(+) Is Your Genealogy Society Growing or Shrinking?

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

I am fortunate in that I travel a lot and am often asked to speak at local genealogy society meetings. I meet a lot of members and officers of these societies, and I hear a lot of stories about each society’s successes and failures. A few stories seem to be repeated over and over by multiple societies although I do hear a few exceptions. By far, the most common stories I hear are that a particular society is struggling and is slowly becoming smaller and smaller. A few societies report the opposite: they are steadily growing in both membership and in services.

What is the difference? I don’t have all the answers, but I do see a few common factors amongst the stories I hear.

A Changing Environment

The most common story I hear is that the world is changing around us. Of course, the world has always been changing; but changes appear to be happening faster today than ever before. Ignoring the recent problem of the Covid-19 pandemic that (hopefully) will disappear sooner or later, the major items that seem to impact genealogy societies include rapidly-changing technology, ever-increasing expenses of publishing and distributing printed materials, increased expenses of gasoline and other travel expenses for members, competition from the World Wide Web, and also a great problem with inertia. Inertia is illustrated by a refrain that I hear often: “We don’t want to change.”

Let’s tackle that last item first: inertia.

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