Robert’s Rules of Order

Weekly Trip to the Library
By Henry Martyn Robert & William J. Evans

Since we have been discussing nanny support groups this week it only fitting to recommend that nannies reference Robert’s Rules of Order when planning nanny support group meetings. This is a concise and user-friendly guide to the essentials for conducting a meeting by the official Robert’s Rules of Order authorship committee.

Henry Martyn Robert was an engineering officer in the regular Army. Without warning he was asked to preside over a public meeting being held in a church in his community and realized that he did not know how. He tried anyway and his embarrassment was supreme. This event, which may seem familiar to many readers, left him determined never to attend another meeting until he knew something of parliamentary law.

Ultimately, he discovered and studied the few books then available on the subject. From time to time, due to his military duties, he was transferred to various parts of the United States where he found virtual parliamentary anarchy since each member from a different part of the country had differing ideas of correct procedure. To bring order out of chaos he decided to write Robert’s Rules of Order as it came to be called.

The tenth, current, edition has been brought about through a process of keeping the book up to date with the growth of parliamentary procedure. All editions of the work issued after the death of the original author have been prepared by persons who either knew and worked with the original author or are connected to such persons in a direct continuity of professional association.

Tomorrow: Listing of Nanny Support Groups


  1. Meetings with Robert's Rules can be ineffective at best and rude and out of control at worst. At a recent meeting (unrelated to nannies), where I am the secretary, the meeting was wandering in circles. It ended before voting on a resolution of the matter in question. How did it end? A few people – including our chair – just got up from the table and began to walk away. Later an email was send out to the group, urging me to get the minutes out ASAP so we could all be reminded of the "decision" regarding said issue.

  2. Any group (church groups included in my case) have gossip and problems. Structure is always helpful.

  3. I'm way behind in getting to this…but I have to disagree with Meg. I've been involved in a number of organizations that rely on Robert's Rules. When the people running the meeting are familiar with how the Rules work and the structure of them, it is highly, highly efficient and effective…especially when you have a large group that wants/needs to discuss a topic and/or vote on it. But, you have to follow them and understand them to do so. It's more than just "I make a motion" and "I second that" and chaos. Most orgs I know of that use it have a Parliamentarian or a Sargeant at Arms whose sole role is to make sure that Robert's Rules are followed and enforced (and explained, if need be). In very small groups, it can be burdensome and seemingly unnecessary, which is when it is good to know the shortcuts (such as moving to "call the consent" on certain votes, etc)…and good to have a mindset of "practice makes perfect". The more members who know and understand them, the more efficiently things run.

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