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Robert E. Sweeney, PhD, MS

Candidate for
Northeast/North Central County Coordinator Representative

I am announcing my candidacy for Northeast/North Central County Coordinator Representative. I have been the Sullivan County, Pennsylvania County Coordinator for over five years. During that period of time, I have built a team of over 100 local contributors in northern Pennsylvania. We have also enlisted the active allegiance of the local historical society and museum, local newspapers and libraries, and church historians and archivists. You can visit our page at Sullivan County, PA . Our page was the first of a small select group of Pennsylvania counties to be awarded the PAGENWEB Award of Excellence for its comprehensive coverage and educational and historical value. In 2004, I was appointed by our state coordinator to serve on the National Bylaws Revision Committee of USGENWEB. My e-mail adress for correspondence is Bob Sweeney.

Bob Sweeney
Photo by Lynn Ann Franklin

I don't normally enjoy puffing my cheeks out, but I suppose that is what one is supposed to do in order to be a candidate. So, please let you tell me a little bit about myself, my interests and what I believe I can bring to the role as regional county representative. First, I am 59 years old and live in Memphis, TN. I grew up in Pennsylvania and, upon the death of my father in 1996, became engaged in genealogy and family history. With a doctorate in American history from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh and several other earned degrees, I found the challenge of organizing and, in many cases actually writing, the history of Sullivan County to be a familiar and rewarding one. Also, as the author or editor of three published books and several articles, the creation of history was both natural and understandable.

It also helps that my lovely wife of 32 years, Lynn Franklin, is one of the foremost genealogists of western Tennessee and has the same passion for old records, collection of anecdotal and formal history and records preservation. Just in the last two weeks, we spent a day each at the Library of Congress and National Archives in Washington, DC, and then an entire day transcribing two old cemeteries in Carroll County, Tennessee. Yes, we spent Memorial Day on our hands and knees rubbing crayons on paper in an old graveyard. Sound familiar to any of you other county coordinators?

I have been fortunate in my professional life, so that we are fairly well off and can devote our time and attention to genealogy and history without the necessity of trying to make a living from it. I am the CEO of a medical publishing company, Challenger Corporation, and therefore have an ongoing involvement with issues of intellectual property, copyrights, protection of the rights of content authors and contributors and so forth. I believe that my experience and expertise in this area could be of invaluable assistance to any county coordinator wanting to create a reliable, defensible and fair copyright and intellectual relationship with his or her contributors and with the Project. My wife and I also make a habit of monitoring eBay, where we periodically buy items of interest, conserve them, and then donate them to the local historical society and museum in Sullivan County. Here is an example of one such activity: The Family Bible of Jacob and Percival Wentzel.

I have also served as a speaker, faculty, or consultant to a vairety of profit and non-profit organizations from Norway to California. In addition, I was a retained expert witness on the corporate practice of medicine to the Catholic hospital association in California. These functions all require an ability to get along with a variety of people of different types and temperaments, to be flexible, and to have above average writing and organizational skills. A copy of my professional resume is available on request to anyone eligible to vote in this election.

One other item of relevance--I can read and translate Latin, French and Spanish, and have access through our contributor network to fluent translation skills in German as well. We have often used these competencies to translate or make sense of old records, most recently in creating a translation of the original German reocrds of the founding Lutheran community in our county. You can see what I am talking about at Old Zion and Peace Church: The Founders.

So, what can I bring to the Project that is distinctive:

*Expert training in historical research
*Expert advice on how to gain access to and use archives, libraries and museum collections
*How to attract, organize and incentivize local contributors and participants in your county project
*Creation and use of photo assemblies--here is one example: Helen Hottenstein's Picture Collection
*Expert advice on copyright and intellectual property issues
*Development of useful and relevant links to and from your site to other resources
*How to collect and organize oral histories and post them to your site

My concept of the role of regional county representative is to be an ombudsman for each of you, and to offer to county and state coordinators my advice and experience as outlined above. Of course, we all stand to learn a lot from each other as well. My goal would be to serve in this position for no more than two terms [that is if you were to elect and then re-elect me]. Unlike our national politicians in Washington, DC, I don't see serving in an elected role as a "career opportunity". There are too many other qualified and intelligent folks out there, and we all suffer when we don't share the opportunity to serve and contribute around.

Thank you for your consideration.

Bob Sweeney
June 9, 2005