Carol Sanderson, Editor
Charles Hansen, Technical Advisor
Newsletter Archives | E-mail
We've talked about conferences here only a month or two ago. Marian described a conference, which she went to this summer. It might be described as a special conference in that the subject was the topic of the conference. These are great in that they focus on the one area of research and you learn much about the whole process.
In that same issue Charles told of an eGenConference. This was on line and one could attend the lectures at one's leisure. This was a first and there will probably be more of this kind in the future.
I was fortunate enough to attend the FGS conference in Orlando, Florida and would like to tell you something about it. First it was a four-day conference and covered a full range of subjects. The days were divided into seven time slots including the lunch break. With the exception of the lunch break most of the time slots had eight or nine lectures in them. One had a great choice.
The hotel was massive and elegant...10 stories high built in a square around an atrium. It was very nice. They had a "bistro" that was open 24 hours for food and four or five other restaurants on the ground floor. It was very tastefully decorated. The convention center area was off that and was immense also. One big room for the vendors plus a little space for those who néeded to sit and rest and have a wee bite to eat or drink. The vendors had everything from books and maps to CDs, programs and other things of interest to genealogists.
There were five or six good-sized rooms for classrooms or lecture halls whatever one wants to call them. They all would seat two to three hundred people.
The presenters (lecturers) had sent their handouts in before the conference began and they were all printed in one bound paper covered book or syllabus. I like that as one can keep them and not have to fret about losing pieces of paper. The handouts had a bibliography for that lecture.
Lectures could be used as tracks, i.e. all on genealogy on computers and the Internet, tracking ones German ancestors etc. or one could attend whichever one they felt they would like to go to. I wandered, in that I covered all of the tracks to a point. Most of the lectures are taped professionally..and one could buy the tapes. The group taping these has been doing so for more than ten years. They also do other genealogy conferences. They had with them some of the over runs from these. One can pick and choose and with the price of four for $10.00 that was a good buy.
The first day is allotted to the societies, librarians and professional genealogists. All the lectures that day are aimed at helping them to serve other people better. Others can go to these if they care to but that was my day to travel. I hadn't felt the néed to attend those as I had years ago when I was an officer of a society.
Even lunchtime was full in that there are several luncheons every day sponsored by various groups with special speakers. I went to the one sponsored by RootsWeb and their speaker, Loretto Dennis Szucs, was talking about what may be found in newspapers. Of course, since we are ancestor hunting, these are old newspapers. It was entertaining and well put together. I enjoyed that.
Friday night, after a full day of lectures, was the banquet with awards given and announcements for the next year made and then another speaker. This was John Colletta., filling in for Patrick Smith. John is a very entertaining speaker and he poked fun at himself as he went searching in rural Mississippi for one of his family lines. For those who knew that area, it was particularly funny. He did a marvelous job of describing the small town atmosphere and the people. He teaches at NARA (National Archives) and Johns Hopkins University. His books on genealogy are They Came in Ships, Finding Italian Roots, and Only a Few Bones.
Everything ends on Saturday, after a full day of lectures. It was still well attended, well presented and very enjoyable. At the end of the day, everyone goes home or someplace and collapses for a while.
I met people from the society I belonged to in FL and also met some friends from Boston MA whom I haven't seen for years. I was riding up in the elevator on my way to my room when the other person in the elevator said, "Concord...I'm from Northwood." We talked and when the elevator stopped we got out and stood talking some more exploring our common surnames. There were a lot of them. When we got tired of standing, we sat on the floor and talked some more. I know of two lines that we have where we have common ancestors. How many generations back I can't begin to guess but on my Grant line it is real close.
If you ever get a chance to take in one of these conferences, I urge you to do so. There is so much to learn, so much to see, and so much to do that it can be overwhelming if it is ones first conference.
Each of the conferences discussed here and at other times has its place in the circle of things. The pros and cons have been discussed in the other articles and now I urge each of you to make a goal of attending at least one conference a year
October is Family History Month. So how will you be celebrating? Will you work on a cemetery? Visit some older relatives? Sort and label all the pictures in your photo albums? Find sources for all the unknowns in your database? Post all your data online? Go to a genealogy seminar?
While I really néed to work on my photo albums, I will be going to the genealogy seminar our local society is putting on October 4th. It has been a practice since before I joined the society to have two seminars a year, one in October and one in April. They usually alternate so one year we have a national speaker, like you would see at one of the national conventions or local speakers talking on a common subject.
This year's seminar will have twelve speakers in four sessions talking about death and all the records generated at death. One of the speakers is a lawyer talking about probate records, there is a speaker from one of the major funeral homes on funeral home records, a speaker from the local cemetery association on cemetery records, a county worker on other death records from the courthouse, a representative from Tresko Monument Company on monuments and gravestones, a wonderful local historian from the library, and others on tombstone art, burial and funeral customs, and Causes of Death: Old Terminology.
The seminar will be at the local community college where we have had the last several seminars. They have ample room, and a cafeteria that serves a good meal for the hungry genealogists. They also have a long hall available for vendors to sell their wares.
For the first several years I was a member of the local society, I would pick and choose which of these seminars to go to. If it was an area I was not researching in, I did not go. Our society had several seminars on German research, and I was pretty sure I did not have any German ancestors so I skipped all of those seminars. My dad's family was from Denmark and New England and so no German ancestors there. I had asked my grandma on mom's side if all the ancestors there were Irish and she assured me they were all Irish or Scot-Irish so no Germans there either, but research quickly proved that was not correct.
Bette Topp, the head of our German study group, from the local society had told me I would find a German line and should come to the seminar anyway. Turned out she was correct and I did find my Scot-Irish ancestors had married, both Dutch and German ladies in North Carolina and Tennessee, and the maiden name of the German lady was Swope, one of Bette Topp's lines, and we are cousins. So don't think you will not learn anything useful at the next seminar your local society puts on, go anyway