A Look Back at the Guild's Founding
by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, C.G.
published in Speak! 10 (May/June & Sept/Oct 2001): 11-14
August 17, 2001, marked the
Genealogical Speakers Guild ten-year anniversary. Over that ten-year period,
the Guild has welcomed many new members who may not be aware of the
organization?s origins and what speaking conditions were like a mere decade
The honorarium ten years ago was
mileage-based, and the only expenses the national organizations covered were
the banquet and the conference registration. Speakers were on their own to
make and pay for travel, hotel, and meal expenses.
Reprinted below is an article
published in the first Guild newsletter (Vol. 1, September 1991), no author
credited, although Helen F.M. Leary edited the first two or three newsletters.
I have annotated and supplemented the article for clarity.
On Saturday, 17 August 1991, the Genealogical Speakers' Guild
was founded in Fort Wayne, Indiana,
at the conclusion of the FGS conference, as the next logical step in
lecturers? efforts to resolve the conflict between their view of themselves
as dedicated professionals and evidence that a significant portion of the
genealogical community does not share that view.
The twenty-four educators who became charter members of the Guild were
Marsha Hoffman Rising
Elizabeth Shown Mills
Mary McCampbell Bell
Robert C. Anderson
Sharon DeBartolo Carmack*
Patricia Law Hatcher
Kathleen W. Hinckley
Henry Z Jones*
Roger D. Joslyn*
Helen F.M. Leary
Sandra H. Luebking*
Joy Wade Moulton
and they defined the Guild?s goals:
To provide a forum for discussion;
To promote speakers? interests with a unified, effective
To broaden the speaker base by identifying and assisting
promising new lecturers;
To raise professional lecture standards;
To help genealogical societies plan sounder, more cost-effective
workshops by providing program and budget advice;
To act as a reference point for matching speakers' topics with
program planners needs.
The Guild agreed on several immediate steps: members will refuse to
allow lecture taping without a conference-wide contract that agrees with the
Genealogical Coordinating Committee resolution concerning royalties
(see page XX); a newsletter was authorized, each charter member
contributing $5 toward the cost of production and mailing; and an eight-member
Steering Committee was appointed to meet in Hartford, Connecticut, on 5
October to complete work on the structure of the Guild.
Temporary officers were elected: Robert C. Anderson (president), Marsha
Hoffman Rising (treasurer), Helen F.M. Leary (newsletter editor), and Kathleen
W. Hinckley and Mary McCampbell Bell (production and mailing editors).
Considerable dissatisfaction with the compensation schedule for the 1992 NGS
Conference in Jacksonville was expressed
and several proposals were made: boycotting the conference; accepting one
lecture but refusing a second or third; or accepting the entire invitation.
Because the deadline was so close, however, members agreed that the Guild
would take no position concerning the 1992 conference.
A Guild policy concerning future national-conference invitations was
also considered; it was agreed that all Guild members would contribute their
opinions and all would then adhere to the decision reached by the majority.
(Taken from the
the original group realized we had underestimated the amount of interest in a
speakers guild. Initially, we requested a $5 donation and three self-addressed
stamped envelopes from those who wished to receive the newsletter. Circulation
of the Genealogical Speakers Guild newsletter grew from twenty-five to more
than one hundred in nine months.
to published articles hummed through computer bulletin boards and editors of
other genealogical newsletters reproduced our articles. We had struck a chord.
Not everyone who responded agreed with what they read. Not everyone agreed
that the speakers had legitimate grievances. On the other hand, some believed
the Guild was not going far enough with its initial goals. But people began to
listen and to think about genealogical lecturing and education.
response from August 1991 to April 1992 clearly indicated a need for a
speakers? organization. Alternatives were discussed. The pro tem officers
proposed that we formally organize at the National Genealogical Society
Conference in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1992. We held a general meeting there,
by-laws were proposed and discussion ensued. Again, the response of those
involved overwhelmed the planners. More than eighty-five people attended the
meeting, and we decided the best plan was to initiate the organizational
process, elect officers, and then begin to refine by-laws within a smaller
group. The Genealogical Speakers Guild was born.
The Guild is
(From the Guild's
newsletter, Volume 1, June 1992)
At a meeting in Jacksonville, Florida, on 2 May 1992, at the conclusion
of the NGS conference, the Genealogical Speakers' Guild passed its by-laws,
elected its officers, and established its annual dues.
Roughly eighty-five people attended the organizational meeting chaired
by Robert C. Anderson, president pro-tem.
