Tag: Youth

Young Genealogists and Your Society

How can you engage the next generation of genealogists in your society?

Young Genealogists and Your Society (3)

7 Strategies for Success

1. Be respectful. Never assume that young genealogists are inexperienced; while they might be new to the field, it’s also entirely possible that they are not. Always treat your fellow genealogists as the peers they are, regardless of age. Not sure how to strike up a conversation with a young genealogist? Ask about his or her favorite area of research!

2. Be welcoming. Many people may find it daunting to go to a society meeting or event for the first time. Take a positive first impression to the next level by assigning a designated greeter to welcome visitors at the door, make them feel at home, and answer any questions. Without this effort, a young genealogist in particular might feel out of place or even unwanted among a group of individuals who have known each other for years. Hosting a NextGen Genealogy Network Meetup is another excellent way to reach out to and welcome young genealogists.

3. Recognize their strengths. Give young genealogists a reason to invest their time and energy in your society. All members bring talent to the table, but at times, young genealogists may be overlooked. Offer them a chance to chair a committee, volunteer at a conference, design marketing materials, write a blog post, manage a social media account, or lead a presentation—or simply ask how they would like to be involved.

4. Reduce fees. More and more genealogical societies are welcoming young genealogists by offering membership discounts to students or young professionals. Does your society host conferences or workshops? This is another area where reduced fees can increase attendance. If printing costs are holding you back, offer digital versions of your news materials to young genealogists and other members who choose to opt-in.

5. Mix up your meeting times. Whether young genealogists work, study, or have children at home, meetings held in the daytime during the week may be impossible to attend. Does your society routinely offer meetings and other events in the evenings or on weekends? Do your meetings and events have clear start and end times so that attendees can make childcare arrangements or otherwise as needed?

6. Put yourself out there. Your society won’t gain members if they don’t know it’s there. Keep your website, e-mail contact information, and social media accounts up-to-date, and if you’re not already online, know that there are many free platforms available. In addition, volunteer with local events to raise awareness of your society within your community. Has your society offered to lead genealogy classes or activities for local schools, guilds, churches, clubs, and youth organizations such as Scouts or 4-H?

7. Embrace long-distance members. Young genealogists may live far from the homes of their ancestors, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be involved in societies based in other cities, counties, states, or even countries. Offer live-streamed meetings or webinars, online databases of exclusive local records, local research assistance, and a dynamic social media presence to welcome active, tech-savvy members from around the world.

Download “Young Genealogists and Your Society” as a resource to share!


Melanie Frick, MLS, holds a Certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University and is Editor of the APG eNews and Content Coordinator for the NextGen Genealogy Network. A genealogist, writer, editor, antique photograph aficionado, and Midwestern transplant, Melanie lives in Southern California. She blogs at Homestead Genealogical Research.

 
Shannon Combs BennetShannon Combs-Bennett is a Genealogist with the National Society Colonial Dames XVII Century, Director of The In-Depth Genealogist, and Education Co-Coordinator for the NextGen Genealogy Network. An Indiana native based in Virginia, Shannon frequently writes and lectures on a variety of topics from genetics to methodology. She blogs at T2 Family History.

Education Hangout: Outdoor Genealogy

How can you move your genealogy research outdoors during the warm summer months? From visiting cemeteries and volunteering with FindAGrave or BillionGraves to visiting historic sites (perhaps with other local young genealogists!) or simply taking your laptop outside, Education Co-Coordinators Shannon Combs Bennett and Eric Wells share their ideas in their latest Education Hangout:

Don’t forget to bookmark our YouTube Channel and listen in for fantastic, friendly advice on a variety of topics relevant to the young genealogist!

