The following article is by Ralph and Linda Miller, who are Area Advisers in New England. LIke many of us, they are concerned about FHC attendance! Here are their suggestions.
“Some people wonder whether family history centers are still needed when so much information is available on the internet. Actually, family history centers are more important than ever. In addition to special resources, they offer one-on-one help, a friendly hand that can help sort out the myriad of data and help them map a path and a plan.
Family History Center usage is low in our region – especially by LDS church members. Some FHC workers or leaders assume that if the people aren’t coming to the center, it is because they are working at home. But this is generally not the case. Why? Because they don’t know what to do, either at home or at the family history center.
So show them. Many people don’t visit because they don’t have (a) a specific invitation, and (b) an agenda. Give them a specific invitation for a specific time, and let them know that they aren’t responsible for figuring out what to do when they get there. That’s what you want to show them.
As a beginning point, schedule ward council members (one at a time or with their family) to come to the family history center. Family history is a tool that can help the ward council accomplish its goals for the ward. To be effective, ward council members need to understand what the family history center offers and how it feels to go there.
What do you do with them while they are there? Your family history center staff may want to develop a sample agenda that can be used for visits. Brainstorm together to come up with a simple, brief introduction that helps members understand how to begin their family history. You may want to include an introductory video or two. In addition to technical information, don’t forget the video clips available on the DVD that can be used for the Family History Course. These clips bring the spirit and give a doctrinal foundation. You don’t need to show all the clips – select one or two.
Once you come up with one agenda, you may want to develop one or more follow-up agendas. An agenda for non-members might be useful as well. This could include an overview of resources as well as a brief explanation of why family history is important and interesting.
Some suggested things to consider for an introductory visit:
- Have them sign in to NFS. If they haven’t already registered, help them register.
- In NFS, have them look at “see me and my ancestors.” Does their family pedigree extend back? Or do they need to link some people in? If so, help them link some ancestors so the family pedigree is more complete. If they don’t have the information with them, make a note so you can schedule a follow up visit with them.
- If there are blanks, show them resources available in the Family History Center Portal that can help them. For instance, see if they can find an ancestor’s family in www.ancestry.com (for example, in the census).
- If they aren’t interested or ready to research, show them some of the videos available from fhc.familysearch.org under “Classes and workshops.” For a first visit, don’t try a long class – start with a 5-minute genealogy episode or two. Or from the list on the left, click on “beginner” and see what courses catch your eye. Watch the videos together – you may learn something too.
- If they are young or work with youth, show them lds.org/familyhistoryyouth and view the modules and videos there. There are several in each section, and all are different.
- Use other resources available, such as www.familysearch.org to search for more information about family members.
Tip: Even if NFS shows a checkmark, indicating all temple work is done for a family, it doesn’t necessarily mean all family members in that family are listed in NFS. Check vital records or censuses to make sure you have all the family members. Show them how ancestry.com can help them assess whether family members are missing.”