BIGS Business

BIGS Business

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Notes from the President

Last December, I inherited a box of memorabilia saved by my grandmother, who died in rural Missouri in 1955 when I was a senior in high school. Having never met this woman, this find was a family historian’s dream. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been reading her several diaries, written from 1933 through 1954.

Most of the entries are rather mundane, dealing with the weather, how she and my grandfather were feeling, who was visiting, etc. Nevertheless, they have provided me with some important insights into what her life was like.

I was reminded how hard people like her had to work, even in their 80’s, and how primitive the health systems were. “Painless” dentistry didn’t exist. The census would describe my grandmother as “keeping house.” What this meant for her was preparing all the meals, cleaning the house, washing and mending clothes, doing all the shopping, etc. When she died in 1955, television was just beginning to take over our lives, the interstate highway system was being built, and landlines were the only form of telephones. Think of how the world has changed since she was born in 1873.

And think of how the world has changed since 1955, and continues to change at an ever increasing pace. If a person was interested in genealogy in my grandmother’s time, they went to their local library or perhaps their local genealogy or historical society for help and they wrote lots of letters to request information from a wide variety of sources. That’s rarely the case today. Most genealogy newcomers are introduced to the discipline through online services like Ancestry or 23andMe. Many seem to find the answers they were seeking in a matter of weeks or months, and they are apparently finished with their family history. Of course, they don’t know what they don’t know.

At our board meeting in May, we discussed an excellent presentation, “The Future of Local Societies” by Joshua Taylor, sponsored by the Washington State Genealogical Society. It provided many ideas about how genealogy groups like ours will need to be open to changing the way we do business as the world in which we live continues to evolve.

One of the key ideas in the presentation is that we can’t expect future members to come to us; rather, we’ll have to go to them. And that’s a significant change from the way the world worked when my grandmother was writing in her diaries. That’s why we have upped our outreach efforts and recently took our TreeBuilder program to the Poulsbo Public Library. Providing genealogy education is one of the bedrock principles of BIGS, and one that will continue to inform the work of your board as we contemplate the future.

Larry Noedel

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What makes these BIGS members so Happy?

No one said anything funny. These aren’t, “Smile for the camera smiles.” That’s simply what it felt like to have told our family stories and learned that their significance was appreciated by our audience, the Bainbridge Island Women’s ClubOn Thursday, March 21, Holly Ardinger, Betty Wiese, Susie Wood and I represented BIGS at their monthly meeting.

We presented our “Why Genealogy?” program. This program involves a team of four members each answering the question “Why Genealogy?” with some of their own brief family stories, and ends with an invitation to join the genealogy fun and get some help from BIGS. From beginning to end, the entire presentation runs about one half-hour.

Our audience of 55 women was quite interested in our little talk. And, there was a warm and lively Q&A period afterward. We had created an outreach handout to use in our TreeBuilder coaching sessions and offered it on this occasion. (A family tree form on one side and tips about how to get started on the other.) We were quite pleased to find that 14 members of the audience left with one.

We can put that smile on your face too. We know that you have some amazing family stories. Pick one or two that show why you love genealogy and come along the next time we share stories with the world outside BIGS. 

If you would like to explore joining our team please contact Susie Wood. She can tell you more about what is expected of participants in this or our other community outreach efforts, each designed to promote genealogy and let folks know who we are and what we offer.

Finally, if you belong to an organization on Bainbridge or North Kitsap that you think might be interested in having us present our Why Genealogy? program, please let me know. As we say in our presentation: “Why Genealogy? It’s all about discovering those family stories.” Let’s add yours to our mix!

Larry Noedel

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A Visit to the Suquamish Museum

Earlier this month, five members of the BIGS Board had the opportunity to tour the Suquamish Museum, with Museum Director Lisa Jackson acting as our tour guide. As Lisa shared with us the museum displays, she also treated us to stories of the Suquamish people – their struggles and accomplishments. We let her know right off that we were all amateur genealogists with a love of family history, and she willingly obliged us. She shared how the tribe is collecting elder stories, historic artifacts, and safeguarding their Lushootseed language. We learned why the Port Madison reservation is a patchwork of tribal and non-tribal held land, where last names came from, how membership is determined by blood quantum and much more. It was a wonderful journey through the history, culture and art of the Suquamish people, just as their website promises!

After our delightful experience at the museum, Betty Wiese, our Education Chair, quickly reached out to see if we could arrange for Lisa Jackson to give a presentation to BIGS. And, I am happy to report that Lisa has agreed to speak to us on the third Friday in November. Our plan is to have a hybrid presentation, with Lisa at the Bainbridge Library. You will definitely want to attend this opportunity to learn more about the first people of the land we all now call home.

Andy Hoskins, President

Docent
Lisa Jackson, Director of the Suquamish Museum
BIGS at Ququamish
Betty Wiese, Susie Wood, Ann Eklund, Larry Noedel, and Andy Hoskins

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Would You Like Some One-On-One Help?

As a BIGS member, you are eligible for a “consultation” with an experienced member about a genealogy problem or issue. For example, you might want a coach to review your work to offer ideas on next steps or to review your conclusions to see if they make sense. You might want help deciding whether or not to do a DNA test and which one is best suited for you. You might want help analyzing DNA matches to identify next steps.

To ask for help, simply contact Education Chair Betty Wiese (bettywiese@comcast.net) to start the process. You and your “coach/mentor” will work out when and where to meet. Most consultations last 1 ½-2 hours, perhaps with some follow up.

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MEET YOUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS

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