"GOOD DEEDS SHOULD BE REWARDED," by Paula Stuart-Warren, CG
Most genealogical and historical societies have volunteers whose
dedication year after year keeps the organization running. These are
the folks who have indexed, transcribed, or written articles about
records that help the rest of us. It may be the person who steps up
to the plate whenever a volunteer is needed. Is it time for them to
receive some public recognition?
AWARDS FOR SERVICE
Genealogical and historical societies worldwide present awards for
service. Some have a committee that identify and choose the winners;
others request nominations for consideration. In some cases the
nominees must be a society member, but others are presented to non-
members. Some awards are awarded posthumously. Others are given to
the individuals, organizations, libraries, historical societies, and
archives that continue to serve.
DO YOU WANT TO NOMINATE SOMEONE OR SOME ORGANIZATION?
Look at the genealogical and historical societies of which you are a
member. Does its publication list award winners and ask for nominees?
Check the websites of other local, state, and national level
societies. For example, the sites of the Missouri State Genealogical
) and the Indiana
) detail awards and request
Not all societies include awards on their site. If you can't find
information, contact the society via e-mail or regular mail. The
basic format is that once awards are submitted an awards committee
reviews those and makes the final decisions. There are times when an
individual member or two do recognize all that a specific member has
done for an organization. However the society's current board members
may not know the full extent of the contributions of a long-time
THE FEDERATION OF GENEALOGICAL SOCIETIES
FGS has several categories of awards for individuals and
organizations. Full details are on the FGS website
. That site states these awards
"recognize and thank individuals and organizations who make
significant contributions" and that "they illustrate the many things
that can, and need, to be done, and provide examples and ideas on how
we can accomplish similar goals." The winners of some awards are
listed on the website and all award winners are announced in the FGS
publication, "FORUM." Announcements requesting nominations appear
periodically in "FORUM."
A few of these rewards require that the nominees be a member of one
of the FGS member societies. Some of the awards are announced at the
annual FGS Conference http://www.fgs.org/2006conf/FGS-2006.htm
opening session and the conference banquet. Other awards are
presented throughout the year. The nominating process is truly easy--
just use the online form.
Some types of FGS awards recognize pioneers in the field, outstanding
service to FGS or a member society, exceptional contributions to the
field of genealogy and family history, and in the case of the "Rabbi
Malcolm H. Stern Humanitarian Award," it is "presented to recognize
the lifetime contributions of a rare individual whose positive
personal influence and example have fostered unity in the
genealogical community, provided leadership to its individual
members, and helped make family history a vital force in the
community at large."
A SPECIAL FGS AWARD
One special award for volunteers is "The Ruth C. Bishop Volunteer
Hall of Honor Award." It recognizes the generous spirit and work
ethic of genealogical society volunteers, both present and past. Ruth
Bishop, a special friend of FGS, personally presents the prestigious
Living Volunteer Award to the recipient at the annual FGS conference
banquet. The Award itself is breathtaking. The 2006 Living Volunteer
Award winner also receives airfare, hotel, conference registration,
and a banquet ticket for the 2006 FGS/NEHGS Conference in Boston.
A cash award of $1,000.00 is awarded to the nominating society of the
Living Volunteer winner. Additionally, posthumous awards are
presented annually with certificates given to the nominating member
society and to the family of the posthumous award winners. Each
member society of FGS may nominate one person per category each year.
The deadline for nominations for the 2006 Ruth C. Bishop Award is
April 17, 2006. Please suggest that your organization take this
opportunity to recognize members of your society for the important
contributions they make. Nominations may be submitted year-round for
the FGS other award categories.
THE NATIONAL GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY
NGS also honors individuals and organizations. The NGS website
includes awards and
competitions sections detailing the awards and the deadline for each
and online submission forms. Some of these require membership in NGS,
but others do not. "The NGS Awards program recognizes excellence,
scholarship, and achievements in the field of genealogy . . ." The
"NGS Newsmagazine" has periodic notices requesting submissions of the
names and qualifications of possible award nominees.
NGS also has competition awards for excellence in the areas of
writing, librarianship, volunteerism, pioneers in the field, and
other contributions to genealogy and history. The "Rubincam Youth
Award" honors noted genealogist Milton Rubincam for his many years of
service to NGS and to genealogy by encouraging the participation of
young people in the field of genealogy.
The "NGS Genealogical Newsletter Competition" is an "effort by the
National Genealogical Society to recognize the hard work, long hours
and creativity that editors devote to their newsletters as well as to
provide suggestions for possible improvement." The newsletters in the
competition are from genealogical and historical societies and family
A SPECIAL NGS AWARD
The annual "Filby Prize for Genealogical Librarianship" recognizes
individuals who give exemplary service in genealogy and local
history. It is currently sponsored by ProQuest. Among the criteria
for this award are significant contributions to patron access to
information, preservation of historical records, and other activities
that advance genealogy and local history. It honors librarians whose
"primary focus is genealogy and local history and is employed in a
public, academic, or special library." This is a great way to thank
those who serve us at the places we research. You might consider
working with this special librarian's employer and the area
genealogical society on this nomination.
The winner receives a $1,000.00 award which is presented at the NGS
annual conference (http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/2006Chicago.cfm
banquet, which this year is in Chicago. Full details are on the NGS
Regular readers of this column may remember that I am a big advocate
of joining societies and of doing volunteer work for our societies.
Often as I read the reason why a particular person or organization
was rewarded, I felt a bit guilty. In their lifetime or with today's
limited organizational budgets, how could they fit in so much good
work that benefits the rest of us? I strongly believe that we need to
recognize others. Some of the nicest people I know are those I met
when doing a volunteer job for one of the societies to which I
belong. I benefit almost daily from the publications, websites,
databases, and record preservation efforts of genealogical societies,
archives, historical societies, and other places.
I hope you feel that it is time to nominate an individual or
organization for one of the many awards in genealogy. Take care in
the nomination, follow the directions, and make sure the
accomplishments of the nominee are evident to the judges.
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Reprinted by permission, "Ancestry Daily News"