At our last meeting we discuss how things went at the fair. Some people thought our booth lacked something to draw attention to our table. Some years we had something like footprints on the floor to draw people over and that worked well. I have been thinking what we could do to get not only the attention of people but also interested in genealogy. For several years I have study the people who walk by our booth and have put them into three categories. One is the teenagers and young adults who are not interested in genealogy. Two are the people who are middle age who may be interested but are too busy with their family. Third are the seniors who feel that they are too old to start. Most of the people who walk by are not interested in genealogy but I do believe we could get more individuals interested if we show them how it is done.
First we should have a large color poster to get their attention, this poster should list some basic steps to get started. Second we should have handouts going into more detail listing all the steps in getting started on their family tree. We need to educate people not only on how to get started but what they may learn. Some of the things we should tell them are that they can’t go on line and do it in a day or two; that it will take a long time. Also they can look on line to see if someone has done some of the work already. Many of us build out family tree with the help we get from others. Sharing is a big part of genealogy.
I think many who start on their genealogy become frustrated and quit after a short time because they don’t know what they are doing. The more they know at the start will keep them going and as they make progress this will encourage them to keep at it. I just finished the family tree of a friend who is 82 years old who did not know anything about his family back before his grandfather. He was amazed at all the information I found going back to 1620; he now has thirteen generations of his family history. I told him that he should write the story of his childhood to pass on to his grandchildren. I will be working with him to write about his wife childhood too and I will encourage his children to write about their childhood. My hope is that as this family looks at this book it will encourage them to get involved in their family history.
How often have we heard someone say “Who cares about genealogy, what does it means to me?” or after a funeral someone will say “I wish I took the time to ask them some questions but now it is too late.” As I told my friend, one day he will be gone and if he wants to do something special for his love ones, now is the time to write about his childhood and they will be happy that he did. So when people say “Why should I do a family tree?” that is why. We need to tell people that every family has a story to tell and they should pass it on to the next generation.
Respectfully submitted, Orlan Smith
Vice President’s Message, September 2013 by Heather Feuerhelm is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at ac-gs.org.