Sunday, June 28, 2015

Oil was put on the rusty threads, but the old bolts would not turn! (AKA, The Drawn Out Death of a Genealogy Society)

Oil was put on the threads, but the old bolts would not turn.

 My thoughts, theories, and facts about a failing genealogy society.

 This pertains mostly to one society but could easily apply to others who are not vigilant with the future of their own societies. Two well written and recent articles can be read here as to the life and death of Genealogical Societies. There are certainly some out there that need to take a lesson from both Susan Petersen and Ruby Coleman. Many of the points-of-fact made in these two fine articles IS what is killing many societies, and sadly my own state society is on that list. The 'good ol' boys' club makes for a slow and painful death! Change is never easy but in this either change and progress or get left behind. I encourage everyone interested in their own Genealogical Society to read the articles written by Susan and Ruby.

 A few problems and gripes from my own personal perspective about my State Genealogical Society.

 1. There is so much more today for the average genealogist to pick from to help them learn and do quality research, why would anyone waste time with a society who does not want to give much back to them as a member? I volunteer some of my time to a few good sites by helping to index or digitize records. Those sites also give back to me. I also have two local county museum/research centers that benefit me and to whom I help as much as possible. I want my membership to my genealogy society to be a two way street. My state society can't even get caught up on the publications that have been in arrears for months and months, digitizing records for the website is nearly stagnant...there have been no new publications or direct email contacts since the April 2015 Conference. Just a day ago, I got a membership card in the mail which was actually paid in April. Things had begun to progress the last half of 2014 and first part of 2015, now everything appears to be backsliding again.

 2. A Facebook page is all that seems to be quite active but has little of consequence on it pertaining to the actual Society itself. It is very little Society news and mostly turned into an inquiry/message board type site. I would love to see some division of the two; news and inquiry. This idea was offered once before and poo-pooed but I still like the idea. Maybe I want to spend time on inquires that day and maybe I only want to  quickly check society news (always hoping there will be something uplifting and new) and don’t have time for reading lengthy posts. Other FB sites create separate ‘pages’, why can’t this society do the same?

3. From personal experience my state society has neglected to make use of my offer of free digitizing of records that should be on their regular website (after I offered at least 3 times to help digitize records and got no response from 2008-2013, I quit offering). Those surname family records are still in limbo. Granted I am in the far end of the state, away from most society activity, but I drive and so do most of the society members. I was willing to pick up items too and voiced that to two different past Presidents. Their last State Conference of 2015 brought more requests for help with articles and why didn't anyone contact me OR OTHERS who offered in prior years? This year I was directly asked to help with possible area Rep work, the one time that I could NOT agree to do it because of my husband's illness in 2014-15 and his need for constant care. I did do some graphic design work and printing this last year in the way of certificates and a few other items for the society. I was asked by the then President to help and I did that gladly because it was something I could do from home. I got no pay, nor expected any. I put together a small vendor table group to help bring some variety to the last conference and made several prize donations as they had been sorely lacking in vendors for the several previous yearly Conferences. The only thank you for coming and setting up that I got was from the then President and one other and now past officer/member of the society.

4. How does a State Society elect a new President who makes every effort to bring about change and progress...and then cause so much trouble for her that it led to her resigning after a year of service? (I should add that after having to virtually try to drag them forward because the 'good 'ol boys' resented her straight forward leadership and progressive ideas.) Leadership is truly a quality that few really possess and Presidents of any entity ARE supposed to lead. Most good leaders, including the one who resigned, have years of experience doing just that...LEADING. She has more than 50 years experience, is a well known professional researcher, and had 13 years experience as the head of a 501-C foundation and has written several genealogical publications/books over 40 years. Taking initiative, being out-spoken about problems and solutions, and rallying the other workers/members are known good qualities for leadership. Trailing from behind or being led by a nose ring won't benefit any officer or his/her company/society, particularly one elected to a Presidents job. In the retail or business world, the stagnant and non-progressive type would not even be considered to be President of an organization.

