Sunday, January 11, 2009

Random Thoughts: Local Societies and the Internet

I’ve been busy this weekend preparing a new brochure for the historical society. This new brochure (600 kb PDF file) promotes the society’s online presence – While preparing this special publication I started thinking about how important the Internet is for local historical and genealogical societies.

I’ve always had strong feelings about the local genealogical or historical society taking advantage of new technology and thanks to a progressive board of directors, the Itawamba Historical Society has been online for more than nine years.

To me, a society that does not embrace the Internet, is simply a society that could be living on borrowed time. According to most statistics, today’s researcher spends a great deal of time online. Years ago the only avenue societies had for reaching the researcher was through their print magazines, advertisements in print publications and word of mouth. Times have changed, and societies must change with those times. Today the Internet has made it possible for many societies to reach the researching public at a very low cost, if any cost at all.

The Internet also affords the society an easy and cost-effective way to promote local history and genealogy through the distribution of research material relating to the local area they serve. The Itawamba Historical Society takes advantage of this with its Online Archives area where a vast amount of local records have been published over the years. And there are plans for more enhancements to the Online Archives with the addition of more digital images of local source documents that will supplement the society’s quarterly membership journal – Itawamba Settlers.

Of course local societies depend upon membership dues and donations in order to survive, but the Internet makes it possible to reach many potential new members. The Itawamba Historical Society has been blessed with the generosity shown by researchers over the past 27 years and the society uses its Internet presence to give back to the research community through the publication of local history and genealogy – all free of charge. Simply put, membership dues and donations make this possible as well as the operation of our Itawamba County, Mississippi facilities - Historic Bonds House Museum, The Gaither Spradling Library and the George Poteet History Center.

It has been written that local history organizations are the keepers and tellers of America’s heritage and history in cities and towns across the land. Please help the Itawamba Historical Society continue to keep and tell the wonderful history and heritage of Itawamba County, Mississippi through your membership dues and donations.


Anonymous said...

I have donated a computer to the society, but it was one that is out of date someone gave me. It might not be fixable, so I keep my eyes on anything that we might need in technology. Now with the introduction of DSL, the society could offer more in on site research to those who visit the library in Mantatchie. It would be nice if we could set up a computer and have enough money in our budget to subscribe to or other geneological societies. The internet has been a most wonderful tool!

Bob Franks said...

Your donation is appreciated Oliver. We also just recently added new donated shelving in the library in order to display more genealogical quarterlies we receive. With utilities, insurance, printing and postage, it seems we are always in dire need of something, but thanks to those who donate like you, we always manage to get by.

Mona Robinson Mills said...

Bob, the more time I spend researching other county's genealogical offerings online, the more appreciative I am of my own county. The Society has done a wonderful job of keeping current with technology. Kudos!