Making the Most of a Family Reunion

Last summer, thanks to some last minute flight deals, I was fortunate to be able to attend my first official family reunion! Although my mom’s immediate family gathers together frequently, this was a reunion for everyone descended from my 2x great-grandparents, so there were lots of family members attending who I had never even met before. Plus, it was held at my great-grandparents’ homestead in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Here are a few (hopefully helpful!) tips for attending a reunion to help you prepare to visit with family this summer and learn from my mistakes and successes:

1. Double-check your existing genealogical research. Before I left for the reunion, I dedicated a few days to doing a thorough review of that particular family branch. I finished up some of the “boring” updates/edits I had been putting off like scanning, attaching files, and cleaning up any duplicated facts. I also finished up some neglected descendancy work which I found very helpful in situating how the people I was meeting at the reunion fit into my tree. Because I tend to jump back and forth between lines quite a bit as I research, it was nice to have the relevant family information fresh in my mind while I was at the reunion.

2. Take a camera or scanner. If your family is anything like mine, most people will bring at least a small envelope or album of pictures to share. This was an amazing opportunity for me to have access to a lot of different picture collections all at once. My family’s reunion was hosted on my great-grandfather’s homestead in Saskatchewan, so there were lots of landmarks (the barn, schoolhouse, and general store) and scenery pictures that I wanted to take as well. Sadly, because it was a last minute arrangement, I didn’t have time to order a mobile scanner so I had to rely on my camera, but that was still much better than nothing. And of course, whatever electronics you bring, make sure to always have extra batteries/charger!

3. Suggest a family history session. If there isn’t already a formal family history session scheduled, offer to organize one. At my family’s reunion we had about an hour set aside on the first day for a presentation about the general family history. This was a really good way to get people to start talking about family stories!

4. Make sure your research is accessible for sharing. Once people realize you are interested in genealogy, they will often want to see your more of research outside of a formally organized family history session, so make sure you have a few good stories or finds prepared to share with people. This is when having the Ancestry.com app on my phone was very useful, as the home that the reunion was held at did not have Internet access so I wasn’t able to show any of my online trees and research. In retrospect, I wish I had a desktop software downloaded beforehand as it was hard to really show details on photos or documents on just my little phone screen.

5. Listen to (and record) stories. At my family’s reunion, there were many people present from the older generations, so I found it incredibly fascinating to discuss the stories that added context and color to the lives of ancestors who I didn’t have the chance to meet. I also noticed that for more delicate family stories I sometimes inferred more by staying quiet and letting people talk as if I already knew what happened, than by asking direct questions about the topic. Don’t forget to record these stories in some way, even if it seems like an unforgettable tale at the time.

6. But don’t be afraid to speak up. Sometimes I find it intimidating being the youngest person interested in genealogy,especially when I’m in a room full of older family members who actually know some of the people being talked about. But sharing research and knowledge can help establish you as the person to come to with family history questions or to share artifacts, pictures, etc. Politely correct those wild family tales if you have found evidence to the contrary. For example, at my family’s reunion someone said that our relatives who fought in WWI were twin snipers who were killed on the last day of the war, when in fact they were just two brothers who served, one as a sniper, and were killed in 1917 and 1918. Speaking up in this instance not only prevented incorrect lore from being passed on, but also resulted in a number of people starting genealogy-related conversations with me over the course of the weekend.

7. Connect with living relatives. This is the main thing that I wish I had done better. When I got home from the reunion, I realized that somehow in all my excitement about the historical photos and family stories, I had only taken exactly ONE picture of any of the living relatives present! I really wish I had arranged a group photo and just in general documented the present better. Also make sure to share your contact information with all the new family members you are meeting. Keep in mind that a lot of the older people may not be on social media (or even have e-mail!), so be sure to get phone numbers or addresses as appropriate in case you want to follow up on something that was discussed once you get home.

Hopefully these tips will be useful and help you have an enjoyable reunion that builds on connections with living family while also being beneficial for deepening your genealogical research.


Chelsea Ruiter is a twenty-three year old genealogist who is passionate about uncovering the stories in her family history. Originally from Canada’s west coast, she now lives in Ottawa and is currently working towards a Masters degree in International Affairs. Her genealogy blog can be found at Time Wanderer

Education Hangout: Family Photo Editing

Learn all about digitally preserving and editing your old family photographs from Education Co-Coordinators Shannon Combs Bennett and Eric Wells in their latest Education Hangout:

Don’t forget to bookmark our YouTube Channel and listen in for fantastic, friendly advice on a variety of topics relevant to the young genealogist!