Monday, August 13, 2007

Genealogy Conferences

The first national genealogy conference that I attended was the NGS Conference in the States in Nashville, Tennessee in May 1996. It just so happened that I had to go to Ardmore, Alabama (a couple hours south of Nashville on the Tennessee/Alabama state line) to do some training for the company I worked for and was able to arrange it so that I could go down there a few days before the conference. Nice.

There was another reason for wanting to go to Nashville. I knew that my 3rd Great Grandfather, Jacob Wise, had died in a Nashville hospital towards the end of the Civil War and was buried in the National Cemetery there. I wanted to find his grave and also see if I could find any information about the Civil War era hospitals. For those reasons alone, the trip was a success. Attending the lectures was icing on the cake!

Since then I've only attended local and regional conferences such as those sponsored by the Indiana Genealogical Society (IGS) and the Ohio Genealogical Society (OGS). The IGS conferences are one day affairs, on a Saturday, and are in a different location within the state each year. This year it was, conveniently for me, at that Allen County Public Library (ACPL). The OGS conference has some events on Thursday afternoon with the lectures on Friday and Saturday so it is a bit more expensive, but still quite reasonable.

The June 2006 NGS Conference in the States was in Chicago and I was able to attend on Friday and Saturday. The schedule at work just didn't allow for taking off Wednesday and Thursday but I just couldn't pass it up completely. Highlights of that conference, for me, were the presentations by Stephen Morse on how to get more out of search applications and creating one-step search tools. And I really enjoyed Rhonda McClure's ideas on using scanners for objects, not just pictures and documents.

And, this week is the FGS/ACPL Conference in Fort Wayne, A Meeting at the Crossroads of America!, which I'm planning to attend. The problem that I have is in deciding which lectures to attend. There are a couple of hours where there isn't really anything of interest to me but many of the session times have more than one lecture that is of interest. How to choose? Decisions, decisions!

Of course, there is more to going to a conference that simply attending the lectures. The opportunities to meet other researchers - remember to say hello and introduce yourself to the people sitting next to you in those lectures, you never know, it could be someone related to you! Then there are the temptations of the vendor booths in the exhibit hall ready and willing to take your hard-earned money and the demonstrations of new products.

My plans, aside from attending lectures, are to:
  • check out the new version of Legacy due out in October
  • attend the Footnote members meeting (I had to select an alternate date/time - the one session they had planned was filled up quickly and they added four more meetings!)
  • check out the presentations at The Generations Network (hopefully those presentations will coincide with the times when none of the conference lectures are of interest to me)
I'm not going to 'blog the conference' as it is happening, my laptop computer is old and does not have wireless internet access. Besides, I don't want to lug it around during the conference anyway. I am hoping to do some posts in the evenings but it's about an hours drive from downtown Fort Wayne to where I live, depends upon how tired I am when I get home.

What amazes me is the number of members of my local genealogy society who are NOT going to attend this conference. Only three others, that I know of, have said they are going. I wonder why that is? Those that I asked said they just didn't want the bother, it's too far to drive everyday. Huh? For most of them it's less than half an hour. If you lived within an hours drive wouldn't you want to attend? They didn't go to the IGS Conference in April either. Most of them are retired, and I don't think the cost is an issue for them either. I just don't get it. Oh well, their loss. I'm looking forward to this event, learning about new resources, meeting some of the presenters, and perhaps making a new friend or two.

Online registration is no longer available but you can register onsite at the Grand Wayne Convention Center. You don't have to attend all four days - single day registration is available. Check out the lecture schedule, I'm sure you will find something that grabs your attention.

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