google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html The Armchair Genealogist: July 2012

Want to Build a Family History Legacy Book

The Moment I Knew - Bruce's Story


Charles Pache, 1766-1849,
original owner of my inherited Grandfather clock
In the summer of 2006 I helped my son ferry his belongings on a long cross-Canada road trip as part of his move from Cambridge, Ontario to where I lived in Vancouver, British Columbia, and enroute we stopped in to visit  my eighty-one year old, widowed mother in Wiarton, Ontario. Dad had succumbed to cancer four years earlier and Mom was intent on dispersing her belongings to the family, most likely due to her own physical decline, signs of which were just beginning to exhibit themselves. She urged me to sort through her old pictures and take whatever I wanted.

Space was tight in the two vehicles laden with my son's belongings so I could not take a lot, and frankly, wasn't so inclined. But amongst the pictures that I came away with was a single sheet of paper detailing the basics of a Connor family tree which had been made a decade before by a distant cousin, Phil Connor. Phil had taken up genealogy in the dark ages prior to computers and on-line internet resources and I vaguely remembered him visiting and interviewing my Dad. It wasn't until the following spring that I took a good look at this family tree chart while trying to purge my own glut of space-consuming hard copy pictures, by scanning them to disk.

My father had tried to interest me in the family history three decades earlier, during a trip to his hometown of Saint John, New Brunswick, where he dragged me around while he interviewed what few relatives he could find still living there. Prior to this, Dad had never talked at all about his family, not even his immediate family members such as his father; a common Irish trait amongst our Connor progenitors, as I later learned through various cousins. The Connor clan also proved to be the least documented of all the branches of the family, and possibly of any other family in history.

Barely out of my teens, I paid scant attention and had little interest in the family history during that Saint John tour so long ago, and couldn't even remember who we visited or what we heard. Maybe it was the fact that Dad had now passed, or concerns about how Mom was declining with the years, but for whatever reason, looking then at Phil's concise depiction of six known Connor generations finally intrigued me, and I wondered if I could go on-line to expand on this basic information.

Inherited from by paternal grandfather,
 built in  England mid 1700's. Still works!
Soon I was accessing and joining sites such as Ancestry.ca, scotlandspeople.gov.uk and MyHeritage.com, to see what was out there and to publish what little I had, and before long, emails started pouring in from other people who were researching the same ancestors. Seeing immediate results and "meeting" previously unknown relatives seemed to awaken my curiosity in this new hobby, and genealogy soon became what I'm sure my sons felt was an obsession. As details accumulated from birth, marriage, death and census records, and as pictures and personal stories from others on the same ancestral hunt came in, the dry names and dates on paper came to life, and my excitement grew.

Soon I was joining the local genealogical society and reading everything I could lay my hands on about the research process. I also read Sharon DeBartolo Carmack's book, You Can Write Your Family History, and thought this would be a terrific retirement project. I was hooked.





Meet the Storyteller - Bruce Connor

Bruce and his only granddaughter, the inspiration behind his book .
Bruce is a retired air traffic controller living in Vancouver,British Columbia. Sandwiched beside Stanley Park and the seawall, his location also facilitates his photography hobby. Bruce has been researching for over two years logging a lot of miles in Canada, the US and the Uk, pouring through BMD records and newspapers in various libraries and archives. Bruce is hoping to complete one more trip to the east coast of Canada and the US this fall, followed by another final research trip back to the UK in the spring. He's hoping these trips will help him to complete the family history book he is currently writing. He plans to self-publish this overly large effort by the end of next summer. Good Luck Bruce!


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If you would like to have your story published on the Armchair Genealogist for our feature The Moment I Knew, click Everyone Has a Story  for all the details. 

Tuesday’s Tip – Technology for Genealogy

Today’s tip is for those of us who wish to stay ahead of the learning curve when it comes to the apps, software, tablets, computers and gadgets that can serve us well in our genealogy research and writing.

