Friday, April 19, 2013
April Evening Meeting Wrap-up
Last night I attended the April 2013 evening meeting of the Elgin Genealogical Society (EGS). The program for the evening was a “members sharing” and, unfortunately, not too many people came to join in with the sharing. I’m hoping the reason was more due to the inclement weather than with the type of program. We had torrential rain for a couple of days and many areas were suffering from flooding. I know if my basement were flooded I wouldn’t have been there.
“Sharing” programs are among my very favorite. Over the years I’ve learned as much, if not more, from such evenings as I have from lectures or talks from experts. People who avoid sharing meetings have no idea what they’re missing. Sitting among them at a normal speaker’s program are some of the most knowledgeable genealogists/researchers/family historians – other members of their local society. These “experts” rarely have credentials but have worked on their own families for many years learning their craft by personal study and trial-and-error. Many of them would feel intimidated standing before a crowd to give a talk but happily share in smaller groups.
EGS meets at the Gail Borden Library which is one of the busiest libraries I’ve ever seen. They have multiple programs going on almost all the time. Last night was no exception and, as it turned out, EGS was moved from its normal meeting rooms to a smaller venue upstairs. Due to this change, we didn’t have the tables we are accustomed to and which we had planned to use to divide into smaller groups. However, again hopefully due to the weather, we had fewer in attendance than normal so we adapted and stayed together as one group.
Before the program began I was telling Larry Pepper, a fellow member of our writers’ group, about the writing challenge I’ve put myself under (to write 500 words before I am allowed to do anything else when I go to work in my office) and why I’ve done so. Sara Taylor and the facilitator for the program heard our conversation and asked me to begin the sharing with that subject. Because of that I probably ended up talking too much, not uncommon I’m afraid, but I think everyone attending shared something during the hour. We learned about a couple of websites being used, groused a little about Ancestry Family Trees but in the end most of us admitted using the site for documents and such. We shared stories about some items used in days gone-by like ice boxes, milk wagons, and clothes drying apparatus which brought up the value of time lines and historical placement. We discussed writing “stories” versus putting notes into genealogy software and the pros and cons of both. We heard about the value of keeping a “to-do list” or research log on software like Evernote so that no matter where you are you have access to what you need. All this in a matter of one hour!
Though not exactly the program we had planned, this is what is so great about this type of platform. You can let the discussion take its course and the attendees direct the flow. I know these programs can be overdone but I’m always happy when I can be part of members sharing.
By the way, this concludes my word count+ for the dayJ.