Tuesday, November 18, 2014

FGS Ambassador: Plan Ahead for FGS 2015

4 full days.  11 hours a day.  23 Tracks.  43 speakers.  97 sessions plus another 6 for an additional cost during lunch.  Then add an Exhibit Hall with wall to wall vendors showcasing their genealogy goodies.  On top of that, just steps away is the Family History Library with the largest collection of genealogy resources in the world.  How does someone attending the combined conference of Federation of Genealogical Societies and Roots Tech in February do it all?

Easy Answer:  Don’t even try. 

When I attended the National Genealogical Society Conference in Richmond this past May, I sat in on a session every single hour my first day.  The second day, I was already dragging.  The result?  I skipped out on sessions that could have been very worthwhile opting instead for an icy diet Pepsi and a stroll through the Exhibit Hall.  I vowed that I would be better prepared to be a GOOD conference attendee the next time.

I think that attending 1 or 2 sessions in the morning and 1 or 2 in the afternoon would be plenty for a day.  The rest of the day I would check out the Exhibit Hall more slowly and thoughtfully than I did in Richmond.  I’d actually stop and look at the books instead of thinking, “Oh ok more books.  Yeah. Yeah.  I wonder what’s over there on the other side.” 

I’d also set aside a day to visit the Family History Library.  Whether I should devote a full day or just half day, I don’t know. 

In deciding which sessions to attend, my gut feeling is to say, “Focus on a particular track” and attend just those.  That would be fairly easy for me to do with the upcoming FGS Conference because there are some tracks that don’t pertain to my research, such as Missionaries & Settlers and Ethnic Groups in the West.  I’m not a society leader, so I could easily eliminate The 21st Century Geneological Society, Recruiting & Engaging, Society Leaders & Visionaries, and Benefits & Projects. 

Since I am weak in technology, I would use this conference to focus on sessions in the Technology track as well as those under Modern Access to Vintage Resources.  As confused as I am about DNA, I’d want to be sure to schedule that as well.

Wednesday:  This is Society Day, so most of the sessions hold little interest for me.  This would be a good day for the Family History Library and a lot of browsing in the Exhibit Hall.  But since Lisa Louise Cooke has a class at 10:45 called “How the Genealogist Can Remember Everything with Evernote,” I could shop in the Exhibit Hall in the morning, take this class, and then head to the library in the afternoon.

11:00 – “Researching Your War of 1812 Ancestor” presented by Craig Scott.  He’s a dynamic presenter, very funny too.  His presentation in Richmond on the Militia made me a fan, and I’ve done a lot of research on my Revolutionary War ancestors since then.
1:30 –  “Bridging the Gap: Tracing US Ancestors Between 1780 and 1840” presented by Joshua Taylor.  He’s a mover and shaker in the genealogy world, so this is a MUST ATTEND for me.  
3:00 –  Possibly I’d attend “Documenting Your Family Heirlooms” presented by Jennifer Alford.  I THINK I know how, but I’m interested in what methods I might have overlooked.
4:30 – “After You’re Gone: Future Proofing Your Genealogy Research” presented by Thomas MacEntee.  It’s THOMAS.  Of course, I would attend this one and sit up front.  It’s THOMAS, after all.  Helloooo.

10:30 – “Gentleman Judges: Justices of the Peace.”  Two good reasons to attend this session are that I have several JPs in my family tree AND it’s presented by Judy Russell.  You know her – the Legal Genealogist.   ‘nuff said
4:00 – “Love and Loss in the Family Album: A Recipe for Finding the Truth” presented by Maureen Taylor. It’s the Photo Detective!  She will be presenting a case study, which teaches by example.  I really like that approach.

This is a big technology day, so now it’s more difficult to decide.
10:30 – Mark Lowe will present “Comparing Records With Vintage Tools and High Tech Resources.”
1:00 –  CeCe Moore is the expert on how DNA and genealogy work together, so her presentation would be a MUST for me:  “The Power of DNA: Introduction to Genetic Genealogy.”
2:30 – One of the FGS and Roots Tech combined sessions “Nifty & Powerful Technologies for Genealogical Analysis & Documentation” might be too techy and too tricky for me, but I do want to know what possibilities exist to enhance my research.
4:00 – Another FGS/Roots Tech presentation concerns the latest happenings at Family Tree DNA:  “5 Fun New Ways to Improve Your Genealogical Research.”  Since I’m participating in a couple of DNA tests through FTDNA, I’d like to learn more.

If you’re even thinking about going to the conference in February, study the program schedule available on the FGS website.  A conference this big can be overwhelming.  It’s smart to plan, but be warned:  a dynamic speaker, a conversation with a vendor, or a meet-up with another blogger or distant cousin can take you in a different direction.  Of course, that could be a good thing too.

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. Such a great post----soooo wish you could be there.

    1. Me too -- but do you think we'd actually get anything done?? We might talk too much.

  2. I have a few JP's in my tree, too. All of this sounds so interesting but, alas, I won't be there :-(

  3. On my bucket list :)
    You've inspired me!