We all know if can be a full-time job just keeping up on the newest of technology, let alone wondering how it can be applied to genealogy research and writing. There is a new Facebook group started by Susan Peterson called Technology for Genealogy. This group is aimed at genealogists eager to share and learn about technology and how it can relate to our industry. This Facebook page can assist you in 3 very major ways….

1. Follow the discussions
Even if you don’t consider yourself an expert  learn about what other genealogists are using and how you can apply them to your own genealogy research. The nice thing about this group is you’ll learn from those who are already using the tools. Learn how they are applying it to their genealogy research and writing before spending one dime.

2. Add Your Knowledge and Expertise
Perhaps your ahead of the learning curve on any given app or gadget. You can add many of your own insights to the conversation and help the rest of us out. Share your knowledge and expertise.

3. Ask a question, Get an answer
Need a specific question answered? Not sure a gadget is right for you? Afraid to spend the money? Ask for some feedback, this group is filled with knowledgeable professionals eager to share their hands on advice.

Click the link Technology for Genealogy and join the group. Join the hundreds of genealogists and family historians who are already sharing.  All levels of experience in both genealogy and technology are welcome.

Monday Morning Mentions


Monday Morning Mentions is an opportunity to reflect on the events of the week at the Armchair Genealogist and in the blogging and book community. Over my morning cappuccino, I will take the opportunity to share with you some of my favourite blogs posts this week and give a nod to my peers.


You can also find me on Facebook. Stop by and leave a message. I often will link some great finds there as well. You can also follow me on twitter at @LynnPal or my twitter paper The Armchair Genealogist Journal.



At the Armchair Genealogist this week, posts included the following:

Monday Morning Mentions
Will blogging my family history spoil the book? 
The Moment I Knew - Linda Dooley's Story

This week's mentions include:
 Internet Genealogy – a great genealogy or internet tip that will benefit any armchair genealogist.


Learning From Our Mistakes by James Tanner at Genealogy's Star offered a very honest post this week. James fesses up to a big one, and the lessons learned. 


Writing Family History - great advice or information on writing your family history.

This week’s mention:

Biff Barnes at Stories to Tell  offers some very clear and useful advice this week in Creating Dialogue in Nonfiction About the Past. Biff shows us how to add voice to our ancestors with out crossing the line into fiction. 




This week's mention:
New Genealogy Blog – we will tip our hat to a newcomer who impresses us right out of the box

This week the new genealogy blog Treelines  caught my eye. This blog claims to be 'building a storytelling tool of your dreams.'  I'm listening. Although not yet released to the public they have a blog up and running. One post this week particularly caught my eye. Read This is Why Your Society Isn't Attracting Younger Members


Social Media for the Genealogist - this will include social media advice and learning opportunities from experts both inside and outside of the genealogy industry.

This week's mentions: 

In light of all the discussion this week on the blogs of earning an income from genealogy and the various opportunities that exist,  I've chosen an article from a blogger who always keeps me thinking. This is infact a podcast, Pat Flynn shares his insights in affiliate marketing in this week's podcast Affiliate Marketing The Smart Way - How to Stop Hoping and Start Earning from the Smart Passive Income Blog.


And on the same note,  5 Key Ingredients to Charging What You're Worth from Duct Tape Marketing is worth a read. 

Books that Move and Matter - each week we will feature an ebook or print book with the family historian in mind. It may come as a great source of information, for research or writing or playing to our historical interests, or may just be a great read I think genealogists will love.

This week I'm sharing a book by one of our own.This past weekend, I personally started reading Stored Treasures by Smadar Belkind Gerson.

Smadar discovered her great-grandmother's journals while researching her family history, that resulted in her first non-fiction book. 

Minnie Crane lived through two world wars, pandemics and the Great Depression. Thirty years since her death, Smadar has brought her great-grandmother's story to the world through her personal diary.  

