Use Your Society to Honour Local People

Why share a story?

Here is another review of a talk at the Footsteps in Time Conference:

Being interested in how societies and individuals can use modern technologies to promote, share and research family history Janice Cooper’s talk titled Honouring People from the Past was a great fit for me. I was hoping she would touch on using technology. She did!

As Janice said, “Powerful and significant men and women from the past are well recognised in general histories. We can read details of their lives in books or online. Many other people are, however, lost from history until found and described by local and family historians.”  It was interesting to hear from Janice there are numerous ways societies can share information that honour local people.

So how can you honour local people?

Here are a few of Janice’s suggestions:

  1. Blogs – share stories about local people.
  2. Permitting comments can allow others to add to stories.
  3. Photographs and images. Creation of galleries online is great however we need to source and caption these for them to be of use to researchers.
  4. Indexes added to websites. Do include links to more detailed pages and these can lead researchers to societies own collections.
  5. Make data sets available online. For example, cemetery lists. These are not as common as others ways to honour local people.

Janice stressed the use of tags online to so that material becomes more searchable and easier to find by researchers. Newsletter documents such as PDFs that contain stories published online are often not searchable so people do not find them. She suggested we could republish these stories on a blog and tag them.

Especially relevant and to repeat a previous suggestion, Janice stressed the importance to source and caption images.

With tagging don’t just tag the name. Write and tag stories about places, names, topic, etc.

How to honour local people

When thinking about Janice’s talk I thought of more ideas:

  • That a society needs to have a strategy to honour locals.
  • Decide on the ways they plan to honour locals.
  • Put in place processes to support the strategy for the ongoing ways like newsletters.
  • Set up their website to make publishing easier that permits editing and posting by multiple persons.
  • Having a publishing and tagging guide.
  • Project plan larger projects.
  • Look for easy wins like publishing  materials from previous newsletters.
  • Contact details of the writer or a contact form can be used in addition to sources.

A final thought: Copyright and Privacy

Some members might have been happy to publish in a local newsletter but not want this online. They might not even be aware that newsletters are already being published online or physically distributed to other societies. Did they have the right to publish photos provided? Some of these answers to these questions might be addressed at the time of writing newsletters.

It might be time to clarify copyright and privacy at societies too.

Footsteps in Time

Footsteps in a Time ConferenceQueensland State Conference
Family and Local History Conference & Fair,
19-21 May 2017

Speaker: Janice Cooper

Bio extracted from the Footsteps in Time website

Janice Cooper is a local historian and the author of two local history publications including a One Place Study with names of the hundreds from rural Queensland. She has written articles for several general history journals and newsletters.  With an academic background in history and being an experienced family historian she researches widely to place families in their communities and historic periods. She supports local and family history societies in a number of ways – in research, writing and publishing, presenting and management.

Finally, feel free to leave a comment on any tips you have or examples of society websites that honour local people.

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Use Your Society to Honour Local People