11 March 2013

Getting Folks to Jamboree

-- Guest Post by Jean Wilcox Hibben, Ph.D, CG

    I am the outgoing President of a decent-sized genealogy society (slightly over 100 members) as well as the Director of a Southern California Family History Center. With all the people interested in family history, with whom I am in contact, all living less than 100 miles from the location of the annual SCGS JAMBOREE, you would think that we (genealogists in Corona) would have a decent representation at the event. Well, last year I was the only one from our area who attended and the previous year we had three or four besides me. Numbers weren’t much different for previous years. It was my lack of promoting the event, you might be thinking . . . but at the society I mentioned it every month beginning in January through the meeting in May, promoted it on our website, and wrote about it in our newsletter and in our meeting “programs” that we give out to all attendees, including non-members. For both organizations, I sent email reminders about it. I had posters about it in the Family History Center.  What am I doing wrong? This has been puzzling me for a number of months and I think that this year I will take a different direction in the promotion.

    Too often we tell people things like “this is the greatest genealogy event this side of the Rockies,” or “there are lots of well-known speakers who will be teaching on all sorts of family history topics,” or “there are some free events for those not registered for the conference,” and even “there are lots of door prizes.” But these are all very vague. Instead of being general, we may have a better response if we are familiar with what is happening and then focus on the things that will be of interest. I may not jump to hear “lots of well-known speakers,” but, since my area of research is German records, if I am told that there is a speaker (Leland Meitzler) who will be talking about using the Internet to find Germanic ancestors, I am much more inclined to attend for that, if nothing else.

    For those reading this who want your friends join you at the event, go over the schedule and see what specific lectures may be of interest to those people. And, if you are like me and have a lot of friends who are interested in genealogy but are not certain that their knowledge level warrants attending such a big conference, remind them about the many opportunities for beginners to get help. Besides classes in beginning genealogy topics, there is the Research Assistance room where those who are in need of a consultation to get over a stubborn wall can receive such help for free (though the participant must be registered for the conference, there is no additional fee for this service). Getting one-on-one help from an expert is rare, so this may be just the thing your friend (or you) is/are looking for.

    Detailed information on Research Assistance – signing up, volunteering to be a consultant, possible help topics, and more – will be forthcoming. Keep an eye on the Jamboree Blog and the website.

    And KUDOS to all the non-local societies (San Diego County, the High Desert, and other areas) where you organize caravans or buses to bring a full contingent of genealogical addicts to a weekend of information and fun!

            Contributed by Jean Wilcox Hibben; PhD, MA, CG(sm)

1 comment:

Denise Hibsch Richmond said...

Great post Jean. Locally, I hear three comments about out-of-town conferences: cost and that the availability of local programs and free webinars is just as good. Root Cellar Sacramento Genealogical Society generally has about 6 members attend Jamboree and we're 400 miles north. C'mon Corona, I'll see you there!