Thursday, January 24, 2008

Genealogy Societies and Membership ...

Over the past few days, several bloggers posted on the issue of genealogical societies and membership. Jasia, Terry and Denise were just a few of the bloggers who posted on the issue. I couldn't help but add my thoughts to this debate.

I realize that one of the issues is that membership is declining in genealogy societies, but I would like to bring up briefly why members of my generation are not members. I am not a member of a genealogical society, nor have I ever been a member. I haven't been a member because I have been a student, even when I began doing genealogy research in high school. Back then, I did not consider joining because I would not have been able to afford the dues, nor would I have had the time to go as I was busy with school. Even though I am now in college, I still do not give much thought to joining a society as I am busy with school. My first priority is to getting my school work done. Joining a society is not very high on my priority list. Will that ever change? Maybe, but that won't be until after I've graduated and have a job.

Do college students join anything? Sure. Many students join clubs on the college's campus. Of course, I do not know of how many people my age are into genealogy. If they have not joined any genealogical societies, it is probably because of school and work. A college student who goes to school full-time and works, usually does not have much more time than to be involved in a college club outside of school and work. Also, if a college student is working to pay for their education, he or she probably is not going to be able to afford the dues of a genealogy society as a college education is quite expensive. (Of course, I also do not know how much genealogy societies charge in the way of dues.)

Plus, this is a time in a person's life when people are dating, getting engaged or getting married. I don't believe that many of the people my age who are into genealogy (if there are many) would be interested in joining a society as this is a time in which a person's life is rapidly changing. This is the time of a person's life when he or she is just starting to live on his or her own. Of course, this probably also explains why many people in my age group do not express an interest in genealogy. As the lives of people my age are undergoing changes, my peers are more likely to focus on the present and not think about their family's history. If you asked many of my peers about genealogy, they would probably not know what it is or not care. I hesitate to put down not caring, although that is probably true in most cases. When you are just starting to gain Independence, you probably are not going to focus on the past or on your family as you just starting out on your own. Also, some people of my age are not interested in genealogy as a result of the behavior of other family members. For most of my peers, this is a time in a person's life when one is more interested in their individuality than the identity of their family.

So, what do you think? For those of into genealogy who are in college, am I right or am I wrong? As always, you can leave a comment with your opinion.

1 comment:

Moultrie Creek said...

Jessica, I'm thrilled you enjoy genealogy enough to find the time to learn more about your family. The one thing you have that we "old fogies" don't is access to the older generations in your family who are still alive. Don't waste your time and money on societies, but spend it listening to their stories and asking questions about their lives and the generations before them.

There's plenty of time to get involved with societies in the future, but you may not have many opportunities to learn the priceless tidbits of your own family's history. Take advantage of it while you can.