5. Another observation looking in from the outside; personality conflicts have no place within the leadership of any group/society...nor does extreme nasty badgering and bullying. As a close relative of the past President, I admittedly had some special insight into the back-stabbing and obviously malicious attempts toward subverting the Presidential leadership of this lady. The nasty and malicious emails that she received  often from two of the “good 'ol boys” for a nearly a year were abhorrent. They should absolutely be ashamed at treating anyone that way. That alone has caused my husband and I to have second thoughts about continuing both our memberships in this society,  that yet to be determined. Had it been my choice, all those emails would have been made public and shared with every member of the society. I still think they should be. (The President chose to keep those mostly private, a decision that I absolutely disagreed with.) As President during all that time, she was moving the society forward and trying to protect the Society's assets both real and intellectual.

6.  Years of complacency have taken a toll in many areas, including adherence to policy and by-laws, seriously declining membership, poor conference management and programming, the same few people just rotating titles for years, a stagnant to non-existent website and more. This last year, a disgruntled officer (who had held his office for years) officially resigned and it was accepted by the board. An interim replacement volunteer was found to act until elections and when the first officer found out, he just changed his mind to keep the job …he followed no by-law rules and did not wait until election to officially run again. The ensconced old officers in this society do not want change. It is run like a small club not a non-profit society and one which is chartered/sanctioned by NGS by-laws. No society can be a one or two man/woman operation as it requires good leadership and members who are proud to belong and volunteer. Change was beginning to be in order in my society but I feel it will now likely remain stagnant or slip back into regression just as it has been for several change, no improvement, no accountability, and nothing to bring in new ideas and very few new people.

7. As for the money. Why such a complaint about spending a little extra of a good sized savings to help promote a good conference? Maybe I am the only one but a few nice rolls/cookies instead of granola bars was a nice thing!  The meals were wonderful too and I am betting the society still has plenty of monetary reserves to move forward on. As a former business owner for 35 years, sometimes you have to spend a little extra to gain a lot in the end! Going to a conference to hear a great speaker,  experiencing a very good offering of presentations and meeting with friends is always great fun. I like to hear a renowned speaker when I attend a conference. My dues should help pay for a tiny part of these expenses. I can learn nearly all the same things right from home now so why should I drive all the way from western Nebraska to the east of the state for 8 hours one way if there is not something special to bring me? Megan, Laura, and George were wonderful, what happened with the 2014 conference? Were you saving money for something special, perhaps a rainy day... or for a society burial fund?

 In conclusion:

I have sat silent on this matter for some time, particularly because I have a direct family relationship to the past President of the Society** that I am particularly referring to. I did not feel that many would heed my comments because of that fact. I have thought about and stewed many nights over this for some time now and I can no longer sit in silence. I watched as certain people carried on a vicious campaign against this lady; mostly because she was assertive and pushed for change, advocated for policy adherence and progress but also because they fostered personal animosity towards her and felt a great loss of former power under her guidance. Her guidance and leadership seemed to intimidate them. Even considering a personal connection to the aforementioned President, I truly feel the outcome would have been the same for anyone who might have threatened the Status-Quo of this organization. In the 15 or so years after my retirement that I have been deeply involved in genealogy, I have joined several genealogy societies both small and large, not a one has failed to be inspirational and helpful in some way except what has been my own state Society. That makes me sad. A few young, climbers who have joined the remaining 'good 'ol boys' will not keep my own society afloat unless they too see that progress and a strong leader into the 21st Century is needed. If they too, fall prey to the statement of “that is always how we have done it” that will be an even quicker way to the society graveyard. Age and youth must work together.  Just because you are younger and thinking you are smarter, just shaping to the old society leadership and ideas WILL NOT move the society in the right direction. All genealogy societies need both new blood and the old and experienced members. The so called ‘rookies’ as well as the ‘ensconced relics’ should all have a place, but both should realize that change should occur. The ‘rookies’ are the sustaining life of a surviving society! Old and new can complement one another when they choose to work together for betterment of the society. Knowledge is certainly not limited to one age group! Sadly, because of what I personally believe to have been inspired by a lot of early on jealousy and animus by some of the leadership, my society has recently lost a good President and the backing/membership of several of the seasoned members.With a life to live and more to do than put up with intimidation and down right nasty people, her family wondered why anyone should enjoy serving the ungrateful 'beast'. She is certainly not a quitter, far from it, but after a with encouragement from her family and close friends, me included, she made the ultimate personal decision to resign as President after only one short year.  Contrary to what some have put forward, members for decades don't leave because their President is aggressively leading but instead because there is nothing for them to stay for. 

