Monday, April 16, 2012

National Volunteer Week Genealogy Style

Most genealogists that I am acquainted with volunteer generously of their time, so it is very appropriate that they be recognized during national volunteer week. 
A quote from one of my friend's facebook posts this morning recognizes the importance of volunteers:

National Volunteer Week is April 15 - 21, 2012.
 "Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in." ~Author Unknown
By: Elders in Action




The community of genealogy has been around for a long time, with a renewed awareness in the 1890s, and the establishment of the Utah Genealogical Society in 1894, it continues to grow and expand. The question is, what type of genealogy community are we 120 years later?

About ten years ago I sent my youngest child off to middle school, where my opportunities to volunteer were more limited, so I decided to dedicate some time to helping in the genealogy community. While completing my bachelor's degree with a focus in genealogy in 2005 and gaining my AG in 2010, the focus on volunteer work was emphasized. We were practically required to become members of the Association of Professional Genealogists, which offers many opportunities for volunteer work. The support of local and national members is important in providing education and benefits to genealogists.

The one clear result from participating in volunteer work is that there are far more rewards than costs or benefits than drawbacks. A major key is to find a balance and not to over commit one's time. When there is a need to cutback do so for a while until things are more flexible in your life.

One of the most rewarding places I have volunteered is the Family History Center. A great deal of my early training in genealogy research came from the other professionals that I worked with. There were several times I had to have a break when other obligations or health issues intervened, but I am very happy to share that I recently returned to this work. In just a few weeks I have benefited from the knowledge that we share.

While at the FHC we are able to do indexing when we do not have patrons. With the phenomenal progress in the indexing of the 1940 census, almost entirely based on volunteer time, we can appreciate the service being provided. Four states are almost completed, another eight are almost halfway, and all the rest are available for indexing. Thank you to the many volunteers who are making this possible.

Our local genealogical and historical societies need volunteers as well. The Genealogical Forum of Oregon is the main connection for local researchers. In the fall I helped with the grand opening of their new facility. While delivering flyers to senior facilities close to my home I made contacts for teaching future genealogy classes. My first class begins tomorrow. While working at the Sherwood Heritage Society I gathered information from one of their collections about my family, and shared with them an inventory for future use of the materials.

National and local conferences are mostly carried out by volunteers. They would welcome any free time you might be able to provide before, during and after the conference. Even a note of appreciation for these generous genealogists would be welcome. Then there are the bloggers who share of their expertise that we freely receive. Geneabloggers offers over 2,000 blogs and some of these are highlighted every week at Geneamusings. The webinars, radioshows and other media offered classes are often done on a volunteer basis.

So, to all of the genealogy volunteers, no matter how you provide service to others in our community, I want to give a huge recognition of those services. While we may not be aware of how others serve, we each can do out part as we are able to promote future growth in the genealogy community. Take time to celebrate with fellow genealogists this week the wonderful growth, education, tools, conferences, online access, all being created through volunteer efforts.

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