"Minnie came from an extremely humble beginning and made huge sacrifices. Her telling account sheds light on the story of Belitsa, a little town in Russia, now part of Belarus, a Jewish community obliterated by the Nazis. It also traces immigration of many Jews to America at the turn of the twentieth century."  

I would like to wish Smadar much success with such a beautiful accomplishment. You can find Smadar at her blog Past-Present-Future



You can find more new genealogy bloggers at Thomas' list of New Genealogy Blogs at Geneabloggers.

For other great reads, Randy at Genea-Musings offers the Best of the Genea-Blogs

Read Friday Finds by Julie Cahill at GenBlog 

Dan Curtis, Professional Personal Historian always puts together some interesting selections in Monday's Link Round-Up.

British and Irish Genealogy blog offers lots of goodies, This week brings Friday Fragments

Have a great genealogy week, keep researching and writing!

The Moment I Knew - Linda Dooley's Story



In Mother’s Memory
Doris Jean Meyer nee Dollen
12 July 1927 – 8 September 2008
My desire to learn about my family tree took root in the year 2008. Having pondered for many years, I finally took the plunge and signed on to Ancestry.com. With high hopes, I registered for a World Membership. Linda Dooley was going to search the world for those unknown ancestors for just about one dollar a day!

Four weeks into my project, my mother was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Her cells were fast growing. She chose to undergo chemotherapy, which was not an easy path for my octogenarian mother. My genealogical finds entertained Mom throughout her battle with cancer.

Realizing that the window of opportunity was rapidly closing we began hearty discussions about our family. My mother and I poured over old photographs. These walks down memory lane comforted us both as I watched mother decline.

As I discovered bits of the past, I brought them to her sick bed. Here is an article detailing her Auntie Lou’s bridal shower. Reading it gave my mother a case of the giggles. We just loved the creative writing.


“A Surprise Shower For A June Bride”

April showers began in advance for June brides,
when last Friday night, Miss Lucille Dollen thought
she had said, “Number Please” for the last time,
that night, when suddenly a group of her associates
in the telephone office burst in upon her like rain out
of a summer cloud. Yes it was a pre-nuptial show,
a regular pour down, sure to bring the orange blossoms
in June, when Miss Dolllen is to be a bride.

From the office the merry party went to the home of
Mr. and Mrs. W. G. Meyer on State Road. There a
bountiful supper was served. A delicious mountain of cake
made by Mrs. Meyer, salads and all the choice dainties
young ladies enjoy. After answering a multitude of calls.

The color scheme in decorations was prettily carried
out in pink and green.

The game played was “Progressive Fifty”.
Miss Lorraine Ayer won first prized, the second
prize was won by Miss Eleanor Cronin.
Consolation, Miss Lucille Dollen.
These prizes which were kitchen utensils the winners
Gave to the guest of honor, Miss Dollen.
Miss Dollen is leaving her position soon for her home
at Des Plaines and plans to be married in June.

After that all calls over the line will receive a busy signal.”[1]

Throughout our discussions, Mom had one recurring question. She wanted to know what happened to her cousin, Leroy Dollen. “Had I found him?” she would ask. Yes, I thought I did but cared not to share that he had passed on. Well, she kept on asking and I kept replying, “Not yet, Mom.”
Leroy Dollen

My mother passed away on September 6, 2008. One week later, I discovered that someone had downloaded my entire tree on Ancestry.com. Who could possibly be interested in my tree? To my delight and surprise, they were the daughters of Leroy Dollen! My mother missed meeting them by just one week.


Almost four years have passed and I have become fast friends with my second cousins. We share genetics, family stories, research trips and are committed to gathering Dollen relatives wherever they may be. 


Chills run down my body, each time I read this post. I continue to be grateful for the gifts of my mother and her Dollen family.

I am blessed to have had that moment . . . The Moment I Knew . . . Genealogy had become my passion!
Linda Dooley and LeRoy Dollen's daughters:  Mary Leah Dollen Bergdahl and Elaine Dollen Clark




[1] “A Surprise Shower For A June Bride,” Cook County Herald, 1 April 1930, p. 2, col.3; digital image, Ancestry.com  (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 September 2011).


