be looking into Harry Rudd and why they moved to Fort Wayne. The couple are not buried together, she died before he did and I speculate that he remarried and is buried with his second wife. But I need to find the proof!

I am also very interested in learning about what other great treasures can be found at ACPL. Much of my ancestry is based in Wood County, Ohio, which is in the northwestern part of the state. Being that close to Allen County, I hope I might find other resources I had not discovered before. Family histories, county histories, periodicals, maps, microfilms, and more!

With all of the time I will be spending at the conference and then at the library, with their extended hours for conference attendees, I wonder if I will get any sleep! But who needs sleep with all of the great genealogy happening?

FGS Conference 2013 – Fort Wayne, Indiana

fgs-conf-logo-2013The Federation of Genealogical Societies is hosting their 2013 Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana, August 21-24. You’re invited to attend and see what you think of the updates to genealogy. The theme for this year is “Journey Through Generations” and will have several tracks, one of which is a focus on Midwestern research which I am particularly interested in. I wanted to pass along some really great information about the conference. I have been highly impressed by the amount of online information that FGS has been giving to genealogists. Their conference blog is constantly full of new information about the plans for the conference, tips on planning research days around the conference, lists of repositories in the area, and lots more.

I am very excited by the various tracks being offered:

  • Records
  • Methodologies
  • Military
  • Transportation
  • Online resources
  • Genetics
  • Midwest and neighboring states, including repositories and religious communities
  • Federal records
  • Technology
  • Migration and immigration
  • Writing, speaking, and publishing
  • Ethnic origins and records, including European, German, African American, and British Isles

Check the program on the conference web site for specific presentations.

The exhibit hall, plus evening social programs Wednesday and Friday, round out a full genealogical experience for the next-to-last week of August. And next door to the Grand Wayne Center, the world-famous Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center will be offering extended research hours early and late during the conference. Since I have never visited this library I am excited to be able to at least take a look and learn firsthand what is available and possibly plan a research trip in the future.

Learn More about FGS 2013 and Stay Connected
Visit the conference website at http://www.fgsconference.org
Find the latest news on the conference blog at http://www.fgsconferenceblog.com
Like the conference on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/FGSconference
Follow the conference on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/FGSconference and hashtag #FGS2013