Is it time for a virtual genealogy society?

From all indications, RootsTech was a big success. I was one of the people taking advantage of the presentations broadcast online when I could. And, like the majority of virtual attendees at yesterday afternoon’s Virtual Presentations Roundtable, I think there’s enough “virtual audience” to support including them in other conferences.

While I see a good number of vibrant local genealogical societies as the online genea-community grows, I’m not lucky enough to have a functional society nearby. Yesterday I discovered that I’m not alone. Could it also be time for a virtual genealogy society?

Obviously the first benefit of this society would be to provide the online meeting/webinar platform needed to support the group. With the society providing the financial support, there would be a high-performance platform available and meeting/presentation moderators providing the technical support speakers need. It could also support the development of new speakers to help expand members’ research and technical skills.

Other possibilities could include:

  • By taking advantage of collaborative technologies like Facebook and WeRelate, a virtual society could sponsor research groups sharing information on any number of subjects. Because membership would have worldwide reach, this offers all kinds of opportunities.
  • In the publications area, not only could the society support newsletters and journals, but possibly a peer review group to encourage members in their writing and publishing efforts.
  • Support open source archives and collaboration platforms – like Internet Archive and WeRelate – with digitizing, transcribing and administration projects.
  • Not all online events have to be formal. The society could offer online functions similar to Miriam’s delightful scanfest. Regional members can organize meetups for a bit of face-to-face fun.

These are just a few random thoughts and ideas to get a conversation going. Is anyone else interested in pursuing the idea? If you have something to say, the conversation is getting started on the Moultrie Creek page at Facebook.

12 thoughts on “Is it time for a virtual genealogy society?

  1. Bart Brenner

    Great idea! My genealogical society membership is not necessarily related to my residential location, but more closely related to my research interests. I would welcome a virtual society as well. One other advantage that you allude to would be that such a virtual society could be an advocate for increasing “virtual” presence at conferences such as RootsTech or Family History Expos or … In recent months I have seen a number of genealogy conference speakers make their services available “virtually” to local societies. It is obvious that online genealogy continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Your suggestion is spot on!


  2. I love this idea! I have a great local genealogy society, but I’ll never take it for granted. Having a “virtual group” would be an additional resource even for people who have a good local society.


  3. I think this is a wonderful idea! I “attended” several of the virtual RootsTech sessions and got a lot out of them. I really appreciated being able to hear Curt Witcher speak even though I wasn’t able to be in Salt Lake. I think your idea of a virtual society is a logical next step. Let me know where I can sign up 🙂


  4. A virtual society seems like a good idea for discussion. As a member of a local society working to avoid the dreaded demise of so many local societies, I wonder if a large virtual society (not geographically based) might not have as one of its goals the providing training, programs, collaboration, and other resources so hard to come by in local societies.


  5. I like the idea of a virtual society too! What about another thought though? Could a group like the National Genealogical Society establish a virtual branch? Seems like they have the resources to pull something like this off?


  6. I’ve been doing family history for 20 years and honestly have never belonged to a genealogical society….or even considered it. However, I would absolutely be interested in a virtual society because of the ease of accessibility. I don’t know what traditional societies charge for dues, but I would imagine a virtual society could do more with much less. No travel costs for presenters, limited publishing costs, etc. I’m not really sure it would take the resources of a large organization to pull something like this off, just the support of enough interested researchers.


  7. Yes, I think the time is now. And the tools necessary to accomplish such a society improve with every day.

    The Graveyard Rabbits, Terry Thornton’s dream of a virtual association, does exist. While yet to take advantage of all the wonderful improvements made in the last year it is a beginning.

    We find people are very interested in the format.

    Magazines and newspapers have digital only editions. Yes, I think the time is now.



  8. YES, and just think of the voice such a society might have for collaboration, networking, and learning.

    My question via Dear Myrt at the RootsTech roundtable regarding online participation for a fee got a bit sidetracked into the webinar discussion, but it started on the Twitter stream as a thought that the online participation at RootsTech showed real force. Wouldn’t it be great if conferences like Roots Tech offered a “virtual registration” so that those who couldn’t attend in person could attend virtual sessions, webinars, etc., of course for an online fee. This might motivate event planners to put more sessions online as well. Imagine the possibilities!


  9. Amen, and amen! While there were obviously a large number of geneabloggers in attendance at RootsTech, some of us could not attend, and even a small majority like myself have been so busy we could not watch the live online presentations. I think it’s high time we bring to life Terry’s dream.

    And BTW, Denise, thanks for the shout out about Scanfest. The next one will be held on Sunday, February 27th from 11 AM to 2 PM, PST.


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