Meet the Storyteller 
Linda Dooley 



Linda Dooley is a family historian with an itch to become a professional genealogist.


Her genealogical journey started with the gift of her paternal grandmother’s family Bible. This gift rested on a shelf for two long decades before Linda actually dove into genealogy. She is glad she did.

Linda is vice-president of her local genealogical society. She is a member of the National Genealogical Society, The New England Historic and Genealogical Society and BIGWILL (British Interest Group of Wisconsin and Illinois). She is also a graduate of Boston University’s Genealogical Research Certificate Program.

Linda and her husband have three grown children and five month-old puppy named Riley. In addition to genealogy, Linda enjoys reading, exercise, biking, knitting and traveling.

You may visit Linda at her blog: 1625 Lincoln Avenue 



If you would like to have your story published on the Armchair Genealogist for our feature The Moment I Knew, click Everyone Has a Story  for all the details. 



Will blogging my family history spoil the book?


A reader asked, “If I write my family story online, how will it impact a future book? Will it act as a spoiler for the book?"

My answer was it depends, yeah I know a politically correct, no commitment kind of answer. But really it depends. Let me explain.

It depends on two things who is your audience and what you intend to do with your book. Let me elaborate with a few examples.

1. If you are using the blog to book project as a tool to write your family history and curate it into a book for your family then no worries. First, because many will buy your book regardless of whether it is on the web. They want a hard copy, either by virtue of a reference book or as a legacy to the next generations, or as a gift to their children or future children. Still plenty of reasons to buy the hard copy. Some people just believe what is posted on the internet will disappear and they will lose access to this information, so most will buy your book, even if they can read it online. Holding a family history book in your hands is a beautiful thing.

Printing a book is expensive, the cost alone will limit the size. This means some things will be left out, not all documents and pictures may make the cut. So by all means use your family history blog to book to post additional documents and information that are likely to be edited out due to size restrictions, while making the book itself, a special edition print.

Include something in your book that will make it hard for them to walk away from, wait for it....THEM. Include a section of current living family, with pictures and bios etc. Something most would not want to see on a website but would be happy to have it in a family book. I guarantee the first page they turn to when they open that book will be theirs.

2. If you are looking to create a family book to sell to distant cousins, strangers who carry your surname and who may wish to own your book for their own research then again it probably won’t matter. Some will still buy it because they want that hard copy reference book.  However, I would consider holding back some information if you plan on going widely commercial with your blog to book. Let those distant cousins know there will be bonus material in the book.

3.  While most family history writers are likely to fall into the No.1 or No.2 category, there are plenty who want to get a little more creative and ambitious with their story. If you plan on writing a commercial family history book, perhaps in a more novel-like format, that you wish to self-publish or seek a publisher for then you definitely want to consider holding back some of your story for the book.

Publishers like to know their is more behind the curtain. But knowing that you already have a platform and readership will make you very attractive in securing a book deal. You don’t have to give away the farm.

So how do you blog your family history story and not spoil the book version?

Blogging a book certainly works better for non-fiction books. And while one would consider family history non-fiction it falls more into the category of creative non-fiction, where you are going to turn all that wonderful research into a lovely story in a novel-like book. 

This takes planning and forethought and that is why I have spent so much time with you in the planning process. You need to not only plan out your story, your plot and your cast of characters but you need an outline, a list of chapters and what scenes will create those chapters. You need to break those chapters into scenes or posts as we discussed in our recent mind mapping exercise.

Then you must be able to write a blog post that not only grabs the readers attention each and every time but also leaves them wanting more, waiting with baited breath for your next post. This takes serious planning but it’s my belief that this kind of planning will create a great story and make you a better writer. By creating page-turning posts everyday you will create a following, a loyal readership who will line up to buy your book.

