Splitting our Historian 1: People

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

Corresponding Historian

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

Nathan Hale, one of our Notable Kin

Nathan Hale, one of our 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.

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