When genealogical society board members read the British Columbia Historical Federation article about the why the Burnaby Historical Society had to disband after 61 years, they may recognize the warning signs in their own organization.
Roger Whitehouse, a Burnaby Historical Society board member, said, “We’re probably the oldest society in Burnaby. It’s a disappointment and a wakeup call.”
Board members interviewed for the article cited a few reasons why membership had dropped from 100 to 14 members.
- Didn’t keep pace with technology.
- No website and not on social media, so promoting the society was difficult.
- Young people are not interested in going to meetings. Most work and some have more than one job.
- Older members died or moved away.
- Volunteers were burned out.
It’s a shame to see this historical society dissolve after the preservation work they did and scholarships they issued over the years.
They had seen the writing on the wall, but were unable to attract new members and perhaps unwilling to change their ways. They’re not alone, unfortunately.
Let’s hope other historical and genealogical societies are able to find a way to grow their membership, rather than thinking that what worked in 1985 will still work in 2019. They need to act now.