If you are dead set on not spoiling your family history story for a potential audience, then write about the writing process, share your writing struggles, while still introducing the audience to your cast characters, the scene and setting, the social history, your research etc. plenty of blog ideas to keep things going.
Get your readers hooked on the ancestor. Make them want to know more. Establish your ancestors problems(the plot), write about their character, what has put them in this situation – you know the back story. You need to make people sit up and say I need to no more about these people.

You can also take the approach of holding back on a few “missing chapters” for the book version. Not enough to annoy your readers but enough to keep them guessing and wanting more.

Think like a TV series writer. Think of a TV show you’ve been following for years. TV writers love to dangle the carrot and get you hooked. Each week the character goes through challenges but never quite having that big win. There are small wins along the way but always a new problem each week. All the while you fall in love with the characters, the adventure, an opportunity to be immersed in a different time and place. Before you know it you’re rooting for the ancestor to get his big day and you’ve been watching for years.

So while it depends on what kind of family history book you wish to publish, one thing is for certain, plan strategically, know who your reader is and give them a reason to like the blog but love the book.

Want to transform a family history blog into a book? Sign up so you don't miss a thing.

Monday Morning Mentions


Monday Morning Mentions is an opportunity to reflect on the events of the week at the Armchair Genealogist and in the blogging and book community. Over my morning cappuccino, I will take the opportunity to share with you some of my favourite blogs posts this week and give a nod to my peers.


You can also find me on Facebook. Stop by and leave a message. I often will link some great finds there as well. You can also follow me on twitter at @LynnPal or my twitter paper The Armchair Genealogist Journal.



At the Armchair Genealogist this week, posts included the following:

Eliminating the Costs of Your Next Genealogy Conference

The Moment I Knew - Linda's Story 

This week's mentions include:
 Internet Genealogy – a great genealogy or internet tip that will benefit any armchair genealogist.

Last Friday, Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings wrote an informative article Citing an Unsuccessful Search. He had a great idea, you'll need to read the article to learn more. But I wanted to know how a non-blogger could do the same. So I asked. Of course, I got my answer. Read this week's responses in Follow Up Friday: Helpful Reader's Comments.


Writing Family History - great advice or information on writing your family history.

This week’s mention:

Kathy offers us a wonderful approach in writing her family history and story on her blog Kathy's Search. Read the Cinderella Centurian, this is a wonderful example of writing, as well is a great example for those of you doing the family history blog to book project.


Writing conflict in your family history is always a challenge. Mary Carroll Moore from the blog How to Plan, Write and Develop a Book shares some insight into the challenges of conflict. When Nothing is Happening...Why We Shy Away from Writing Good Conflict and What We Can Do About It offers some great advice that can be applied to writing your family stories.


This week's mention:

New Genealogy Blog – we will tip our hat to a newcomer who impresses us right out of the box

I read a lovely blog today that gave me hope that there are plenty of young'uns out their who will carry on the genealogy torch. Finding Family , One Girl's Obsession With Family History is showing plenty of potential.  Meet Jess, who is a lovely young girl (that's her word not mine) from  Perth, Australia. Well written and well cited a great family history blog. 


Social Media for the Genealogist - this will include social media advice and learning opportunities from experts both inside and outside of the genealogy industry.

This week's mentions: 

4 Ways to Turn Twitter.com into Your Social Media Powerhouse written from Michael Hyatt's blog by guest writer Leo Widrich. I was surprised to find out I am happily using 3 of the 4 suggestions to maximize my twitter experience. Check it out. 


Books that Move and Matter - each week we will feature an ebook or print book with the family historian in mind. It may come as a great source of information, for research or writing or playing to our historical interests, or may just be a great read I think genealogists will love.


  This book comes as a recomendation from Marian Pierre Louis at Roots and Rambles and her post An Incredible Piece of Evidence Analysis. She stumbled on a new-old book that has enlightened the way she looks at her research, A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812. She shared it and now on it's on my summer reading list. Perhaps you want it on your list this summer. 


