For the past several months Shannon Bennett and I have been busy organizing a Fall Genealogy Program scheduled for Saturday 11 October 2014 at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library in Fredericksburg.
The program featured two 45 minute presentations on helpful search techniques for FamilySearch.org and using the U.S. Census. The third presentation was on a relatively new site, Find My Past. Immediately following the presentations we offered one-on-one consultations for those who had made appointments - Fredericksburg’s version of Ancestors Road Show.
Over 50 people arrived for the three morning presentations. Nine people were assisted with their brick walls following those sessions. Four more left their names for future assistance.
What we did right: We kept the presentations to 45 minutes. The presenters were challenged to keep their PowerPoints to this amount of time, but were thankful when they achieved it. We had a few minutes break between each session so computers could be switched out, which gave the audience time to visit the restrooms, grab some coffee, water and to sample some of the wonderful baked goods our members supplied. The one-on-one sessions, called Brick Wall Busters, was also a hit. This concept is new to Fredericksburg, but I wanted to try it because it was a huge hit when we offered this in Newtown several years ago. We are so thankful to the five volunteers who gave up their time, energy and expertise to assist these folks.
What we will do better next time: When Shannon brought up the suggestion of doing a fall genealogy program there didn’t seem to be much enthusiasm by members of the society. But we forged ahead working with the library staff over the summer to put things in place. A sort of holiday weekend (schools are in session on Monday), and apparent lack of the club’s enthusiasm to spread the word made us feel not many would show. Consequently, we did not feel registration was necessary except for the consults. About 25 people thought they should register so my cell phone and email were busy this past week. I realized then why registration is important - refreshments!! Duh! At first I thought one Box of Joe each for regular and decaf would suffice – I ended up getting 5 boxes (50 cups), which was way too much. Live and learn.
We see the need for presentations that meet various experience levels. That is also a challenge for the presenters, but our three presenters yesterday met that challenge well.
We are already brainstorming for our next genealogy program!