Monday, September 12, 2011

After the Archives - FGS Conference 2011

Nametag and my geneablogger beads

After leaving the State Archives, I headed for the Prairie Capitol Convention Center and there I registered for Friday so I would be all set and wouldn't have to worry about a line.  Even though the registration lady had just packed everything away for the day, she allowed me to register and handed me a zippered  tote filled with the schedule of classes and assorted other papers.  I would have to pick up my nametag tomorrow.  Next I sent a text to Susan of Nolichucky Roots because I missed lunch and we planned to meet for dinner.  She was in class, and I wanted to check out the vendor mall. I was hoping for a demo of the Flip-Pal scanner and wanted to see if the Newberry Library had any genealogy programs that would entice me to make a trip to Chicago.  Because many attendees were in classes, it was easy to get up to the booths and talk to the vendors.  Three of us paused at the Flip-Pal booth and saw the samples and a brief demo.  While it was very appealing, I just couldn't bring myself to spend $150 yet. After circling most of the vendor area, I was standing in front of the Family Search booth when I received a text from Susan.  We went back and forth a  few times, and then I turned around and looked at the back of the person behind me.  "Susan?"  She turned, and we both started laughing.  The evening ended with dinner and a Geneablogger get together.

Back at my hotel, I planned to look over the conference guide and decide which classes I would attend the next day.  This was my ONE day so I wanted to fill it . . .and I did.

Class #1 - Irish Emigration to North America: Before, During, and After the Famine. Paul Milner   Being a newcomer to the land of conferences, I had never heard any of the speakers before.  Paul Milner is an outstanding speaker who filled his lecture with humor as he explained the migration patterns as well the events that influenced them.  Highly recommended. Since I arrived just as it was beginning, the room was already full and so I took a seat on the floor leaning against the wall.

Class#2 -  Pioneer Genealogy:  Tracing Your Ancestors on the Midwestern Frontier. James Hansen.  This was in the same room but I didn't notice that until I left the room and then had to get in line to get back in.  This time I had a seat and the room was packed. Without any slides, he kept everyone's interest.  Great speaker.

Class #3 - Using Records in the National Archives: A Researcher's View. Marie Varrelman.  Oh my, the level for this was listed as "All" but I was WAY over my head.  The National Archive has always beckoned to me, but after this class, I am more than a little overwhelmed.

 I had lunch with Susan and, of course, our conversation was all about our classes. The one person she recommended and told me that I had to hear if I ever had the chance was Thomas Jones.  So I pulled out the Conference Guide to check the afternoon classes.  What luck, Thomas Jones was one of the choices for the first session after lunch.  "Get there early. It will be packed" she warned.  She was right.

Class #4  Using 'Correlation' to Reveal Facts That No Record States. Thomas Jones.  This was fabulous and his examples were in order of increasing complexity.  I loved this lecture.  Mr. Jones told us that this was a new presentation for him and that we were his first audience for this lecture.  Wow.  The following day, a person demonstrating  in the Family Search booth told me that Mr. Jones would be in Salt Lake this Fall and they intended to tape this lecture and make it available for free online.  Look for it by December.  Don't miss this one.

Class #5 - Gateway to the West: Researching in Ohio. Diane VanSkiver Gagel  My brain was beginning to turn to mush by this point but enjoyed the information in this lecture.  A number of my ancestors lived in Ohio and several brick walls reside in this state.

Class #6 -  Using City Directories:  Following a Family's Migration From Ohio to Illinois. Deborah Abbott  I am a  fan of City Directories and hoped to get some new information.  Mostly it was a review of what I already knew, but for anyone who hadn't used them, it should have inspired them to search out city directories for their ancestors.

By the end of this day, I was exhausted.  When Susan asked if I wanted to join them at the banquet for dinner, I chose to drive back to my hotel.  I was asleep by 8:30.

Saturday was my last day and I with a five hour drive home, I wanted to leave by early afternoon.  My one and only class was by Paul Milner, Irish Maps and Tools for Finding the Right Place. It was just as fantastic as the first one. Ireland can be very confusing and Mr. Milner had numerous resources for maps many newly online. I decided to order a copy of the lecture because I knew there was just too much information for my skimpy notes to do justice.

It will take a while for me to sift through all of the new information and resources but it was a wonderful experience and well worth the time and cost.  If you have ever thought about a national conference, take a chance. You don't have to go for the whole time, you too can just dip your toe in.  This may have been my first conference, but it won't be my last.


  1. Great recap, Margel! I really enjoyed meeting you at the conference!

  2. SOLD! I can't wait to attend my first ever national conference!

    Are you interested in attending the National Genealogical Society conference in Cincinnati May 9-12, 2012 with me?


  3. My goodness you did pack a lot into a short amount of time! It was great to see you.

  4. I can tell I missed an opportunity to meet some of my favorite bloggers. I live in Cincinnati and I'm really looking forward to the NGS conference next May. The more the merrier!

  5. It was such fun sharing our 1st conference. Here's to many more!