[APG Public List] Genealogical Societies

Janey Joyce jejoyce at sbcglobal.net
Mon Apr 12 22:00:31 MDT 2010

The San Antonio Genealogical & Historical Society has just had an experience that I thought might interest some of you.  

When we learned that NBC was going to run the series "Who Do You Think You Are" we decided to hold a series of four classes aimed toward people who were interested in finding out about their ancestors but really had no clue on how to progress.  The classes were held at 2 p.m. on Sundays March 7, 14, 21 and 28.  The thinking was that people - especially those who are employed - are busy and, if they had any time at all, it was most likely to be on Sunday afternoon. The topics, all presented by society members, were:

How to Find Our When & Where Your Ancestors Were Born, Married & Died

How to Find Your Ancestors in Censuses

How to Find Your Ancestors in Federal, State, County & Town Records

How to Find Your Ancestors Online

We charged non-members $10,00 a session and members $5.00 a session.  As a bonus, nonmembers who signed up for all of the classes were given a $5.00 discount and membership in the society until the end of the current fiscal year on June 30.

We do own & operate a fairly large library that members can freely use; we charge non-members a small fee. It is expensive to operate a library!  The sessions were held in the library annex, which we use as a work room and for small meetings. So we could and did follow each session with an orientation tour of the library which, in addition to books, microfilm, periodicals, etc., also has several computers and subscriptions to an assortment of websites.  Several society members were available to answer people's questions, help them to get started, etc.

In response to popular demand, we added a fifth class that ran on April 11: How to Organize All the Stuff You Find Out About Your Ancestors.

We used every avenue of publicity we could find and were lucky in that the local NBC affiliate interviewed our publicity chairwoman and ran that interview during both the 5 o'clock and 6 o'clock news on the day the series began.

The response was much better than we had hoped for.  

Forty-five people attended one or more of the sessions, 10 of them members.

Seventeen of the nonmembers joined the society.

We're already being asked when we are going to do it again.  NBC has contracted for a second "Who Do You Think You Are" series and we will certainly do this again when that series runs.  But we may not wait until then to do a repeat.  

By the way, we have for many years offered beginner and intermediate classes. And we do have an annual seminar that always features a noteworthy speaker.  This year the speaker will be  John Colletta.

Janey E. Joyce CG
San Antonio, Texas

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