I believe that The Nebraska State Genealogical Society leadership has to make some serious and progressive changes if they want the Society to survive. Clean house and start over if necessary. Adhere to rules and by-laws.  Try to foster and hold the membership. Actively engage and then show appreciation to volunteers. Take special care of the physical collections and ensure their safety and society ownership for generations to come. Work for the betterment of and be accountable to the membership. The times are changing, accept that... and make the needed changes. This is going to be a tall order in my humble opinion, as I see this society sliding into oblivion as have many others the last few years!

Cheri Hopkins
YouGoGirl #2

**Ruby Coleman, past President of the Nebraska Genealogical Society is my sister-in-law

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas -- from the Two Girls

We have not posted since early summer.  It's been a whirlwind year for both of us.  I have done a lot of traveling, mostly lecturing at conferences, the last being November 11th.  What a great feeling to put the luggage away!

There have been changes in our lives this year.  Some were little and some were big.  We have learned to accept life as it is dealt to us.  You Go Genealogy Girl #2 has had family health issues that have kept her busy.  I try to keep her spirits up and at the same time inform her about genealogy news and happenings.

Things are looking better for both of us.  We may be able to "sneak" in a trip together in 2015.  Of course that trip would involve genealogical research.  It might be a short trip, or a long trip.  We are not putting anything on the calendar yet.

We both wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

You Go Genealogy Girl #1 -- Ruby
You Go Genealogy Girl #2 -- Cheri

Monday, June 23, 2014

Busy in June

The You Go Genealogy Girls are busy like everybody else.  You Go Genealogy Girl #2 is visiting a cousin in south central Nebraska.  I am trying to get everything ready for another excursion.

Heading Lil' Red to Wyoming on Thursday morning.  I will be speaking at the Family History Expo in Casper, Wyoming on June 27th and 28th.  It will be held at the Parkway Plaza Hotel and Convention Centre at 123 West E in Casper.  Since I am notorious for getting lost, I hope I can find it!

If you would like to attend a first class, two day conference pertaining to genealogy, this is your opportunity.  You can register online and view a schedule of events at the the Casper Expo web site.  There will be classes about Scandinavian and German records, how to use Flip Pal, organization of your genealogy, immigrants, naturalizations and much, much more.

Ruby --- You Go Genealogy Girl #1

Monday, June 2, 2014

Back Home and Going Again

The You Go Genealogy Girls had a fantastic time together for about 12 days in May.  We traveled to South Dakota, visited four cemeteries and talked about how some of those old grave stones mark people of early South Dakota history.  We were at the Family History Expo in Rapid City where YGGG #1 presented some classes.
Hill City, Pennington Co., SD Cemetery

Not to forget the family at home, we traveled back to Alliance, NE for a graduation celebration and family get togethers for my great nephew, Derick Coleman, who graduated from Alliance High School.  Some of the family were missed because of deaths or because they couldn't get off work to come.  We talked and thought about them a lot.

YGGG #2 will be vacationing soon.  Hope she finds some interesting cemeteries while she travels.  She always finds time to read books and relax.

