Carol Sanderson, Editor
Charles Hansen, Technical Advisor
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As members of the local genealogy society, we sometimes travel as a group. I have been to two national genealogical conferences with others from our local society. Like many societies, we also have an annual trip to Salt Lake City to research, taking advantage of group rates and friendly faces if you néed help.
One of the members of our local genealogy society, Donna Phillips, goes to Salt Lake City twice a year. Both times she helps lead groups. Each year, in early February, she leads a group from our local society, and in December she helps with the Heritage Genealogy Tours.
Being busy at work in February, I signed up for the December tour several years ago. It was the first full week in December and we were briefed on what winter in Salt Lake City would be like, so I packed winter clothes and even my rubbers, in case of snow.
As a group, we arranged for the rooms. Each room had two double beds so you could have 4 in a room which made it less expensive. My Sister and I traveled together, we arrived on Sunday and it was in the 50s, and warm for December, but nice. The local TV weather broadcast indicated that the warm weather was melting the snow on the ski slopes. However, I was not there to ski, but to research in the Family History Library.
Monday morning, we all met in the lobby of the hotel where we departed for the library for an orientation session. I don't remember the name of the lady who did the orientation, but she had a wonderful British accent. She explained the library and warned us to get out and walk around once in a while, and then come back refreshed. She also told us not to ask her any questions about English research, as her ancestors were all from Russia. [Early in the 1900s, her ancestors had migrated to Australia so that is where she acquired her accent.] Later during the year, she appeared on the Ancestry Series on PBS, and her Australian accent was easy to remember.
Part of the cost of the tours was a fee to several professional genealogists for helping the group at the library. I was interested in my Danish line, so I made an appointment with the Scandinavian expert Wade Hone. I had a book from my grandfather and it had his address in Denmark. I asked if this would help and Wade said it would help a lot. Off we went to the computers where he found several films for the parish from which my grandfather had come. Wade then sent me for the films and asked me to use a microfilm reader near where he was researching so he could come by often to check on my progress. On my left was a lady from the group researching her Swedish ancestors. On my right was a gentleman researching his Norwegian ancestors. Every hour or so, Wade would come down the row helping all of us. I was not very good at reading Danish then but I did have a guide of the common genealogical words. With this help, I was able to find my grandfather's family and trace back about 4 generations.
Wednesday they had a field trip to the Heritage Quest Headquarters. We got to see where they printed the books and magazines they sold and where they copied the films We even got to see them filming some city directories and were even offered a discount on any books they had.
The weather had actually warmed up during the week and hit 65 one day. It was hard to believe it was December, but it was nice to walk in the warm weather when I took a break from the microfilm readers.
Salt Lake City was all decorated for Christmas, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was practicing for a concert in the Tabernacle. We were able to sit in on a practice session for free one day near noon.
On Saturday morning, there was a party for the whole group at the hotel. Some of the people were leaving that day, but since our plane did not leave till 1 P.M. on Sunday, I went back to the library one more time.
I returned to the hotel and packed the copies I had made and books I had bought, and went to sleep. For some reason I awakened about 2 a.m. and looked outside, it was snowing hard. Later that morning when I awoke, there was 10 inches of new snow. The plows were out but the airport shuttle was running late. I went to breakfast and back to my room to finish packing and to check out. By then the snow had stopped. I got to the airport and my plane came in and it did leave on time.
Genealogy societies were formed, I believe, in the beginning because a group of people with similar interests got together with the idea that they could help each other with their searches. Not only could they help their members but also they could and would help others who were seeking ancestors. That is how some of the genealogy societies, which I have belonged to, came into being.
Snce there is a framework in which people can work for them and for others then other things come into play. They want to become larger so they invite more people with similar interests to join them. To get people interested they plan meetings with speakers from the group or from the outside to talk on subjects that will prove interesting but also helpful in the knowledge that they disseminate. People who are learning keep coming and eventually they become some of the helpers.
One of the ways that these groups help to spread their knowledge is to have genealogy fairs, workshops, and seminars. They can be almost anything one wants them to be but there is always the underlying point of teaching or helping others to learn how to do more.
You might ask yourself, "Why should I join a society?" There are many reasons for joining a group. Here are a few of them:
The larger the society the more they want to do in the way of education. Some plan a genealogy fair; others offer seminars at least once a year. Sometimes groups get together to do this sort of thing. One society that I belonged to started a fair with other societies near them. The thoughts were that if the first one wasn't successful then they wouldn't do any more. Eight years after the first genfair as it was called then, they are still doing that. They also have daylong workshops and sometimes a daylong seminar. Most societies do extraction work of some kind such as census, wills, deeds and obits as other project. These usually get published in book form although today a lot is making its way to the Internet
The large national organizations have seminars or conferences. These are usually two or three days long and lectures of all kinds go on all day long. Sometimes, these groups track some of the lectures so that one can learn about one theme by attending the whole track...for instance a track on computer genealogy or Scottish genealogy. There is usually a vendor's hall where one can go to see what is new and ask questions. Of course the vendors are all hoping that you will buy. If you have been looking for a book or CD or a special computer program, you may find it at a special price for the conference.
Why go to a seminar? I don't belong to the society and I am doing just fine thank you. How I wish I could overcome my brick wall though." These are the thoughts and remarks of some who don't or haven't gone to one of these programs. How do I find one? These are not usually publicized like a play or movie but notices appear in journals, sometime the local papers or TV just before the event. Genealogy periodicals are the best source as are some places on the Internet. The societies publishing the periodicals will mention the ones that they are going to do but will also mention the other large ones. The Calendar of Events on this web site lists those that the webmaster is aware of, and that have an "online presence".
The first big seminar that I went to was as a delegate for my society. I so thoroughly enjoyed the friendships I made, the networking that I got to do, as well as the things that I learned, that I try to make it a point to go to at least one each year. A workshop, seminar or whatever you may find, will enhance your perspective of your search. They are very much worth attending and I would urge you to find something near you or if you want to combine something into a vacation then across the country or some distance from you, then do that but DO try to attend one.