Thursday, June 12, 2014

SCGS 2014 Jamboree–Day 1

Well, I’ve here again!  Yea!  This is one of the greatest genealogy conferences I’ve ever attended over the years.  I’ll post a few notes about the classes I attended and a few other thoughts in the hopes you’ll find them of interest.

Yesterday was spent at the Ronald Regan Presidential Library.  A great experience and I recommend it if you visit the area.

Below are some pictures of one of the exhibits in the Library.

Ronald Regan Library (17)Ronald Regan Library (18)

In the afternoon I spent time renewing friendships and greeting new bloggers friends.  I was lucky enough to spend some quality time with Randy Seaver discussing a variety of topics including moving large genealogy databases from now that they are closing the site.  Randy has some excellent articles on this topic as well as his observations about the conference so be sure to check out his blog.  It is listed below.

Much of the morning on day 1 was spent greeting many other bloggers and catching up with them.  I always like to ask them questions about a particular problem or brick wall I’ve encountered.  They are a great resource!  In particular, Randy Seaver, Dick Eastman and Thomas MacEntee were most helpful this year.  If you don’t follow their blogs, please do.  They are my favorite genealogy blogs.

Randy’s blog is titled “Genea-Musings” and is found at

Dick’s blog is titled “Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter” and is found at:

Thomas’s blog is titled “GeneaBloggers” and is found at


Class 1:  10 Tips for Finding Newsletter Content

Presenter:  Gena Philibert-Ortega

Facebook: gena.p.ortega
Twitter: genaortega

Notes:  Gina’s presentation was very helpful. She identified several tips to help fine newsletter content for your genealogy Association.

Tip number 1: Have a Template.  Same content, different month. 

She suggested that you have regular monthly content including the following sections:

1. President's message with a greeting.  The President should be a cheerleader for the association and explain the value of your association and the value of your overall program.

2. Reports from Board Members.  Include committee chair reports on their duties or projects.

3.  Meeting Information.  Calendar of upcoming meetings.  Include title of the presentation, time, meeting place, etc.  Use the newsletter as a way to encourage members and public to attend.

4.  Current Projects.  Report on each project and provide any updates about the project and information to access it.  A good place to encourage new volunteers and include contact information.

5.  Member research.  Include an article by a member about their family history or the research they’ve recently completed or a brick wall they’ve hit.  Include success stories.

6.  Organizational information.  Include the contacts for your Association including email addresses and phone numbers if possible (or a phone number for your Association); a membership section published at least twice a year explaining the benefits of belonging to the Association; projects that your Association is working on.

She suggests you also look at Federation of Geological Societies ( resources on the FGS wiki article on newsletters at

She stressed the importance for you to identify the purpose of your newsletter. Be sure to get member input and have the board formalize the purpose of the newsletter.

She suggests the following purposes. A) to inform your members. B) to attract new members.  C) to provide education for your members and the public. D) to document your “community”.  E) Strive to be an expert in your “community”.  She describes your “community” as one in which your association is the expert and/or has the best resources on a particular topic/location.  This might include a local genealogy library with many books on local history, cemeteries or a surname research association focusing on a specific surname.  It is important your association decides the definition of your community.

Tip number 2: Gather geological content.  This might include the following; information on local resources; book-of-the-month from your library collection - highlight the book; include a report on personal research from a member; republish an article from your own previous newsletters or publications; a recap of last month's program.

She suggests using an app to help you to “mind map”.  She demonstrated one she uses titled “Simplemind”.  This is a mind mapping app for either Apple iOS or Android OS.  She says it is a good tool to use for developing content for your newsletter or any other project/work.

She suggests specialize articles such as trips to Salt Lake City or other geological research sites.  Include an article on the local attractions in your area well; include an article on using the Family History Center in Salt Lake City and/or an article from a member who has visited Salt Lake City and can write about their experiences especially on what to look for; it always helps to include photographs as well on any of the articles.

Tip number 3: Have regular or semi-regular columns each month but keep them short. She suggest the following; a tech column with websites with an explanation of it’s value and links; local history; this year in history; libraries to search; beginner’s corner (with a basic tip on genealogy research); geological source information or resource with a short explanation and links; these would be example of examples might be why records or cheat sheets; this month in history with articles on local state or national interest; surname board.

She says it is important to provide monthly due dates for articles to be submitted by your content authors; be sure to send reminder emails to the authors who are contributing to the newsletter; provide suggestions on content, especially about upcoming speakers; be sure to check out other newsletters.  She suggested the International Society Family History websites news editions.

Tip number 4:  Take a survey of your membership using a tool such as Survey Monkey (which we have) to determine what your members would like to see included in a newsletter.

Tip number 5:  Invite members to participate in the newsletter by submitting articles and feedback either as a guest or as regular contributors.

She suggests you have guidelines such as:

1.  Assign a deadline

2.  Clarify what role the editor has with respect to changing word content, format, etc.

3.  Specify the format you expect articles to be submitted such as; MS Word or RTF or Adobe Reader; the size and format for images and the DPI for them; be sure to obtain a consent to publish to avoid copyright issues.

She suggests that you assign a topic to any volunteers who might be interested such a specialty article on locating a surname, a brick wall experience, life experience such as a job or volunteering: genealogy related travel to a specific location where they discovered something new in their genealogy quest and/or a recently attended genealogy conference.

Tip number 6: Press Releases.  These are good to include in a newsletter especially when from your own Association or neighboring associations if they are of interest to interest or value to your members. A press release can be used without consent to publish because they are published to the public.

