Pictures from the Family History Kid’s Camp

July 14, 2009

Check out the pictures from the SCGS Jamboree in Burbank. We filled two rooms to capacity during the Family History Kid’s Camp on Friday morning.


Genealogy Societies Need to Look Toward the Future (Follow-up Post)

July 11, 2009

By Elyse Doerflinger

When I wrote my last post, I was not expecting the outpouring of comments that I received. I never thought it possible that so many people would not only read my blog, but comment. Oh – and these were not the typical “great post” comments that I generally get – these were honest outpourings of people who have shared my experience. At most, I get about 5 comments on a post. As I am writing this, the post has gotten 23 comments. W-O-W!!! I was never expecting anything like this and all of your comments have really warmed my heart.

So what I wanted to do was write a follow-up post and expand on the possibilities that using technology offers. I also want to address many of the people who left me comments to answer their more specific questions and/or suggestions.

Getting A Blog

This is a great way to keep members informed with just about anything – from news that occurs in between meetings, members’ accomplishments, general genealogical news, marketing upcoming events, for discussing new websites, or keeping members that don’t live in the area current with the happens of the society. Want to know the best part? Blogs are free and super easy to set up. Geneabloggers has a great set of articles that perfect for a newbie getting ready to start a blog. Blogs are easier to create and update than a website – but you can still put news, photos, videos, calendars and a lot more! The possibilities on this one are too great to pass up.

Creating An Email Newsletter

This is not only a great idea to help save trees, but it also saves on printing and postage costs. Savings in printing and postage costs (hopefully) means a drop in the needed money for membership fees or an opportunity to use that money elsewhere. These days, it is not that difficult to create a newsletter. All you need is a word processor (I use because it is free and it can export to .pdf format), some volunteer writers, and an email address. You can create free email addresses at a ton of places, but I highly recommend using Gmail because it is easy to use but also stock full of great features.

Creating A Student Membership Fee

Ok…this one really isn’t technology related, but it is still hugely important. Many young genealogists are either in school or moving out for the first time. When it comes to money, things are very tight (the stereotype of students eating rice-a-roni and mac n cheese all the time is there for a reason!). If it comes down to joining a genealogical society or buying a membership to – what do you think they are going to choose? So, appeal to the younger generation and give them yet another incentive for joining.


This is not only a great idea for young genealogists, but for everyone on a tight income. Have the society raise money to offer one potential member with financial difficulties the opportunity to join through a scholarship program. Consider having potential recipients write an essay or commit to a certain number of volunteer hours in exchange for a free membership.

Twitter and/or Facebook

Twitter is a social networking site that allows a person to write in 140 characters or less what they want. While some people think it is pointless, it can be very useful. For example, someone from the meeting could use Twitter to tweet live updates of a lecture or meeting (especially useful for those societies that are regional or serve a vast majority of people). Just ask Randy Seaver about when he tweeted live from the Bloggers Summit at the Jamboree. He got such positive feedback and it made many of the people who were not able to attend feel right at home.

Facebook is a HUGE genealogical resource these days. I am friends with mostly genealogists, and there isn’t a single day that I don’t learn something from a friend of mine on that site. People use Facebook to connect via Fan pages or Groups. People promote their blogs and genealogy societies through Networked Blogs and their status. Everyone is so friendly and so willing to help in anyway that they can! I’ve gotten help on brick walls and given research suggestions. Not only has my electronic social life improved, but so has my research! Through Facebook, I have gotten to feel like I really know all of these genealogists that I talk to online or read their blogs. By the time I finally meet these people face-to-face, I feel as if I’ve known them forever!

Facebook is what gave me the courage to go to the Jamboree this year. Since I had been interacting with many of these people on facebook or other websites, I felt totally at ease when I finally met them in person. There was no awkward getting to know each other phase and the only natural thing to do when seeing this people for the first time was to give them a huge hug! Honestly, using Facebook (or similar tools) will help ease any nervousness or uneasiness that could prevent a potential new member from joining. Many of the people who left comments on my last post only echoed what I had been feeling.

Here is a comment that Jessica made:
Your post couldn’t echo my thoughts more. I’ve been thinking about joining a local genealogy society for awhile now, but I’m 25, and I look younger, and I know I’d look like somebody’s granddaughter who just tagged along for the ride.I’m a pretty new genealogist too, and I don’t like the idea that I’d stick out and have little to contribute. If the local society had some sort of blog or Facebook group where I could test the waters, I might have jumped in awhile ago.

