How a Genealogy Society Can Grow Membership

how to grow genealogy society membership with videoGenealogy is growing dramatically in popularity. Multiple television shows depict family history discoveries, and the use of DNA to help folks climb there family tree has become mainstream. If genealogy is so popular, why is genealogy society membership declining, and how can we slow hat trend?

Genealogy societies have traditionally been centered around genealogists coming together in person, sharing research success stories, and learning more about how to find the records and stories of elusive ancestors.

These days though it’s easy to get distracted by by online research and perceived short cuts. The newest generation of researchers started their search not in a library, but on a computer keyboard. The problem is that they often don’t know what they are missing when it comes to what genealogy societies have to offer.

One solution: show them the value with video!

Create Video Magic with Animoto

(Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Thank you for supporting the Genealogy Gems blog!)

One of my favorite video creation tools is Animoto because it helps you creates incredibly professional-looking videos in a shockingly short amount of time. And most importantly, Animoto requires no more technical skill than clicking, dragging, and dropping with a mouse.

Rather than seeing the Internet as the enemy of your society, embrace it and put it to work for it. Online video is terrific tool for:

  • Creating awareness
  • Promoting events
  • Building your membership
  • Providing genealogical educational information
  • Sharing events with those who are unable to attend in person

just to name a few ideas.

See It for Yourself

Last year I had the pleasure of presenting a full day genealogy seminar in Fresno, California. Turning photos of the day into a video that could be used to build membership was a breeze With Animoto. I selected a design, uploaded my images and added text to help make the case. Here’s an example of a video I created for the Fresno Genealogical Society.

Getting the Word Out

A video like this can spread the word and reach prospective members in a variety of ways. Here are just a few ideas for how a genealogy society can grow membership using video to achieve their engagement goals:

  • Download the video from the Animoto website and show it at your next meeting so visitors can envision reasons to return
  • Embed the video your society’s website (just copy the code from Animoto and paste it on your webpage and the video will appear in a convenient video player)
  • Share the video on social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram to not only get views, but provide a super simple way for supporters to share it which will get your society more exposure.

Keys to Video Success

key to successJust a bit of planning can deliver great results. Here are my recommendations for how a genealogy society can grow membership and achieve promotional video success:

  • Keep it short – it took just 1 and 1/2 minutes to convey the answers to the who, what, where, and why questions folks may ask when considering a genealogy society in the Fresno area
  • Let images do most of the talking – there’s no need for being verbose if you have energetic imagery that convey your ideas.
  • Highlight the benefits – the big question potential members have is “why should I bother joining a genealogy society? Make sure you answer that question in your video
  • Tell them at the beginning and end how to find you – repeating your website address and keeping it on the screen long enough to jot it down gives them what they need to contact you. And after all, that is the goal of your video.

How to Create Your Genealogy Society Video

We have lots of how-to video creation resources for you here at Genealogy Gems. Click here to find step-by-step instructions for creating videos on Animoto, and to see more examples of the role that video can play in your family history.

More Resources Reveal How a Genealogy Society Can Grow MembershipGenealogy Gems for societies around table

READ: Need a Genealogy Speaker? Here’s the Affordable Solution

 

 

 

File Search Trick, and Prepping for an Archive Visit

Podcast Listener Joan wrote me recently:  “I get to spend a day at the National Archives. What should I do to prepare to take full advantage of the visit? I checked their website, but it was not as helpful as I hoped. Any suggestions?”

While this first resource is from the National Archives in the UK, it’s applicable to archives in other countries as well.  Check out their video series called Quick Animated Guide.

Another good approach is to search for presentations on archive visits using Google.  By conducting a ‘file type search’ in Google you can uncover presentations posted on the Web that are geared to doing research at the National Archives.

I conducted the following search in Google: .ppt national archives research and came up with a Powerpoint presentation called Beginning Your Genealogical Research at the National Archives which comes from the US National Archives website. When you click the link above you’ll be prompted to RUN the presentation, and I found that it detected Powerpoint on my computer and opened the presentation in my Powerpoint program.

This little genealogy search gem can come in quite handy. Sometimes you know exactly what kind of file or document you are looking for online. By searching for the keywords of the subject and then adding .ppt (the file extension for Powerpoint presentations) Google will pull up only Powerpoint presentations that include those keywords.

You may not be able to get out to genealogy conferences very often, but some creative searching may bring up presentations that cover topics that interest you right from your home computer. That’s a little gem you need to add to your search toolbox for sure!  For more search gems check out my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox. 
 
The Genealogist's Google Toolbox Third edition Lisa Louise Cooke

Available in the Genealogy Gems Store

 
And finally, when it comes to preparing for and making a trip to an archive or library Margery Bell of the Family History Centers offered some great ideas for preparing for a research trip, regardless of whether it is to the National Archives or the Family History Library. The interviews are episode 17, 18 & 19 in the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast.

Great question Joan and have a wonderful time! Happy hunting everyone!

Find Family History with Online Newspaper Research: More Chronicling America

Have you already searched for your relatives’ names at Chronicling America, the the Library of Congress’ web collection of digitized American newspapers? Well, search again!

Recently the the Library of Congress added more than 600,000 historic newspaper pages to its enormous collection. According to a press release, these pages include “first-time contributions from Iowa, Michigan, and West Virginia. Other new additions include content from Hawaii, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.” The site now has over 6.6 million searchable newspaper pages from over 1100 newspaper titles, published in 30 states and Washington, D.C. between 1836 and 1922.

Newspaper Book CoverWhat are the chances your family will appear on one of those pages? Pretty good, actually. Here’s a list of the kinds of articles they may show up in from my book How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers:

  • Advertising: classifieds, companies your ancestor worked for or owned, grocery or dry goods stores ads (for historical context), runaway slaves search and reward, ship departures.
  • Births & deaths: birth announcements, card of thanks printed by the family, obituary and death notices, “Community Pioneer” article upon passing,  funeral notice, reporting of the event that lead to the death, or the funeral.
  • Legal notices and public announcements: auctions, bankruptcies, city council meetings, divorce filings, estate sales, executions and punishments, lawsuits, marriage licenses, probate notices tax seizures, sheriff’s sale lists.
  • Lists: disaster victims, hotel registrations, juror’s and judicial reporting, letters left in the post office, military lists, newly naturalized citizens, passenger lists (immigrants and travelers), unclaimed mail notices.
  • News articles: accidents, fires, etc. featuring your ancestor; front page (for the big picture); industry news (related to occupations); natural disasters in the area; shipping news; social history articles.
  • Community and social events like school graduations, honor rolls, sporting and theater events; social news like anniversaries, church events, clubs, engagements, family reunions, visiting relatives, parties, travel, gossip columns, illnesses, weddings and marriage announcements.

Learn more about researching family history with my book, available in both print and e-book format. And don’t forget to keep checking Chronicling America for stories and clues about your ancestors’ lives.

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