International Institute of Genealogical Studies


International Institute of Genealogical Studies - LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

Writing as Volunteer Work

By Shannon Combs Bennett, Student

Like many genealogists, I have a service heart. I like giving back to the community and helping others in any way that I can. Which is why I think that Module 4 of the course Writing for Genealogy: Articles, Blogs, Research Reports and so much more was a very important one.  This module covered how to write for societies and ways writing can give back to the genealogy community.  Let’s face it, sometimes it is easier to write if you are volunteering than if you are trying to actually work for yourself.

Mary Pickford at writing desk. Library of Congress. LC-DIG-ppmsca-18840

Mary Pickford at writing desk. Library of Congress. LC-DIG-ppmsca-18840

Like me, you may be involved with a genealogy society.  If not now maybe you will be in the future. After a while of being a “regular” at meetings you might find that some of the members want you to take on responsibilities.  Trust me, it happens.  That is why I loved that the course author, Jennifer Holik  discussed  ways to write for societies.

She covered president’s reports and secretary responsibilities, but I had hoped she would write even more about newsletters.  The secretary section covered a lot of the items a newsletter should have, but I think that working on a newsletter is one way people can really get their writing feet wet.  It is much less intimidating to write for a local newsletter than to try your hand at a large publication.  Trust me!

Of course we couldn’t have a post about volunteer writing and not cover indexing projects.  They are easy, fun, and essential for future generations.  I helped out with the 1940 US Census project as an Ambassador and indexer.  It was a great project, and similar ones are happening now, not only through national organizations but on the local level.

Many people are nervous about doing indexing or transcription projects.  I think this is a great way to not only give back but also to hone your skills. Oh, and get to know your area better. If you are a new transplant to your area, projects like these help you learn about the local records and make friends at repositories.

Once again, as with all skills, the more you do the better you get.  Jennifer includes guides on how to get started indexing, resources to read so they are not frightening, and suggestions on how to start your own project.  She sets it up nicely so when you have that inspiration you are ready to start.  Which was great, but had me making a list of potential projects for myself, friends, and genealogy society.

The last suggestion, which I think tends to freak a lot of people out, was on submitting pieces to contests. If you are self-critical, shy, or simply unsure of your work this might seem like something that you would never do. Jennifer takes the time to walk you through the different types of contests, how to find others, and a simple checklist of things to do.

I was nearly sick to my stomach when I submitted my first piece to a competition. Nerves were on edge and I was petrified about being told it was horrible.  While I didn’t win that competition, the feedback was invaluable and what I needed to grow as a writer. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and take that plunge!

Okay on to the next set of modules.

See you online!


Category: Courses

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