Monday, June 9, 2014

Next Gen:
A Quest in More Ways Than One

The concept I call "Passing It On" has always been important to me. No matter how simple the story of our ancestors' lives, their experiences can carry powerful messages for us. Whether we learn to glean the kernels of value from those tales, we do need to pass them on to future generations, if they are to be preserved at all. We are the keepers of those treasures, if only as our temporary duty.

There is another form of "Passing It On" to consider, a thought capably amplified at last weekend's Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree. Rather than only passing on the content of our family stories, we need to devise ways to pass on the process of gathering those family stories as well. We need to not only encourage the telling of those stories; we need to promote the new tellers of those stories.

There were several conference speakers at Jamboree serving as advocates for that position, and I heartily agree with them. I see this as a vital form of succession planning. As much as we might wish, we will not be here forever, having the luxury of time to spin these wonderful yarns about our family heritage. Someone, someday, will need to fill our shoes.

How do we encourage these people?

How do we find these people?

Perhaps the next generation of keepers of the family heritage are not yet even aware of the role they will someday assume. How do we reach them? How do we encourage them to see the task as one as precious as we have envisioned it?

This topic was evidently a touchstone for many in attendance at the Jamboree sessions exploring this topic. It certainly was a topic that generated much energetic conversation. This is a good sign.

Not only did the topic garner interest, but it has seen key people take action and create the infrastructure to help address the issue. You may have become aware, over the past year, of the Facebook group dubbed "The NextGen Genealogy Network." Taking it to the next level, the principals of this endeavor have developed a website and formalized their organization. They are encouraging those who agree with their mission to support them through your membership.

Hopefully, a sign like this is an indicator that this topic will be picked up at many more such gatherings of genealogists. We certainly need it to be. We may be the only ones so handily positioned to serve as catalysts between those who've gone on before and those not yet even aware of the need to step in and serve as the keepers of tomorrow's family micro-histories.

As much as we shouldn't let those stories of our heritage disappear into extinction, we can't afford to let the opportunities to encourage a new generation of genealogists and family historians slip through our fingers.

I'd say there were a few speakers with foresight at Jamboree who lit the torch and called us to this mission. Let's grab that torch and run with it.


  1. Thanks, Jacqi, for sharing your thoughts! It will be great to have you aboard NGGN!

    1. I'm so looking forward to it, Melanie! If there is any topic in genealogy that energizes me, it is this one. So glad to see NGGN putting their collective talents to this task. Lots of resonance here.

  2. I just wanted to let you know that I was here and that I enjoy your blog. Thank you for the hard work you have put into it.

    1. Thanks, Laurie, for stopping by and commenting. You wouldn't be related to the Kelley family I'm researching, would you???

  3. Hi Jacqi,

    Melanie sent me to you. I am the Publications Chair for NGGN, and was wondering if you would be willing to have us publish this blog post as an article in our newsletter, the NextGen Dispatch. Will you please drop me a line at


  4. Ah I think you are getting famous! I have discovered that either family members are interested in the puzzle and the search or they are not...once they have the bug they have it..but if they don't they just don't. I have a daughter that is interested IF she had more time.

  5. I think I have a nephew that might be interested... It is a wait and see thing -- I hope it isn't a "waited to long" thing!


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