I wrote a few weeks ago about a very small gathering in a county not far from here where they claimed to be holding a "Genealogy Fair". I didn't expect it to be a large gathering, and it was just as I imagined - a small affair with local-only interests for the most part.
Not having my family from this specific area of the state, there was little to hold my interest but as we all know, it's the coming together of genealogists that lures us to these gatherings. Someone, ANYONE with a common interest is fun to talk and share with. After visiting with half a dozen people for about an hour, I left feeling good, it was nice to chat with others who share our hobby.
Because there isn't a Genealogical Society, Club or otherwise in my area, I decided to contact our local Historical Society to see if there was any interest - they put me in touch with someone who writes a genealogy column for their newsletter. She and I talked via email a few times and quickly determined with my schedule and her commitments to other things, neither of us were up for the task of trying to pull something together right now. We both had a lot of ideas, Lots and Lots of ideas - but we also realized that neither of us really had an understanding of what these groups do. What goes on at their meetings? Do they usually have someone who, for lack of a better term, "runs the show" or do they just get together much like a book club and discuss their research and help each other with specific areas/problems that they're knowledgable with? I think this type of gathering would quickly lose focus - or would it? I imagine beginners who would need much guidance and there would be the seasoned genealogists who would probably quickly tire of helping out the newbies all the time and then there are the "old school" genealogists who would never think to do any kind of research on the Internet (yes, I met one of these at the little fair). I've never been to this type of gathering - so what do you do at a meeting with such a varying level of understanding and a melting pot of people who all have the same interests? ... I have no earthly idea.
I then thought about others in the area who may be interested and I had to find out a way to reach out to them. GenealogyWise was a place to start. I searched the members for all the towns nearby and friended a few of them. One gentleman said that yes he'd be interested in something like this but we ran into the same problem - lots of ideas and no clue where to begin. There were about 12 other users in our local area registered on GenealogyWise - easy enough to contact them all, but then what?
So, there's still no club or society in my county but at least I know there is just a bit of interest out there. I envision a coming together of friends with common interests, sharing knowledge, helping others and I'm a firm believer that a club or society should also give back to our home county - transcribing records, documenting cemeteries or the like - whatever we can come up with that would help researchers who are no longer local.
Please, all you society or club members out there who belong to the smallish type of groups - share a typical meeting agenda with me. Anyone join a society as it was just starting up? Anyone help with the actual starting of one? How did it evolve over time? What were the first meetings like?
3 hours ago