Curt Witcher

Curt is the Historical Genealogy Department Manager for the Allen County (Indiana) Public Library. He was one of the conference’s keynote speakers: He also was the fearured speaker at the FGS lunch.

Trying to describe the impact of one of Curts talks would be like trying to describe, well, words escape me… He is inspirational, provocative, challenging and, above all, entertaining. I really tried to take notes during both his talks but failed due to hand fatigue, interruptions to applaud and, occasionally, to wipe a tear away.

He is passionately committed to the adaption of technology by societies to enable them to provide members (and potential members) with the data they want, in the form they want it when they want it. He is convinced that continuing to provide newsletters and journals on paper is a waste of valuable society resources that could be put to better use.

One idea he put forth surprised me a little at first… that societies should put some or most of their databases behind the ‘paywall’ in a members only area. He believes that this can and should be a good revenue stream that societies can use to support their efforts to digitize and index more local records.

On reflection I think that it is the only rational way that societies can capitalize on the growning use of the internet by genealogists who otherwise do not feel compelled to join and support the societies who provide the data they want.

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