You can find more new genealogy bloggers at Thomas' list of New Genealogy Blogs at Geneabloggers.

For other great reads, Randy at Genea-Musings offers the Best of the Genea-Blogs

Read Friday Finds by Julie Cahill at GenBlog 

Dan Curtis, Professional Personal Historian always puts together some interesting selections in Monday's Link Round-Up.
British and Irish Genealogy blog offers lots of goodies, This week brings  News from Everywhere

Have a great genealogy week, keep researching and writing!

The Moment I Knew - Linda's Story


Fred and Lil Gartz 11-8-42
My brothers and I scoured the corners and cobwebs of my parents’ attic shortly after my mother died in 1994. We had one week, before my brothers had to return to their jobs in Seattle, to clear out the Victorian home my parents had lived in for the previous thirty years.

After my uncle died in 1990, our job had been to clear out his house as well. He had lived with my grandparents his entire life, so when we found my grandmother’s cedar chest in their basement, full of old letters and photographs, we had simply moved it to my parents’ attic. We were all young adults at that time, devoted to our emerging careers, and had no time to mess around pondering the relics they’d left behind. Still, we had been raised to value our family’s history, so we never considered throwing it out.

Now the day of reckoning had come. All the older generations were gone, and we had both my grandparents’ and my parents’ stuff to contend with. We simply hadn’t known how much they had saved.

We came across a large box labelled in my mother’s smooth, even handwriting: “Lil’s and Fred’s journals and letters.” They had kept journals? In the box we found my mother’s child-like, but still impeccable script penning her thoughts and opinions starting at the age of ten. She wrote regularly for the next sixty plus years. Dad kept diaries from 1933-1935, from ages of eighteen to twenty-one. Then again from 1950-1956. After that he kept quick notes on a calendar, the highlights or interests of his day.

My parents had saved all the letters they had received from friends, dating back to the 1920s, as well as the letters they wrote to each other from 1949-1962, when my Dad traveled extensively. These letters recreated our lives and the history of our emerging rooming house from a time when we were too young to form memories or know the hidden world of man and wife.


In my grandmother’s cedar chest we discovered a trove of nearly 300 World War II letters between my Uncle Frank, Dad’s younger brother, and his friends and family. Taken together they comprised a history of the War Years. The letters revealed the lives of my parents, grandparents, and their neighbors from 1943-1945, as well as the evolution of a young eighteen year old from a neighborhood kid into a seasoned navigator, charged, along with his peers, of saving the world.

Woschkeruscha Family 1901
We found birth certificates and report cards, diplomas and class pictures; century-old resumes and my mother’s stories published in the Chicago Daily News; photographs from Romania as far back as the 1890s and piles of letters from the Old Country, now Romania, then Austro-Hungary, written in an unreadable ancient German script.

I felt like Howard Carter, peering through a chink in King Tut’s tomb. When asked if he could see anything, he responded, “Yes! Wonderful things!”

I knew then that I had to pursue learning about the lives of my family, to discover what lay hidden in their words, but I couldn’t do it just then. I had little children to raise--helping with homework, volunteering to make our schools a better place, taking on the occasional freelance job. But someday.I swore I would.

That someday came in 2002, when both my boys were older and more independent. I wanted to get to know the uncle whom I’d never met, so I first hauled out the box of World War II letters. Uncle Frank’s letters revealed a sweet, rascally, funny, and generous fellow. The biggest surprise was my grandmother’s letters to him. Instead of the distant and aloof grandmother I had known, her letters revealed a devoted, prayerful mother, desperate for her son’s safety.

Since that day, I’ve pored over thousands of pages of letters and diaries, learning first- hand about my parents’ and grandparents’ struggles and triumphs, my parents’ courtship through Mom’s ebullient, emotional journal entries of falling in love with my Dad.

