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A Local Genealogical Society Faces Big Changes

Since the early 1990’s I have belonged to the Colorado Genealogical Society (CGS). I have seen them through many changes in format and meeting place over the years, and now some changes are afoot again. Genealogical societies must continue to evolve in order to survive.

When I first joined, the group met on Friday evenings at a Methodist church building in south Denver. It was not too far for me to drive, and an evening meeting suited my schedule. Thus I joined this club instead of one closer to home. I soon became involved in the society by serving as Recording Secretary and Vice-President. I learned a great deal about genealogy through the fine speakers the club hosted each month.

Shortly before I joined, the club had formed a sub-group of people who were interested in doing genealogy in a new way, on computers. They called themselves the Computer Interest Group, or CIG. This group met on a different night and offered speakers and classes on genealogy-related technology topics. They also held workshops on various software products. One year, I won a free membership to CIG and began attending those meetings, too.

CGS and CIG have run in parallel since then. Both had monthly meetings and elected full slates of officers. Both ran yearly seminars and put out newsletters. As their meeting place needs changed, together they left the Methodist church for the Glendale Community Center, then a Lutheran church, then the Denver Public Library. The last move required a change in meeting time from Friday evenings to Saturday mornings for CGS followed by Saturday afternoons for CIG. Through it all, the world around us was changing, too.

As computerized genealogy became the norm, there has been ongoing talk of merging the groups. The missions of the two no longer seemed so different. A few years ago, they took a first step by joining forces to run one joint seminar a year instead of holding separate events.

This week I received a message from CGS proposing additional changes. A meeting of the membership to discuss the issue will take place this coming Saturday night.

They have several ideas and are looking for more. Should they combine newsletters and websites? As volunteers get more difficult to recruit, should CIG eliminate its officers in favor of a Leadership Chairman? Should CIG eliminate its dues?

I may submit some written comments, but I will not attend the special meeting. When the clubs moved to Saturday meetings at Denver Public Library, I stopped going. I have other commitments on Saturdays, and I do not relish paying to park downtown for a routine genealogy meeting.

Although I remain a CGS member, I dropped my CIG membership and joined my local Highlands Ranch Genealogical Society instead. CIG has been a great club that filled a need as the electronic age began, but it seems to be struggling now. The members must decide its fate. Perhaps it is time to merge into its mother organization, the Colorado Genealogical Society.


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