Tip number 7:  Free content from online sources to include in your newsletter. Many online sources are more than willing to let you republish their article as long as you give them credit and follow their reprint instructions.  See Dick Eastman’s blog for an example.

Be sure you read the fine print as to what you may or may not reprint republish from the Internet website or blog. She suggest a look at Family Search wiki as an example. She also suggests you explore the options for the Creative Commons copyright licensing tools available for publishers.

Tip number 8: Ask speakers.  When a speaker agrees to give a presentation to your association/society, consider asking if they will provide an article for publication in your newsletter.  This can either before or after their presentation. It can tie in with their presentation and will help promote their book, CD, blog or website of the speaker. Be flexible. She suggests putting in something in a speakers contract or email agreement to clarify this aspect of publishing an article by them.  Include due dates formatting and copyright issues for the article.

Tip number 9:  Check other newsletters from other genealogy associations. You can get ideas for content and formatting that will help. You should also be sure to include any announcements from neighboring associations that will be of interest to your members.

She suggests you include photographs, websites and links as much as possible/reasonable.

She suggests you send your newsletter to PERSI because they index by location rather than by name.

Tip number 10:  Transcription and Indexing Projects.  She suggests you do a transcription and indexing project or projects and recruit volunteers. 

Another project is vintage images of the city your society is located in or about some pioneer families.  Then publish an article occasionally in your newsletter as to the progress of such a project or upcoming projects.

She suggests to be sure and include information from any social media sources, blogs or websites that you use that may be of interest and/or of value to your members.

She suggested Genealogy Blog Finder for resources, GeneaBloggers for a great selection of genealogy blogs.  She also recommends Judy Russell's Legal Genealogists blog for information on publishing.

She suggested you should check out various themes you may want to use for your newsletter and don't be afraid to change as needed or at least every two years.

She also also suggests going to and check out their help articles and information articles on desktop publishing and newsletters. 

She closed her presentation by encouraging us to use your email tools to keep your members involved and informed.

Class 2:  Making the Case:   Change and Technology in Your Society

Presenter:  Randy Whited

I found Randy's presentation to be a little dry but at the same time, very interesting and compelling. He addressed the age-old question of when and why change within a nonprofit association was needed or wanted.  He strongly suggested your association hold a “Team Building” meeting at least once every 3 – 4 years to refresh it’s vision, mission, goals and objectives.

One key question to ask during a team building exercise or at a special board meeting is this:  Why change?   Randy suggested we should rather ask, Why incorporate change?.  He highlighted three overlapping areas.

1.  Relevance

2.  Scalability

3.  Sustainability

He said is important to define what success would look like for your association when you implement change.

He said to be sure to include your membership in this definition.  You should look at what funds will be needed and compared them to what you have on hand.  He said to be sure to look at issues like publications are already available for measuring your activities and to take surveys and look at those results.

He said to document your cash flow and your activities now and compare them to where you want to be in one year and in five years. Be sure and look for raw data analysis in such things as your financial reports, membership numbers, surveys and SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). Note:  To learn more about SWOT analysis, go to this Wiki web page:

Randy next discussed why you should become a corporation (non-profit) and what tools you can use.  He said to be sure your articles of incorporation and your bylaws help your organization meet your strategic goals and objectives.

He suggested that you consider revising your bylaws as needed to reflect the changes that may result from a redefined vision of your Association and how you wish to implement the changes your members and Board have agreed on.

He said there are several broad categories used for SWOT analysis. These broad categories are:

1.  Financial

2.  Education

3.  Publicity

4.  Leadership.

He suggests the board establish ownership for specific areas identified above and has be sure to distinguish between functional and strategic ownership responsibilities.

Class 3:  Genealogy Cloud Computing

Presenter:  Thomas MacEntee

Thomas’s presentation was very informative and helpful. He highlighted the definitions of cloud computing and explained in an easy-to-understand way what benefit cloud computing can be to individuals and in particular to genealogy associations.

Class 4:  Ultimate Google Search Strategies for Genealogists

Presenter:  Lisa Louise Cooke

Genealogy Gems:

Lisa's presentation was excellent. She discussed several strategies for using Google search and explain many different ways to make the most of your search time on Google. She highlighted her book titled “The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox" that has excellent hints and tips.  It also contains resources and specific examples to show you how to make the most of your Google search strategies. I highly recommend the purchase of her book if you're looking to improve your Google search capabilities for genealogy research. You can find her book for sale on her website in the “Store” page where it sells for $24.95.  It is also available in a number of books stores online.

Class 5:  Genealogy Apps for Mobile Devices

Presenter:  Dick Eastman


A photo of Dick Eastman on the state giving his presentation.

I was able to spend a few minutes with Dick before he started his presentation.  We discussed all things genealogy and technology.  I really enjoyed talking with Dick as he is truly “THE MAN” when it comes to genealogy and technology!

Dick's presentation was outstanding. To help demonstrate how far mobile technology has come, he gave his presentation using his iPad. Dick had several excellent examples of why mobile apps are of value to genealogy researchers.  He provided several screenshots for a number of these apps. He explained the difference between each of the apps available for the Apple iOS devices and for Android OS devices. 

Class 6:  Sources, Citations and Documentation with RootsMagic

Presenter:  Bruce Buzbee

Bruce's presentation was outstanding. If you use RootsMagic, you would have appreciated his insights, tips and hints for using his software.

Dick reminded us that RootsMagic has many free webinars available on their website at  There is a webinar available now on this topic and I recommend you check it out soon.

I highly recommend all of these webinars as they are easy to follow and help you develop your skills using roots magic.

Below is a picture of Bruce giving his presentation.


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