The first proposal to be discussed was whether the Guild should form itself as
a chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists. The prevailing view
was that the Guild should remain an independent organization; stated reasons
were: APG has not yet installed its chapter program, becoming a chapter would
not relieve the Guild of the need for finding volunteers and financing, and
chapter status would tend to delute the Guild's voice on issue of concern to
The proposed bylaws were discussed at length, and many changes were
suggested. As the evening progressed, however, and it became clear that
permanent officers could not be elected without bylaws, they were accepted as
proposed with the understanding that the incoming president would appoint a
committee to work on revisions. The Guild's thanks were expressed to Pat
Hatcher for accepting the grave (and time-consuming) responsibility for
integrating the steering committee's ideas in written form.
Following approval of the bylaws, permanent officers were elected:
Marsha Hoffman Rising, CG, CGL, of Springfield, MO
Kathleen W. Hinckely, CGRS, CGL, of Arvada, CO
Marie Martin Murphy, of Bartlet, IL
Sandra H. Luebking, of Western Springs, IL
Henry Z ?Hank? Jones, Jr., FASG, of Universal City, CA
Sydney Beckett, of Philadelphia, PA
Helen Hinchliff, Ph.D., of Fulford Harbor, B.C., Canada
There was much debate over the dues structure, but because the Guild
wanted to present a professional organization to the genealogical community
and needed the funds to run a new organization, dues were set at $75 a year
beginning in January 1993. There has not been a dues increase since.
When the Guild was founded,
speakers were not receiving a royalty on audio tapes. The Guild sought to
change this, and speakers? now receive a 10% royalty on every tape sold.
Additionally, the Guild was responsible for working with Repeat Performance
and refining the taping agreement, which is now included in each speaker?s
invitation for NGS or FGS conferences.
Because of the Guilds?
collective bargaining, NGS and FGS revised their honorarium and speaker
package in the year or two that followed our founding to $150 per lecture, a
per diem meal expense, most travel to and from the conference city, conference
registration, and complimentary hotel nights depending on the number of
lectures the speaker presents. While the expense package has improved, there
has not been a "cost of living" increase in the honorarium since the early
1990s. We still receive $150 per lecture.
There is no question that the
Guild attained its goals from its founding in 1991. It will be interesting to
see what the next generation of speakers? goals will be and whether they
will perpetuate the principles the Guild?s founding members established.
* * *
(reprinted from volume 1 of The Genealogical Speakers' Guild Newsletter)
Genealogical Coordinating Committee (GCC), composed of the American Society of
Genealogists, the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Board for
Certification of Genealogists, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the
Genealogical Society of Utah, the National Genealogical Society, and the New
England Historic Genealogical Society, is pleased to note the extent to which
the national and state-level conference system has developed into a major
educational forum within the genealogical field and wishes to ensure the
successful continuance of this system; and
the GCC recognizes the extent to which this system is entirely dependent upon
the contributions of the many lecturers who donate time, service, and
financial support far in excess of their token remuneration, and that the
resources of these speakers are being requested and stretched to appoint that
the foundations of the conference system are endangered; and
the GCC further recognizes and deplores the illegal misuse of speaker material
that occurs as a result of the widespread practice of taping and selling
conference lectures by commercial firms; and
the GCC recognizes that the selling of taped materials without compensation to
the creators of those works is contrary to all practices, expectations, and
realities of the business and professional world;
the GCC passes the following resolution:
that the GCC hereby encourages its individual member organizations to adopt
the following policies.
That all future conferences arranging for the commercial taping of
lectures shall require a contract from the taping firm;
That the contract shall require the commercial taper to pay royalties
to each and every speaker whose material this firm sells;
That the minimum royalty shall be $1.50 per individual tape sold;
That the taping firm shall, for each lecture that a speaker permits it
to tape and sell, maintain an on-going list of purchasers by name, address,
and date of order.
That the taping firm shall annually (on the anniversary of each
respective conference) issue a royalty check to the taped speaker commensurate
with the number of copies sold;
That a copy of the purchaser's list shall accompany the royalty
check?as supporting documentation for the calculated royalties and to supply
the speaker with evidence of the identity of each individual purchaser as a
means by which to combat plagiarized lectures;
That the taping firm shall consent to the inspection of its order lists
by an official representative of the GCC, if and when a speaker should present
to the GCC evidence of questionable royalty reporting.
Passed, this 15th day of August, 1990, at Salt
Lake City, Utah.