I will be presenting one lecture about Nebraska Homestead Records Online at the Family History Expo's Retreat in Colby, Kansas, this Saturday.  While the complete files have been digitized and are online at Fold3, there is more that researchers can do to understand the Homestead Act and other records that are helpful in their research.

A few weeks home and I'll leave on June 26th for the Family History Expo in Casper, Wyoming.  It has been a few years since I have been in Casper ... probably should charge up the GPS.  But, then since it always leads me somewhere else ... maybe not.

Officially I am President of the Nebraska State Genealogical Society, which means I am knee-deep in work.  Fun work!  Anything about genealogy is fun.  My goal is to have an exciting annual conference in April 2015 in Grand Island, NE.  But we must work between now and then to get to that level.

Hope all of you have a great June.  Find plenty of genealogy goodies at home and away.

Ruby --- You Go Genealogy Girl #1

Saturday, May 10, 2014

On The Road Again

For the first time in over a year, the You Go Genealogy Girls are going to be traveling together.  This will be fun and interesting.  We have actually not been together to talk genealogy (other than e-mails and on the phone) for months and months.

I will be leaving for western Nebraska tomorrow afternoon.  Lil' Red will be loaded with my suitcases, genealogy bags, computers, projector, along with boxes of books.  Hang in there Lil' Red, you can rest once I get there!

You Go Genealogy Girl #2 and I plan some research jaunts before leaving on Thursday of next week for the Black Hills.  On Friday we will arrive in Rapid City, South Dakota to check into the hotel and get ready for the Family History Expo that officially starts the next morning.  I will be presenting two lessons ... Prose on the Prairie and Welcome to America; the Immigrant Woman.

We will return to Nebraska in time to decorate graves of loved ones.  I will present the Welcome to America; the Immigrant Woman program on the evening of Tuesday, May 20th at the Knight Museum and Sandhills Center in Alliance, Nebraska.  This is a fantastic museum and research center with excellent facilities for conferences and presentations.

Turning Lil' Red east and heading home two days later.  You Go Genealogy Girl #2 will be arriving at my house to present a program for the North Platte Genealogical Society on Swedish Research.

Oh ... about those boxes of books.  I will be selling books along the way.  Haven't you heard?  I have spent the winter of 2013-2014 writing books.  I couldn't stop with just one.  My book, Iowa Genealogical Research, came off the press the end of January.  I immediately started working on a revised edition of Genealogical Research in Nebraska.  It came off the press on Thursday of this week.  They are both large books with everything you need to know about doing genealogical research in those two states.  The Iowa book contains 416 pages and the Nebraska book contains 537 pages.  They are both spiral bound.  Who needs weight lifting when you can lift and carry those books around to venues?  You can learn more about purchasing the Iowa book on my web site, Genealogy Works.  At the same web site you can learn more about purchasing the Nebraska book.

This is going to be so much fun.  There is the Internet and then there are all the good times of being around genealogists to talk and share ideas.  I am looking forward to meeting old friends and making new genealogy friends ... and particularly seeing You Go Genealogy Girl #2 again.

You Go Genealogy Girl #1 --- Ruby

Monday, May 5, 2014

The President!

A short note of congratulations!

 You Go Genealogy Girl #1, Ruby Coleman, was recently elected as the new incoming President for the Nebraska State Genealogical Society.  The new Vice President will be Rosalee Swartz,  the Secretary is Kay Wolfe and the Treasurer is Dennis Norvell. The new officers' duties begin on June 1st.

 In speaking with Ruby, I know she has some great ideas for the Society as it re-groups and moves forward. We are all looking forward to a renewed and forward thinking Society that will fill the needs of all genealogists within our state as well as welcoming those who are seeking out their ancestors who may have once called Nebraska their home.


With help from long time and loyal supporters, local societies, volunteers, and new members, I know that Ruby and her leadership team will do a fine job guiding the Nebraska State Genealogy Society as it spreads it's wings over Nebraska.

