4-H Genealogy Project
About 30 years ago, I got involved with the 4-H Family History projects in Vanderburgh County, Indiana. I had no idea that I would still be working with 4-H members and their families discovering their family heritage. The age of 4-H members are about 8 to 18; and, often most or all of their grandparents are still living... perhaps even some older relatives are still around to tell stories and give some important clues to go back further in researching the family of long ago.
The Indiana 4-H Genealogy project is structured with project requirements that adhere to strict genealogical standards. This includes citing sources for the information they list on generation charts & family group sheets. The county fair exhibit notebooks include photocopies of documents and photographs to back up their research. A nice section is having a sheet for each person on the generation charts called "Additional Information Sheet" that calls for all sorts of interesting data about schools attended, occupations, residences, health, hobbies, community service and more. The 4-H member can take the project each year and advances in Divisions 1, 2, 3, 4 & Advance. The Advance Division requires the 4-H'er to complete as much as possible of their 8th. generation with all of the documentation, additional information family group sheets, etc. As you might suspect after 3 years, the exhibit becomes larger and often has two or more notebooks. Advance entries often have 3 or more 4" notebooks with hundreds of pages in each notebook!!! Lots of wills, deeds, certificates, cemetery records, census data, old photographs... all of those things genealogists hold dear!
When I got involved I was appointed the Superintendent of the Vanderburgh County 4-H Genealogy Project (it was originally called "Family Tree"). Carol Lantaff was named the Assistant Superintendent who was a very important part of the project's success. Carol served with me for about 15 years or so. I served as Superintendent for 25 years. I also began judging county fair exhibits in surrounding counties and have done so for nearly 30 years and the last 4 years as one of the Indiana State Fair judges for this project. I have conducted at least 30-40 workshops to explain the project and how to research the family.
Yesterday, I had been working on judging some of the Warrick County 4-H exhibits at home when I got some more to judge from Gibson County. I spend an average of about half an hour going through each exhibit to ensure it meets project guidelines and includes the required information. So, instead of spending 8 to 12 hours judging at the fair grounds, the 4-H officials get the exhibits to me about one week to 10 days before the fair to allow me more time to judge the exhibits in the comfort of my home. It is a lot of work and I do spend a lot of time each year judging these exhibits, but I enjoy it and it is worthwhile to get these young 4-H'ers started in a great life-time hobby researching their family histories... especially while many older family members are still alive to help.
What prompted me to write about this was that Becky & I went to the Golden Corral to eat last night and Carol Lantaff showed up with many of her out-of-state cousins! Seeing Carol brought back many very fond memories of working with these young 4-H'ers and their families last night as I was going through some of the exhibits!
- Written by JGWest