FEDERATION OF GENEALOGICAL SOCIETIES (FGS)
ANNUAL CONFERENCE, KNOXVILLE, TN
18-21 AUGUST 2010
I submitted a delegate's report to the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists this morning, and thought it might interest some of my readers as well so I'm adding a few photos and personal thoughts here.
I drove down with two good friends, my geneababes. We had a great time talking and the time passed rather quickly. We stopped overnight in Winchester, VA and we drove through some nasty rainstorms.
A total of 1,800 people participated in the conference: of those about 1,000 were registered. The others consisted of volunteers, speakers, librarians, and about 500 beginning genealogists who attended a special Ancestry.com event on Saturday.
On Tuesday, 17 August, the day before the FGS conference, the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) sponsored a Professional Management Conference (PMC). Directed at those who operate genealogy businesses, the day was split between a morning session for all, and two afternoon tracks. In the morning, Laura Prescott, APG President, presented “From the Trenches: How We Manage Clients, Time and Projects.” Laura’s presentation was filled with practical ideas on how to get your desktops (real and virtual) organized, and how to control the use of your time. She featured photos of colleagues offices and had participants guess which one belonged to whom!
At lunch, I hosted a table for “The Part-Time Genealogist” and we discussed juggling our businesses with some other time-consuming component: in my case, family!
After lunch I attended Anne J. Miller, PhD’s “Overcoming Obstacles that Interfere with Genealogical Research,” which focused on psychological aspects of problem-solving techniques, especially the concept of divergent vs. convergent thinking. Very interesting!
Next, Paula Stuart Warren, CG’s session on “Niche Planning and Marketing” encouraged us to develop a niche. Paula brought home her marketing points by singing the first half of some well-known jingles, such as “plop plop, fizz, fizz…” and having us finish them.
For a detailed syllabus, visit http://www.apgen.org/conferences/index.html.
Wednesday, Society Day
The first day of the conference is traditionally dedicated to talks on managing genealogical societies. The Opening Session featured Curt Witcher on “SOS! SOS! Saving Our Societies: Answering Our Distress Beacons,” and focused on ridding boards of toxic officers! Sadly, I missed this one due to a brief illness. Curt also mentioned the need for many states to send a liaison to the FGS RPAC (Records Preservation and Access Committee), Massachusetts being one of them. If you have a talent in this direction, MASSACHUSETTS NEEDS YOU! I also missed the FGS annual meeting, including the announcement of the upcoming ballot which included my own name, as I am running for the FGS Board of Directors!
One lecture I thoroughly enjoyed was Julie Miller, CG, speaking on “Firing Up the Next Generation of Genealogists!” This treated not only the educational possibilities but the sometimes frustrating task of passing on our passion to children and grandchildren. I also attended Josh Taylor’s “Reaching Out: Beyond Your Society’s Doors,” which examined ways in which to engage more people in your society, primarily using modern technological methods of communication such as social networking. Jana Broglin gave a great lecture on “Tips for Planning a Successful Seminar,” which will be extremely helpful. Finally, Lori Thornton spoke on “Organizing Your Society’s Library and Archives,” which was primarily on creating a means to catalog collections via diferent methods, online or software.
Thursday’s Keynote Session was a very amusing “feud” between Tennesse[e?!]an Mark Lowe (Davy Crocket) and Kentuckian Kent Whitworth (Dan’l Boone), each of whom tried to win the audience’s affections while introducing us to the customs and range of records in their respective states. We even got to sing a few tunes! After that we were fired up for a great conference. I attended countless informative sessions, presented by some of the best genealogists in the nation, including Elizabeth Shown Mills, Tom Jones, Pamela Sayre, David Rencher, Curt Wicher, Paul Milner and Paula Stuart-Warren, to name but a few.
The Exhibit Hall was the central meeting spot, though the number of vendors seemed lower than at some conferences. I volunteered some time working at both the APG and BCG (Board for Certification of Genealogists) booths. It’s a great place to wander around, investigate member societies, try out new software, collect nametag ribbons, BUY BOOKS and network.
I attended a few of the organized meals, specifically two evening meals, both rather informal, which is not usually the case, and one luncheon hosted by APG. The dinners both made us feel fully immersed in Tennessee life and featured on Wednesday, local singer and storyteller Sheila Kay Adams, who presented “Come and Set a Spell,” an amusing look at an Appalachian “family wreath.” We visited the Museum of Appalachia on Thursday evening and enjoyed another concert as well as exhibits on all kinds of local marvels.
At the APG luncheon on Friday, Laura Prescott announced the five winners of awards for outstanding contributions to the field of genealogy. See Dick Eastman's Online Newsletter at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2010/08/apg-announces-five-award-winners.html for details. I was the lucky recipient of one of those awards for the work I did for the New England Chapter of APG as president last year, and am very honored and humbled by it all. AND, I received this award on my birthday. Doesn't get much better than that! Laura also broke the news that for the first time APG will have a presence at the “Who Do You Think You Are” conference in London, 25-27 February 2011. Interested members are encouraged to attend. Check your calendars now!
I missed the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, speaking at the FGS luncheon, but understand it was a great talk on the future of the National Archives. He disclosed that the 1940 census will not be microfilmed, but directly digitized by NARA, without the participation of any other entity such as Ancestry.com or Footnote.com. The census will be available on the internet.
On Friday evening, FGS hosted a reception to celebrate the War of 1812 digitization project. FGS is proud to be partnered with NARA in this multimillion dollar project and encourages its members to make donations to the cause which will require $3.7, or $0.50 per image (7.2 million images) to complete.
The conference finished on Saturday at 6:00pm and we relaxed and celebrated on our last night in Knoxville. The drive home was much less rainy and allowed us to see the gorgeous countryside of Tennessee, Virginia and Pennsylvania (with a bit of West Virgina and Maryland, too!)
Looking back on the conference, apart from the wonderful sessions on methodology, records and business practices, the outstanding theme of this year was social networking and efficient use of the internet. Whether you are a seasoned professional or brand new to genealogy, you will benefit from connecting with other genealogists and records via the web. It is simply no longer possible to keep up without having an online presence of some kind. But this is only because it enables a closer connection with live people, real records and archives, and learning via the experience of others. There is something for everyone at these conferences and I encourage everyone who wants to learn more about the field to attend as many of these as possible.
For more details on this conference, visit https://www.fgs.org.
Delegate for the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists