August 1, 2020
Since the pandemic shows no sign of abating any time soon, we’ve been having some discussions about the short-term direction of Western Mass Roots. We have to assume that classroom training won’t be available to us for the foreseeable future and though we are seeing some cautious reopening of some libraries and city and town record offices, access remains limited for onsite research. Since we have largely been an “in person” group primarily focused on classroom training and publicizing local genealogy events via our newsletter, this leaves us with very little to do. Therefore, after an afternoon of brainstorming, we have decided to temporarily move our focus from “in-person” events to research.
So how will this work? Since there are just a few of us we have to pace ourselves to make sure that we don’t get overwhelmed and can actually fulfill any research requests that we receive. Obviously in the beginning our research will be done online, but we’ll expand into onsite research as facilities open and circumstances allow. We will start with our current mailing list, sending out an email with full details and a research request form to a dozen or so email addresses at a time, inviting people to submit their research requests. The email will include all the information needed to take advantage of our services, but here are general answers to some of the questions you may have:
How much will this cost? We will charge a flat fee of $25.00 per hour for research. You can purchase the research in blocks of time down to the 30 minute level. But here’s the catch: You won’t be paying us. Instead, we are going to ask that you donate your fee to a local charity that provides services to folks in Western Massachusetts. Our “payment” will be a copy of the receipt for your donation. We will provide a list of suggested charities in the forthcoming explanatory email mentioned earlier, but will also happily consider your favorite local charity as well. As a bonus, your donation may be tax deductible.
What will I receive for my donation? We will provide you with PDF copies of all documents we uncover including a PDF of any tree we construct during our research. If construction of a tree is involved, we will also provide you with a GEDCOM file which is the standard format for family tree files and which can be uploaded into most family tree software. A GEDCOM file can also be uploaded to Ancestry.com, AncesTrees (from NEHGS), and to FamilySearch.org.
When are you going to send your first email inviting research requests? We are hoping to begin by mid to late August.
So, no more genealogy research classes? Only for now. We plan to resume teaching again as soon as circumstances permit. That’s the core function of our group and we are anxious to resume classes as soon as we can. Until then, we hope we can be of service in a different way by helping folks with their personal research.
What about the WMARE monthly newsletter? We are still working on that one. Without classes or in-person genealogy related events taking place, there is very little to include in a newsletter at the present time. But we promise as soon as we decide on a temporary alternative we’ll let you know. Though we may revamp the format and content a bit depending on long-term circumstances, we have every intention of resuming our newsletter as soon as there is something worthwhile to include.
In the meantime, watch your inboxes for our research request form and explanatory email. We look forward to assisting many of you with your research.