Supportive Grant Recipients Announced

Congratulations to the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society and Grays Harbor Genealogical Society for receiving WSGS Supportive Grants.

Scanning equipment: The Yakima Valley Genealogical Society (YVGS) has been collecting and preserving area obituaries since 1968. To date, they have collected around 300,000 obituaries, mainly from the Yakima Herald Republic covering the time period from 1969 to 2021.  The records are available to the public, free of charge, either by visiting their library or by requesting copies by mail.  Due to the lack of digitized copies of the Herald and other local papers, however, YVGS has not been able to gather all of the obituaries from the late 1800’s to 1968, leaving a huge gap in their coverage of the papers.

To fill the gap, YVGS recently purchased a microfilm/microfiche reader/scanner that can digitize full rolls of microfilmed newspaper in as little as one hour per roll. The WSGS Supportive Grant, along with financial support from their members, will be applied to offset the $5,600 cost of the machine.

Once up and running, the unit will allow YVGS library patrons to print or digitize copies of pages or documents from the 6,000 microfilms and 6,000 microfiche residing in their library. In addition, the unit will be available to be used by members of other societies in the state.  By visiting their library, societies will be able to easily digitize their own microfilmed records.

Hybrid Meeting Equipment: The Grays Harbor Genealogical Society (GHGS) has struggled to maintain membership and meeting attendance in their small society (45 members) since March 2020. BC (before COVID), they averaged 20 – 25 members at each meeting. Now, they are averaging 10 – 15 at virtual meetings via Zoom. To better understand why members weren’t participating in virtual meetings, they conducted an online survey. Many replied they wanted to meet in person, finding value in in-person interactions. There were others, however, that were still wanting to meet virtually (because of distance, health issues or convenience).

To retain and increase their membership, GHGS is planning to start “hybrid” meetings in February or March 2022. They plan to use their Supportive Grant monies to purchase equipment that will allow all participants to feel the “connectiveness” they want — whether in person or virtually. They are researching the purchase of a camera, microphone and speaker. They already a member who has volunteered to be their technical expert to run the equipment and monitor speakers and listeners.

Congratulations to YVGS and GHGS. The review panel was very impressed with the caliber of the other societies’ applications. WSGS is hoping to offer Supportive Grants in 2022.

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