In 2009 I found my Rosetta Stone, ninety-year old Meta, through an ad my cousin placed for me in a newspaper for ethnic Germans from Romania. I sent Meta copies of the old, unreadable letters and documents my grandmother had saved since 1910, and she deciphered them into readable German, which I could then translate to English. Maybe this was the fateful reason I had chosen German as a major in college, although I had no clue at the time.

Meta’s decoding opened a shuttered window, and the past came blowing in: love letters between my grandparents; my grandfather and grandmother’s diaries of their journeys to America, after two devastating wars, the fate of their homeland and relatives they had left behind.

Josef and Lisi Gartz Oct 13,1911 
The insights I discovered into our family members’ lives and the universal nature of their stories led me to start my blog, Family Archaeologist. I wanted to share not only what I had discovered, but to relate it to the thrill so many of us share when we learn the details of our family’s past. This summer, my blog is revisiting the earliest posts, from the oldest missive I found (a 1910 love letter) to the story of my grandparents’ bold and, at times, harrowing journey to America.

I heard their call when I first laid eyes on those old letters and diaries back in 1994. It’s been ten years now since I was able to answer that call. With a century’s worth of treasures, I feel I’ll never run out of discoveries. The payoff is getting to know my parents and grandparents in their youth, as if restored from dusty death. 


Meet The Storyteller Linda Gartz

Linda cut her journalistic teeth in the television business—researching, producing, and writing documentaries that have aired nationally on CBS, ABC, NBC, and PBS and have been syndicated on cable nation-wide.
Linda has published article in magazines, literary journals, and newspapers nationwide.
Linda is the Family Archaeologist, digging deep into twentieth century history as unearthed through her family’s letters, diaries, photos, and artifacts spanning more than a hundred years.  Join her on a quest to uncover the joy, struggle, loss, and resilience her ancestors experienced—and the secrets revealed along the way. You may recognize some of your own family’s past in hers and learn techniques for investigating, organizing, preserving, and enjoying a genealogical treasure trove. 
Linda's experience clearly displays she understands the power of storytelling. You can find her at her webpage Linda Gartz and her blog, Family Archaeologist.
 




If you would like to have your story published on the Armchair Genealogist for our feature The Moment I Knew, click Everyone Has a Story  for all the details. 

Eliminating the Costs of Your Next Genealogy Conference

Marian Pierre Louis of the blog Roots and Rambles has been struggling with the cost of attending genealogy conferences. Her small genealogy business just can’t afford the expenses incurred from attending these conferences on a regular basis. She proposed the question: How Do Y’all Go to Conferences All The Time?!. 


That opened up a great conversation and revealed that many others are in the same situation as Marian. The return on investment just isn’t there and so one has to wonder whether you should go or not. Even if you are a speaker at a conference and some of your costs can be recouped, the return on investment can be so minimal. It just does not seem like a great business decision.
 

And yet we can’t dismiss the value of attending conferences, the networking and learning can be fantastic. How can we improve on this experience to benefit our bottom line and our business?


I have struggled with this same dilemma as Marian for the past couple of years. I have been following several conversations in the blogging world with regards to the cost of attending conferences. I been working on a possible solution for myself and although I wanted to share it with you later rather then sooner, (as I want to have my own plans completely in place) Marian’s post has prompted me to write this post a little early.


Here is an idea I would like to share, an idea you may want to consider to help pay your way to the next genealogy conference.
 

Sponsorship is a very possible option to helping your defray some of those conference costs.

Before you start dismissing the idea that no one would want to sponsor little old you, or that you have nothing worthy to offer a sponsor in exchange for their money, humour me and read on for some ideas.


What exactly is a conference sponsorship? You invite a company, a group or an organization to pay for all or part of your conference going experience in exchange for a service that you would offer them. This is not a free ride. Sponsorship is not a hand-out it is marketing. There must be a return on investment for the sponsor. And it must be substantial.
 

Where do I find sponsors?

