Friday, July 29, 2011

Opinions Solicited on FGS Conference

I have been weighing the pros and cons of attending the FGS convention in Springfield, IL, Sept 7-10 and would appreciate your wisdom in this regard.

Even if I get no opinions, I am hoping that by writing it down, I will be better able to decide what would be best for me.

Here are the facts:
 * I have asked my local genealogy group if anyone was interested in attending and sharing expenses.  No one has replied.
* Springfield is a five hour drive, and I would be driving by myself most probably.  Cost of gas will be about $80.
* I investigated taking the train just because it sounded like a great adventure, but the train was very full and the time would be several hours longer. It still sounds like fun!
* I am only willing to take 1-2 days off work (I am a teacher) so that means I would be there Friday and Saturday if I leave right after school on Thurs.
* I have missed the deadline to get a better rate and also to get a discount for volunteering which as a single attendee was very appealing.
* Unless you attend the entire convention, single days are $99 each so $198 ( the entire convention is $235).  I have considered attending the lectures for only one day and then going to the vendor mall on the other reducing my cost by $99.  Can you attend a luncheon on a day you are not registered ( such as my vendor mall day) because that really appeals to me, but not if I only have one day?
* Hotel rooms for two nights are approx. $116 each night, and I assume tax on top of that. I wrote to the designated person who is working with individuals who want a roommate, but have not heard anything yet.  Maybe the fact that I told her I snore (so I am told) has something to do with that.  Besides, I only will need Thursday and Friday nights.
*  Food - I have no idea how to estimate this but I am sure it won't come cheap.  How in the world did our ancestors pack food to take on a 4-6 week journey to the United States?

As you can see, the costs have mounted and nothing yet adds to my family history research.  Why then do I want to go?

*  I have many ancestors from Illinois, but predominantly from the Chicago area.  Will this still be a benefit?
* I have attended local genealogy days at the library and enjoyed it tremendously.  This should be that experience on steroids.  I have found a number of  lectures that sound interesting.
*  Are the military records for Spanish American War veterans here or at NARA? Records at the Illinois State Archives would be available.  I think the muster in and out records are there. 
*  There are many vendors that I want to see and talk to - Newberry Library, Illinois State Genealogical Society, Roots Magic, NARA, Flip Pal, etc.  Spending a day in the vendor mall will be easy.
*  If I like this shortened experience, then I would feel more comfortable planning to attend a full conference such as NGS in Cincinnati next May which is also about five hours from my home.
* I am sure that there are more but this will have to do for now.

If you are going, I would like to know how you decided.  Do you attend conferences often?  What am I missing in my considerations????


  1. These are all good considerations. The only thing I might add is the potential of meeting other genealogy bloggers. I have found these casual meetings and meals to be very fun and valuable to my own conference experience. Also, the vendor hall at a conference of this caliber is key. There will be the big vendors, but also some smaller local ones that pertain to your interests.

    If you decide to go, I hope to see you there!

  2. I just returned from the much smaller Family History Expo in Kansas City and am looking forward to Springfield. Your reasoning is spot on. It is expensive and that has to be a consideration. I spent more money than I expected in KC and will have to be more disciplined in Springfield. I'm thinking a cooler with breakfast foods and sandwich ingredients.

    This was the first overnight meeting I've attended and was generally a positive experience. The classes sparked new ideas and approaches to some of my most obsteperous ancestors. Meeting other researchers and family historians was lovely. Many ideas and suggestions were exchanged over lunch or sitting in the halls before the classes. I believe a conference a year or more likely every other year would energize and help organize my efforts.

    Going forward my decisions will be made based on location (distance and whether it is of genealogical interest) and budget. Meanwhile, hope to see you in Springfield!

  3. I have just discovered that Ancestry will have classes/lectures on Sat. I missed the Ancestry Day in Ft. Wayne due to a vacation, but they are only $20 and so a really good value. (Let's not mention this would mean an additional hotel night) I think I need to investigate a less expensive hotel and drive in each morning. I really do want to go.