The role of Historian is too much for any single person. We have volunteers available, but nobody wants to take on everything. Nor should they!
As you perhaps take on a small role, time permitting, matching your interests, your small help becomes an important part of the whole. Let’s take a look.
The Corresponding Historian
I see this as the most important role of all over the next few years. What we need is a “people person” who loves to have conversations! We’re not looking for a genealogical expert. We don’t need this person to research inquiries, do look-ups, check through the archives. As you’ll see, we have other people for that!
What we need is someone to keep the conversation going. Think about it. Remember when you were first starting out and discovered a possible connection to the Strong Family Association of America. You perhaps needed some guidance. In my case, the connection was to Strong Updates Volume III. More importantly, my connection was to Dr. Walther Barnard, also of the Sarah (Strong) Barnard line.
Our Corresponding Historian’s role, then, is to connect people to people. Our Corresponding Historian is the face of the Association for things genealogical, in the same way as is our Corresponding Secretary for everything else.
When things come down to actual research, a specific inquiry, etc., our Corresponding Historian can hand the question over to one of our researchers. Because our Corresponding Historian is also keeping in touch with our researchers, our Corresponding Historian will know who’s the best available person to take on the inquiry. Our Corresponding Historian will still be responsible for ensuring follow-ups happen as expected.
We often receive a vague inquiry, something like “My grandfather was George Strong. Are we related?” Without a bit more information, or even the relative age of the person asking the question, that’s not something we can answer! That’s where our Corresponding Historian takes up the question. Ask more questions. When we have a concrete inquiry (specific names, family members, dates prior to 1920 or so, etc.), we can hand it off to one of our researchers.
Remember that My grandfather was George Strong. Are we related? is an absolutely reasonable question for a beginner! Our Corresponding Historian needs to be both patient and helpful!
People contact us through many different routes. For example:
- A comment on the Web site which is really a historian inquiry
- A question addressed to the Corresponding Secretary, Treasurer, Book Coordinator, President, District Officer, etc.
- One of the Web site “Contact Us” forms; the message might go to President, Newsletter Editor, Historian, Webmaster, etc.
- Email to any of us, text message, phone call, Facebook post or response, etc.
- The membership form or other correspondence with our Corresponding Secretary
No matter who receives the contact, we hand off the contact to our Corresponding Historian. Our Corresponding Historian takes it from there!
The key skill here is correspondence, with the basic genealogical experience that all of us have. Our Corresponding Historian has complete access to our Officers, Directors, and other interested persons for help, guidance, and advice. We have volunteers available to take on the actual research and inquiries, but we’re counting on our Corresponding Historian to sort things down to a concrete question or questions which can be researched.
The Research Historians
This role can be as large or as small as each volunteer cares to make it! When the correspondence comes down to actual research or information lookup, our Corresponding Historian hands it off to the appropriate Research Historian. We have a number of people willing to do the research and answer specific inquiries as time permits. What we do not have, yet, is the Corresponding Historian to stay on top of the correspondence.
I expect that our various Research Historians might specialize. For example, I specialize in the Sarah line, meaning descendants of Sarah (Strong, Barnard) Wells, daughter of Elder John Strong and Abigail (Ford) Strong. Others might specialize in the Jedediah, Mary, or John Strong Jr. Line. Still others might be happy with any sort of general inquiries, and indeed might prefer working with beginners and providing some basic guidance. Others might limit themselves to looking up what’s in our published books.
If we have our Corresponding Historian who knows what’s happening, he or she will know who’s available for taking on the next inquiry. Our Corresponding Historian is also responsible for ensuring we don’t “drop the ball” with any particular person. We are all responsible, of course, for keeping our Corresponding Historian “in the loop” on all things historical and genealogical.
The Finder of Notable Kin
One of the most popular features of the Strong Family Association is the Notable Kin articles. Whenever I do something similar on my Facebook page, I get enthusiastic response from my relations. Most of the Notable Kin articles were written by the late Dr. Walther Barnard.
I have lists of around 100 different Notable Kin suitable for such articles. Many tens of thousands of books from the 1600s-1900s have now been digitized and placed on line for free. Just using the online resources available today, it’s possible to write interesting new Notable Kin articles and their connection to each of us.
Depending on your interest, you might want to turn these into Wikipedia articles online, publish them on our Web site, and of course in our Members Newsletter.
What if you consider your own grandmother to be your Notable Kin even though she is not famous? There is absolutely no reason you can’t write an article similar to the Notable Kin series. We’d like to know about her. If you’re so inclined, create a Wikipedia article as well!
This is an example of taking on part of the Historian role without taking on “too much.” We could gladly take on any number of Finders of Notable Kin. You have fun, with an avid ready-made readership waiting for what you write.
If you enjoy writing, for example, this role carries a huge benefit to the SFAA, because the Notable Kin articles are so popular and enduring. Thanks to the online resources available today, we can make the articles more interesting with photographs, maps, links for additional reading, and so on. In short you become an ambassador for the SFAA.