Congrats go out to "You Go Genealogy Girl #1"

My thanks go to the outgoing President, Trish Collister, Vice President Floyd Smith III and their NSGS officers for all their loyal and continued hard work for our society this past year.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Well, guess what, we ain't dead yet!

Well, guess what, we ain't dead yet! The You Go Genealogy Girls are still alive and well, still doing genealogy every day and for 2014 we hope to get back to traveling and posting more again.

Girl #2 took nearly a year off to try and catch up at home. Organizing genealogy files, vacationing with Go Hubby, outfitting a new travel trailer and trying to sort all my scrapbooking supplies has kept me busy. Not all my projects are completed but progress has been made. (You'd never know it if you saw my basement work/craft room but that remains on the list of  'to do' items.) Someday! I also became Mom to a new Border Collie puppy last year, a full time job which I have come to the conclusion I was too old to take on. Our older Border Collie did not help much as she didn't like the newcomer at first and this old Granny does not have the patience that I once did with raising babies! I have really missed seeing and corresponding with all my genealogy friends and I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of the fun genealogy life, traveling and researching with the 'other' You Go Genealogy Girl this year. We do have several travel plans in the works and we look forward to sharing our fun and frolics as we seek out those ancestors that are dead and gone.

You Go Genealogy Girl#1 Ruby, on the other hand, has been "on the go" a lot and busy with her own projects. She has traveled to Salt Lake City to the FHL (without me...tears), traveled to Virginia to visit relatives and do research, lectured for the Family History Expos, and accepted a position as an area representative for the Nebraska State Genealogical Society. Through it all she also wrote and published a grand and new genealogy research book: "Iowa Genealogical Research." If you need help learning about your Iowa ancestors be sure to check out her book information and you can order the book by clicking on the picture caption below or HERE.  It is a complete genealogical research guide at 416 pages and weighs in at 5 lbs. Ruby's book also includes a vast amount of pertinent Iowa history that will aid you in your research...and that you won't find anywhere else.  So, you see, we have not just been sitting around eating chocolate and jelly beans! Actually, maybe we have...
Iowa Genealogical Research by Ruby Coleman

Please come back soon as we both will be looking forward to having you drop into our world of genealogy.  The You Go Genealogy Girls welcome you. The coffee is always on in our 'virtual' house and the crystal bowl is filled with jelly beans!

You Go Genealogy Girl #2

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hello from Cheri and Ruby

Yes, we are still the You Go Girls.  Life has us going every which direction and most often not together as we would like on our genealogy adventures.  It happens!  We think, we plan and then something happens.

In 2014 we are hoping to do some planned genealogy activities together.  For one thing we are hoping to go to some obscure libraries and museums where genealogy artifacts may be lurking.  Why stay on the beaten path?  Once again we are hoping to be together in June in Salt Lake City.  I will definitely be there are the consultant of my tour group.  If You Go Genealogy Girl #2 can be there, it will be great.

Rest assured that the You Go Genealogy Girls are still together and still enjoying our passion for genealogy.  Stay tuned for togetherness news!!

Ruby -- You Go Genealogy Girl #1

Saturday, December 22, 2012

This Year and Next

Nearing the end of 2012, the You Go Genealogy Girls wish you a blessed Christmas.  May your hearts be filled with peace and joy.

Looking toward 2013, the "Girls" will be together lecturing and traveling.  Watch future blogs for more information on a February event where we will be lecturing.  Our two week trip to Salt Lake City will be in June 2013.  We hope to see old friends and make new friends in 2013.  Wishing all of our genealogy friends the best of luck with their research in 2013.

You Go Genealogy Girl #1 --- Ruby
You Go Genealogy Girl #2 -- Cheri

Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

The You Go Genealogy Girls wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.  May you have safe travels, good food, lots of story-telling and laughter.  Please pause to remember your ancestors who left you a great legacy.

Ruby --- #1
Cheri --- #2


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