by Sherry Stocking Kline
January 14th, 2009
Yes, I’d be glad to…?
When someone asks for my help I tend to say “yes, I’d be glad to…” though frankly in the last couple of years I’ve had to learn how to say “I’d love to, but I just can’t.” With only 24 hours in a day, no matter how I try to stretch it there needs to be time to sleep in there somewhere.
Possibly the most important ‘job’ I volunteer to do as Vice President of the Sumner County (Kansas) Historical and Genealogical Society is to find speakers that are interesting, informative, and that reflect county, state, national, and sometimes international history. And an important part of that is to try to find speakers that will attract new people into our group so that it will grow.
The Lord provides…
Finding fascinating people who will ‘speak for their dinner,’ even at a steak house, isn’t always easy but when our members ask me how I do it I usually answer “The Lord provides…” Once, during a casual conversation standing in line at Wal-mart I met a talented woman who just happened to be a Native American speaker. Several months later she brought us a very interesting informative program.
In November 2009, Tuskegee Airman Major George Boyd shared his fascinating story with us, and this week I will connect with our speaker, Jim Baumgardner, author of the historical children’s fiction “Sarah” books, interview him, write a press release, and send it out to eight newspapers, two cable television stations, one radio station, and so many people by e-mail that my internet provider threatens to shut me down for spamming.
This summer, on June 19th in Wellington, Kansas, our county will host the Kansas Council of Genealogical Society meeting, (you’re invited!) and we’re working to prepare and promote that already.
Video-Tape the Gen Society meetings….
About a year ago, I started video-taping the SCHGS programs with my camcorder and our city’s cable station re-plays most of our programs on the local channel in the months following. My goal is to have a library of DVD’s that members can check out and re-watch, and that we can share with elderly members who can no longer attend meetings. (this is something that I think other societies might be interested in trying to do!)
Transcribed Cemetery Information…
In 2003, my husband and I walked a (small?) cemetery of several hundred people, transcribed the stone information, entered it into a database, and shared the information locally with the SCHGS Center as well as published it in “Mayfield: Then & Now” a small-town history book that I co-authored with Elaine Clark. I plan to re-walk the cemetery this year to make new additions, and take photographs of some or all of the stones while there. And I try (but fail miserably) to share all the tombstone photographs that I take with www.deadFred.com.
Because my name is in the paper often, and because I like to help others research and preserve their family history I get phone calls out of the blue asking for help.
I get to meet fascinating people…
How many hours do I volunteer each month? It varies, but more than I have time for and less than I’d like to. But when we get photographs and memorabilia back where it belongs, locate tombstone(s), farmsteads, historic bridges, or the reporter finds info about the old one-room schoolhouse that he needs to polish up an article, it’s all worthwhile.
The most rewarding part for me is that I get to meet, interview, and get acquainted with some very interesting people and hear some fascinating and little-known family and historical stories. I get a sense of satisfaction knowing that I’ve helped preserve (and possibly share) another small piece of history.
As someone I interviewed a few years back about photograph preservation told me:
“The best you can do is to preserve it so the next generation can preserve it again…”