Montana State Genealogical Society

PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE: Fall 1997

Kudos to the Yellowstone Genealogy Forum for a wonderful 20th anniversary seminar! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I am sure everyone else who attended did too. I saw Curt Witcher when I attended the FGS conference in Seattle in 1995, and there was no way that I was going to miss being at a seminar in Montana in which he was the presenter. It was a big step and took a lot of vision and courage to bring some one of that national prominence and stature to Montana. I would like to add a congratulations to the YGF too, for twenty good years. They are an example and a strength to all of us.

Another "high five" goes to the Lewis and Clark County Genealogy Society for hosting one of the teleconferences that have been sponsored by the Ohio Genealogical Society and the Federation of Genealogical Societies. I realize that it will be over by the time this newsletter goes out, but I want to thank them for having the perception and spirit to stick their necks out and take advantage of this offer. I am planning to be there and am really curious to see how it will turn out. With Jesse Long and the LCCGS in charge I feel confident that it will be super. We'll let you know in the next newsletter.

At the FGS conference in Seattle Paulette Parpart and I learned that one method of boosting sagging membership in a genealogy society is to hold beginners classes. The Western Montana Genealogical Society has been struggling to get out of a slump lately, and they decided to give the beginners classes a try. They held classes every Wednesday evening for eight weeks at the public library. Different classes were taught by different people. It took foresight, nerve, and work to put the classes together, and they were a little worried at first as only a dozen or so people pre-registered. They had a good turn out for the first class on Sep. 3rd, but then the word evidently got out and 45 people showed up for the second class! I think the average was around thirty per class for the eight week session. As the old saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. At their monthly meeting in October, the Western Montana Genealogical Society saw fifteen new faces. What a hit! Hmmm. Maybe those people at the FGS conferences actually know what they are talking about. Vision, commitment, courage to try new ideas--even to stick one's neck out a little bit if necessary. That's what we need to do in order to be successful societies. That's what the Yellowstone Genealogy Forum, the Lewis and Clark County Genealogical Society and the Western Montana Genealogical Society have done. And I say "GOOD FOR YOU! WELL DONE!"

Pat Thompson, President, MSGS

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