Monday, August 16, 2010

Society Membership Incentive - Free Research Hour

In preparing for my trip to Williamsport, Pennsylvania to visit family, I made a list of graves to find, books to check and repositories to find. I knew I would not have time for all the possible archives. Although half of my family comes from the Lycoming county area (actually all my grandparents have ties to the region, but that's another story), I had not joined the Lycoming County Genealogical Society. One of the main reasons was that their membership runs from January to December and I always think to join in the summer.

Many societies run their membership on a yearly basis. I really dislike this way. If I join 6 months into the society's membership year, I shouldn't have to pay the full membership fee. I understand why small societies need to have a membership year; it's so much easier for accounting purposes. But that doesn't mean that I find it fair. Usually I will just wait until the next membership year starts to join the society (or just forget about it because most of my memberships start in January and that's a lot of money to drop at one time).

But the Lycoming County Genealogical Society did something that I think is great. Although they have a membership year of January to December, they found a way to make their membership attractive to prospective members in the summer months. This summer they are offering one FREE research hour. That makes me feel like I'm getting a much better deal from joining a society at full price for just 4 months.

Since I knew I wouldn't be able to visit their genealogy library on my trip, I decided to join the society and make use of my free research hour. I found on their site a list of naturalization records that they hold. (So far they only have it updated with the first half of the alphabet, but that is okay because that's where my Lycoming ancestors are.) And guess who I found on that list? My Valentine!!!

So I placed my membership order online and sent the society an email with my request. And then I waited. And waited. And waited. I had to wait a whole 5 hours. Then I received an email with scanned images of all the naturalization records that I requested. Great service!

Here is the Declaration of Intent for Valentine Blitz:

If your society uses the membership year to make keeping track of member dues easier, consider doing something to entice prospective members who find your society late in the year. I'm glad that I joined this new society and found my ancestors.

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