First think locally, you don’t need to have a big corporation in your back pocket. Nor do you need to be a big name blogger with a zillion followers to find sponsors. Yes it’s a national conference but local businesses and organizations can also benefit. Your local community is a perfect opportunity to find sponsorships. It’s in your local community that you have the strongest connections. You know more local business leaders than you do national corporate leaders, and you can help a local business more directly than you can most national companies. Here’s a few ideas.

  • Look for companies that you already have a relationship with.
  • Look for companies that are relevant to your company and your blog.
  • Look to brands you’ve worked with in the past and start with them.
  • If you’ve never worked with a company consider brands you’ve conversed with via Twitter, Facebook, or email, even if it was brief.
  • Consider a company that might be new to social media and could use your experience getting exposure nationwide.
  • Brainstorm products you already love using and consider reaching out to those companies.
  • At the end of the day, remember that who and what you agree to says a lot about you and your blog and your business, so choose wisely.

 

What Can I Offer a Sponsor?

Consider approaching local civic groups, genealogical and historical societies for sponsorship. 
Local businesses may not be interested in you promoting them at the conference particularly if the event is not in their market area. However, your local genealogical society or civic groups may be interested in the information  you obtained from attending a conference.


Offer your local sponsors the benefit of what you'll be learning at the conference. After the conference, share what you learned by doing a presentation with their group. Coming in to your local genealogical society as a guest speaker or to the local civic club will not only provide a return on their investment but it will also gain attention for yourself within the community. 


Seek out smaller genealogy businesses or businesses with products that relate well to the genealogy industry. A small business that can’t afford be an exhibitor at a national conference may love to have a blogger to be a spokesperson in attendance on their behalf.


These businesses could be local or national. Put your thinking cap on to find businesses that could align well with your business. 


I’ve heard of bloggers being outfitted by clothes designers or jewellery makers. When someone compliments you, hand out their business card, be sure to blog pictures of yourself in their attire. I personally wore heritage jewellery by D.R. Taylor Designs at last years Rootstech Conference. In exchange for the free jewellery that was made personally for me, I blogged about the company and handed out the owners business cards whenever someone commented on the jewellery (that was quite often). It was a trial run for me in sponsorship and allowed me the opportunity to experiment with it without costing me or the owner too much of an investment. The learning experience proved valuable in moving forward.


Other ideas you can offer a sponsor

  • You can write dedicated posts on behalf of your sponsor before and after the conference.
  • Review their products, share their mission, host giveaways. Just remember to be transparent about your efforts.
  • Consider running an ad on your blog or website before and after the conference.
  • Host a twitter party to help raise awareness about the brand prior to the conference
  • Display an ad on your Facebook fan page for a determined amount of time.
  • Include links and ads in your newsletter or at the bottom of your email feeds.
  • Include your sponsor’s Twitter handle in your conference tweets, Include #sp (sponsor) for transparency
  • Include your sponsor’s logo in any video shot as part of the conference
  • Wear a shirt bearing your sponsor’s logo or have them send you a sticker or bumper sticker to affix to your laptop or smartphone.
  • Offer your sponsor an ad in your next webinar, podcast or online chat.

I’m currently working on obtaining my own sponsors for my next genealogy conference including a blog conference I will be attending this fall. I will sent out sponsorship packages to any interested parties.  In my next post, we’ll discuss preparing a sponsorship package and how to pitch your idea to a company. In the meantime, do some brainstorming. Who could sponsor your attendance at the next genealogy conference?


In terms of Marian’s dilemma, while I don’t know Marian’s business intimately,  I have no doubt her strong online presence, her speaking skills and her local connections within the her community would make Marian a great candidate for sponsorship. Marian, I would be more then willing to help you brainstorm some ideas in a private setting.


Have you ever used sponsorship to attend a genealogy conference? Love to hear your ideas. 

Canada Day

Due to the Canada Day weekend there will be no Monday Morning Mentions this week. Monday Mentions will return next week at it's regular time.