Why Serve on a Genealogical or Historical Society Board

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” ~~ Helen Keller

Genealogical and historical societies are not casual entities. Like many other groups, clubs, or associations, genealogical and historical societies bring together a wide variety of personalities, backgrounds, specific interests and skills, all related to one topic. The simple act of a holding a society meeting takes planning and execution of so many aspects — where and when to meet to developing and executing an engaging program that makes participants’ efforts to be there worthwhile. All of that is after the work of creating a society has been done — establishing a mission, writing by-laws, and a myriad of other tasks to be “official”.

Are you currently a member of a genealogical and/or historical society or want to be? What draws you to that type of association? In what ways do you participate? Have you ever had ideas about how things could be done better or differently? Maybe you have never wanted to participate or even considered participating at the level of a society officer or board member. Maybe you are a society member because you are very interested in the topic of genealogy and the activities, but do not have time to commit to “extra” involvement. Or perhaps you believe you do not have the skills needed to serve on a board.

Many years ago, I joined a genealogical society as I was very interested in learning how to improve my research skills and to network with other genealogists. I enjoyed meetings and wanted to contribute, but was terrified and felt totally out of my depth and comfort zone. However, I learned quickly that I was among friends and like-minded individuals. I learned a great deal about genealogy while serving as a Recording Secretary. I established relationships, gained mentors, improved skills, and contributed the occasional good idea. I worked with a group of people with whom I shared a common interest and I contributed to the improvement of the quality of activities — all because I had a different perspective to contribute to the wealth of experience, knowledge and other perspectives.

That is, in part, what serving on a society board should be about and can be with the right set of people. If you can spare the “extra” time, please take your skills and desires, and even your fears and concerns, and offer them to your board when there is an opportunity to be involved.

Especially if you live in Mississippi — because we have openings.