Today’s article is written by Barbara Poole, who kindly offered to write about her experiences at the FGS Conference, and then surprised me with the report that my Blog was featured in one of the lectures at the conference!
I, myself, will be attending the Annual Meeting of the Polish Genealogical Society of America later this week, so I’ll be taking a few days off from writing this blog to get ready for that conference. Enjoy Barbara’s report!
As a favor to Steve Danko, the owner of this site, I am giving him a break for a day or two by writing about the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) Conference held in Boston last week. This is my 3rd guest blog on this site and the FGS Conference was the 3rd large genealogy conference I’ve attended. I know from personal emails that Steve has been anxiously waiting for this report and I know he will be surprised at some of the things I am sharing here.
The annual FGS Conference was held in Boston beginning August 30, 2006 and lasted four days. Because this conference was held close to where I live (over an hour commute), I wanted to take advantage of attending many lectures and volunteering as much as possible. On Tuesday, Aug. 29 (the day before conference), I spent much of the day at the convention center spending assembling conference materials and inserting them into the black canvas briefcases for the attendees. These briefcases were strong enough to hold the syllabus, a four-volume set of about 1200 pages – a volume for each day. My bag, books & printed materials weighed 8 lbs., so I built up some muscles during the convention.
There was a nice group of volunteers, some of whom I already knew through the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) or through genealogy clubs. Meeting new people through volunteering is a bonus. Two volunteers were from California, and they spent time helping out when they could have been doing something fun in Boston. At 3 p.m. on Tuesday, early registration began, and attendees could pick up their registration packets and bags. There were so many people who wanted to get their hands on the goodies immediately. Fortunately, I was able to get mine early – a benefit of volunteering!!!
The conference began on the following day. Now, this was not a small conference, it was huge! It was hard to pick one lecture to attend when the choices could be as many as 19 selections for one particular hour! A total of 379 lectures were offered for the four day period!! What did I enjoy? The lectures of course, but I also enjoyed seeing people I knew, not only from my area, but from other places, as well. I saw two people I knew from Washington, DC, one of whom is a genealogist who worked at the DAR when I did, and who got me started on the hobby (I didn’t even know she was going to be there). You never know whom you will see at a conference. While on the registration desk, several people came up to me and inquired if somebody was either registered or had checked in.
On Thursday morning, while waiting for the exhibit hall to open, I saw Cindy Rowzee, an instructor for a number of online classes through MyFamily.com. Both Steve and I took several of her classes, and that is how he and I met. Cindy and I went into the exhibit hall together, heading to Ancestry.com‘s exhibit, and later I ran into her two more times, now like old friends.
The exhibit hall is the place where attendees have the opportunity to meet the vendors and find out about new products and services. I learned that ProQuest will be adding 6,000 new books to their book section of HeritageQuest next month. The Ancestry.com booth had new books, and the authors were there signing them. Another instructor Steve and I know from the MyFamily.com classes, George Morgan, was there signing his book, so I said “Hi!” for Steve and me. I chatted with the author of Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter, Dick Eastman, whom I’ve met a few times in the past. Dick was interested in seeing this blog, so I promised to send him the address this week. I also met the publisher and editor of Internet Genealogy magazine Mr. Halvor Moorshead. Since Mr. Moorshead wasn’t too busy, I told him that I loved his magazine and how I had mentioned it in my previous guest columns on Steve’s blog. Well, he checked out my articles, and was impressed. He wrote down the URL, so who knows what will happen!
It really is fun seeing what is being offered to genealogists. FamilySearch.org was there as were many other vendors, too many to name all. Some vendors were offering door prizes and attendees received 30 coupons to fill out and then decide where to place them. Among the prizes were a $50 gift certificate for Barnes & Noble, a seven-night stay in Salt Lake City, many specific books and other things. Most of the exhibiters gave away pamphlets, brochures, candy, pens, and staple removers. I was lucky enough to pick up free issues of three recently printed magazines and a free CD with a 30-day trial of The Master Genealogist software.
On Wednesday, I attended a lecture about blogs entitled Dear Genealogy Diary: Today I Made a Great Discovery by Drew Smith. As Drew was setting up his presentation, I saw that he had Steve’s blog on the screen! Steve had asked me to say “Hi!” to Drew, and with Steve’s blog on the screen, it made it very easy for me to introduce myself. As it turned out, a good part of the lecture was on Steve’s site.
If you’re interested in reading more about the FGS conference, I know Dick Eastman will have something on his newsletter at http://blog.eogn.com, and George Morgan and Drew Smith will be talking about the conference on the Genealogy Guys Podcast at http://www.genealogyguys.com.
Even if you couldn’t attend the conference, you can still listen to many of the talks for just $1.99 per lecture by going to http://stores.lulu.com/fgs2006. What a great deal! In the past, I had to buy cassettes, and the cost was much higher than this.
I hope in the future many of you can get to a conference. Every year, there are several large conferences presented by different organizations. Next year, the National Genealogical Society (NGS) at will hold their conference in Richmond, Virginia, and FGS will hold their conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana. But, you don’t have to go to a large conference, since there are many smaller conferences being held all the time, all around the country. Often, the same speakers will present the same lecture at both a large national conference and a small local conference. As a case in point, Diana Smith presented a talk on Why Use Those Blankety-Blank Forms? at FGS, and will present the same talk on October 7, 2006 at the Fairfax Genealogical Society’s 3rd Annual Genealogy Fair. Since most lectures take a lot of time to prepare, the same talks are often presented at multiple events and in multiple locations.
Even though this FGS conference lasted four days, an attendee could register for just a single day or for the entire conference. Many, or I really think most, of the attendees went by themselves. Almost everybody I knew went alone. Very few people knew one another in the lecture halls; so in essence, everybody was doing their own thing alone. Dress was very casual, I began the first day wearing low flats, the next day it was sandals and the other days I was in sneakers. There was so much walking, and I have blisters to show for it. These lectures are for all levels, beginner and advanced, with a wide range of topics.
Last notes, my husband went with me on Saturday to check out the exhibit hall. The hall was free for the public, and I saw many people there, learning about genealogy. So in closing, the FGS conference was a wonderful experience, and I truly hope you will all be able to attend a genealogy conference soon.
Copyright © 2006 by Stephen J. Danko