Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Planning a realistic Family History Event in the Ward or Stake

During the next few months many Stakes and some Wards will be holding family history events. So of these will use online content recorded at RootsTech 2014. Some of them will holding their own event for an evening or part or all of a day. There are certain things that make for a successful event. Having attended a large number of conferences all over the United States in the past few years, I have some pretty definite opinions about what makes a good conference. It is tempting to use some regularly scheduled meeting as a family history event. Since everyone is already coming to a Relief Society meeting or other organization meeting, why not just convert the meeting to a family history theme? This might work, but my experience is that when people attend a meeting they are not necessarily interested in the topic. They may attend out of a sense of duty, but they are not prepared to seriously consider doing their own family history.

Most members of the Church have a pretty good idea, right or wrong, about their own "genealogy." I have found that members don't need motivation so much as they need information and practical help. For that reason trying to teach more than two or three people at a time with a "hands on" presentation is very frustrating experience for the instructor as well as the participants. I have taught college computer classes where every student is a class of 20 or 30 students has their own computer. Trying to get that number of people to do the same thing at the same time with vastly different experience levels, is like herding cats, not very productive.

I have had the best success in teaching people one on one. On the other hand, if a group of people who are already interested in genealogy come to a class, they want to know how to solve problems and sharpen their online tools. In those cases a demonstration type class is appropriate and helpful. A very practical basic class can also be successful if the instructor keeps the explanations basic and refrains from telling "war stories" about his or her own success in finding obscure ancestors.

If the leaders of the Ward or Stake want to do something to help the members in their area with genealogy, the best thing they can do is call dedicated family history consultants and make sure the High Priest Group Leaders are actively involved in family history. Then, if they plan an event, the Stake or Ward will already have local individuals who can do the presentations and help with support of those who need family history questions answered.

If the Stake is planning an activity, they might take the time to be aware that the Church already has a program for RootsTech 2014 Family History Fairs around the world. Why not use what is already prepared rather than try to "do your own thing?" You can read about this on in a webpage entitled, "Host a Stake Family History Fair." The Family History Department provides tools to help organize the local family history fair, including:
  • Class content for sessions and workshops.
  • Communication materials to market event to members and community.
  • Web sign-up tool for participants to register.
  • Step-by-step guide to organize and host a successful event.
If you follow this outline and example, you can have a successful event. If you try to do too much or hold an event in conjunction with a regularly scheduled meeting, you can preach but you can't teach. 

No comments:

Post a Comment