Here is a comment that Tina made:
I totally agree with you about looking out of place at genealogy society meetings and events. I am 27 and started my family history last year. Whenever I attend an event, I feel so out of place until I get to know everyone there.

Here is a comment that Jennifer made that I think needs to be read by everyone who is on a board (or has any high position) in a genealogical society:
I’m glad I’m not the only one who has been “afraid” to go to a traditional genealogical society meeting for fear of being mistaken for someone’s grandchild. I am 28, and the only time I’ve ever met others my age, or younger, interested in genealogy is in the geneablogging community. I also think the geneablogging community has given me more confidence in my research skills, so I now feel like I might actually be able to attend a meeting without feeling as inadequate as before. It’s just a matter of finding the time. One of the societies I tried to join did not even have a website, nor any info online about how to join. Just a quick blurb on the local library site about when the meetings were, which was not helpful since I live 1300 miles away.

See – young genealogists really do exist!! I think so many of us are terrified about getting out there. I for one have always felt a lack of confidence in my research skills and have always been terrified that others would look down on me for it. But it isn’t just the genealogical societies that need to get out there: the younger generation also needs to make an effort.

So….to all you young genealogists:

  • Take a deep breath and just take the plunge!
  • Remember: You have a lot to offer even if you aren’t a professional genealogist. Whether it be a specialty in a certain aspect of research, knowledge of the Internet, or even just a great cookie recipe – everyone has something to bring to the table.
  • For the most part, genealogists are some of nicest people you’ll ever meet.
  • Even if many members confuse you as a grandchild of another member, you still have something in common with all of these genealogists: A passion for climbing your family tree.

So everyone….it is time to get together and start implementing these suggestions! It is going to take the work of all genealogists, young and old alike, to make our genealogical societies better. Genealogical societies need to be cherished as a valued resource and the classic way to connect with other researchers. The Internet is a great resource, but it is only one piece of the puzzle.

New Newsletter!

July 8, 2009

Check out our new newsletter for this summer. Click on this link: Summer 2009

Genealogy Societies Need to Look Towards the Future

July 7, 2009

By Elyse Doerflinger

Disclaimer: This post is full of my very own opinions. These opinions are not meant to offend anyone. You may agree or disagree with my opinions – and you are free to share your reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with me. However, please do not leave me hate mail full of insults. Now then, onto my post:

There is a lot of talk in the geneablogger community (the genealogy world in general) about the slowing down of memberships in traditional genealogy societies. While many of the bigger societies will survive, many of the smaller local societies will probably not.

Think about what your average genealogist looks like: retired. People do not live forever (or stay in good health forever) and therefore, if societies truly want to survive, they must find ways to reach the next generation. Without reaching for the next generation, then all of their research, all of their hard work, and many of these societies are going to disappear.

However, many of these societies do not embrace the future. By the “future”, I mean technology and forward thinking. Many of these societies do not have websites (or at least ones that are updates often). Many of these societies are not on Facebook, Twitter, Second Life, or any of the other various social networking websites. These societies are not embracing the resources that are at their fingertips – many of these resources are free!

I guess this all easy for me to say: I’m 19. I’m unique in the genealogy world. And I’m not part of a traditional genealogy society.

I am a part of the Youth Genealogists Association. It is an entirely online association for genealogists age 5-21. Having everything online for this age group is perfect because afterall, it is the computer generation.

The main reason I have never joined a traditional genealogy society is because I was terrified I wouldn’t fit in. I am a shy person when it comes to meeting new people. I am so much younger than everyone else and I figured that I was too inexperienced of a researcher to have anything in common with anyone.

But in the last year, my confidence has changed so much. I’ve joined Facebook, began talking to other genealogists, started this blog, and even went to my first genealogy conference. I finally feel like I know other genealogists and I’ve realized how muvh in common I have with other researchers. I love sharing research techniques and stories of success. In the last year I realized that I am ready to face my fear and join a regular genealogy society (now, if I could only get some spare money to pay for the membership fees).

The bottom line is that it is time for genealogists to accept that technology is here. Instead of fighting it, we should embrace it. While it will not provide you with every record, it is a valuable tool that cannot be ignored. It is time for genealogy societies to get on the bandwagon:

  • Create a website that is updates OFTEN. Include useful information such as articles, member bios, etc.
  • Get the word out about your meetings and announcements using Twitter and Facebook.
  • Create a blog!

The above are merely suggestions and starting points. The possibilities are unlimited!

