Sunday, July 19, 2020

Zooming Along

Not that anyone has been counting, but today marks exactly four months since our state's governor issued a stay-at-home order on account of the current pandemic. While at first, everything seemed to grind to a stand-still, we have somehow managed to eke out an existence in the time beyond that date. Small businesses may have been crashing down around us, and people of all ages whom we've been surprised to lose have succumbed to the disease, but somehow, the rest of us have learned to adjust to what people dub "the new normal."

Part of that new normal has brought unexpected results. Some of us have put on our COVID-19 nineteen pounds, either from stress eating or binge-watching old videos. Others of us have lost our COVID-19 nineteen pounds, while we have simultaneously worn out the family pet by using Fido as an excuse to get outside in the sunshine. Some people have been so inventive in this new quarantine season that, looking at the freeway traffic, it would be hard to realize we are still hiding from an unbeatable germ.

One of those small and unexpected pandemic side effects has been a renewed interest in genealogy. After all, people have to have something to fill up all that time previously swallowed up by ninety-minute commutes. Perhaps the lure of the multitude of free genealogy webinars which have been showered down upon us has been the instigator. Who knows—but along with the shift away from public meetings has come a clamoring for ways for local genealogy groups to get together online.

Our local genealogical society made the jump to online meetings within the first month. At first, the thought seemed so beyond us—genealogy society members are not usually at the leading edge of tech innovations. But as one person recently put it, using one of the online options—Zoom—is so user friendly. How could we not make use of this technology?

And so, every month, we've migrated to an online venue for our society meetings. And then, when members seemed interested in having even more, we added special interest groups to explore specialized topics. And then added a mid-month discussion group, too—even in the summer, when our society customarily takes a two-month break from all activities.

The motivation to connect now is stronger than ever. One member told me recently that her life has been like a "flat tire" since COVID-19. Whatever our society offers, she will be there for it. It is something to do, especially for those who still need to physically remain isolated. Though we can't connect face to face, people still need a way to reach out and be in touch. That has been what has boosted this phenomenal growth in video conferencing use: we are social beings. We need to connect.

Did you ever expect a genealogical society to be the one to throw out a lifeline?


  1. The opportunities to connect are magic. In the past few weeks I have joined genealogy societies in CA and western PA, places I would not be able to attend in person meetings. Now with Zoom I can attend regular meetings and SIGs and connect with persons who share my passion for family history. Thanks for highlighting this valuable opportunity.

    1. That's exactly it, Janet: I've heard others mention that benefit of expanded accessibility, too. One fellow Society president in California mentioned to me that she joined a society in her ancestors' Bergen County, New Jersey, precisely because they now offer Zoom meetings. (It would be a rough commute, otherwise!)

      For the societies willing to try this new venue, it will become a great outreach tool.


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