Edit (July 8, 2009): I currently want to join several genealogy societies, including the Southern California Genealogy Society and a couple of others. It took me a while to learn to deal with my own insecurity issues. However, now that those issues are gone, I am trying to save money to be able to join these societies. My family is just really struggling with money right now, so it could be a while. Good news though: My birthday is next month and I have a long genealogy wish list of gifts.

Family History Kid’s Camp 2009

June 29, 2009

On Friday, June 26th at 9:00 a.m. at the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree in Burbank, CA, we helped SCGS put on an event in which we were also involved with last year. Starr Campbell unfortunately was too sick to attend from Utah, so our President, Hailey Campbell was unable to attend as well.

Elyse Doerflinger, Michael Goumas, and Michael Melendez attended and the program included a presentation by Michael Melendez and genealogy games overseen by Elyse. Michael Goumas was able to complete his Genealogy Merit Badge along with 65 other Boy Scouts. The crowd included other kids as well, bringing our total youth attendance above 80. We would like to thank our special guest speakers Maureen Taylor and Jean Wilcox Hibben. The kids especially enjoyed the musical presentation by Jean at the end. We look forward to more events like this and hope to see you there next year.

For more information check out our article in our Summer newsletter.

SCGS Jamboree – A Weekend of Fun!

June 27, 2009

By Elyse Doerflinger

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to go to the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree of 2009. The Jamboree was held in Burbank, California at the Marriot Hotel.

I arrived to the hotel at about 8:15 on Friday morning. I had volunteered to help with the Kids Camp, which was being put on by Michael Melendez (finally – someone who attended the conference who was younger than me!). The first person I met (who was also volunteering for Kids Camp) was Diane Wright (a Graveyard Rabbit!). Diane is such a sweet person and it was great hanging out with her during Kids Camp. After Kids Camp, the two of us went to go get some lunch at Del Taco, which was just across the street.

After kids camp I went wondering over to the hotel lobby, a bit nervous and unsure as to what I should do. I had some time to waste before my first lecture and I was a bit anxious to start meeting people but, I’ll be honest, I was a bit terrified at first. This was my very first genealogy conference and I had never met any of these people in person before. It wasn’t long however, before I spotted some geneabloggers sitting in a small group of the hotel lobby. I was a bit scared at first, but I took some deep breaths and worked up the courage to walk up and introduce myself. Everyone was so welcoming, so kind, so funny – and within miliseconds, everyone was cracking jokes and discussing the plans for the weekend as if we had all known each other for years. Everyone was more amazing than I could have dreamed (and that is not an exaggeration!)

Before I show the picture of some of these wonderful people, I have to tell you about how I met footnoteMaven. I did not recognize her at first and I didn’t even realize it was her until I looked down at her badge. As soon as I saw who she was my eyes got big and I went “Oh, it is such an honor to meet you!” (I also believe a little squeal slipped out too). So footnoteMaven, I hope you tell your husband this story and he finally believes that you are someone special in the geneablogging community.

And here is the picture of some of the great geneabloggers that I met, including footnoteMaven (of course, with her face blocked!)

Top row from left to right: Susan Kitchens, Schelly Dardashti, and me.
Bottom row from left to right: Kathryn Doyle, Sheri, and footnoteMaven.

I spent the afternoon in some lectures:

  • Organize, Plan, and Share Your Family Tree with Legacy Family Tree by Geoffry Rasmussen
  • Writing Your Research Plan by Betty Lou Melesky, CG
That night I finally met Gini and her husband, Steve (Steve deserves the “Husband of the Year” award because he isn’t into genealogy, but he spent the entire weekend with Gini being the driver and attending the lectures). Both of them are so incredibly kind, caring, and sweet people.
Then Gini and her husband Steve, Randy Seaver and his wife Linda, and I all went out to dinner. We went to a Greek restaurant that had some pretty good food.
Then Gini and Steve drove me to my Aunt Caroline’s house, where I was staying for the weekened. I then stayed up until about 11:30 talking to my Aunt Caroline about the time I had. I had a great weekend and had a blast!

Family History Kids Camp

June 27, 2009

By Michael Melendez

I’m here at the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree! We had a very successful event today with 80 kids, about 65 boy scouts, in which almost all earned their genealogy merit badge. We filled up two large rooms with kids and parents. Thank you to all the volunteers and our guest speakers, Maureen Taylor and Jean Hibben. Now we can’t wait for next year!