What makes a genealogy conference truly outstanding? It takes more than perfect-temperature lecture rooms to pull off a successful event.
I haven’t “attended” a genealogy conference in a long time, and when family plans changed for the last week of August I was quick to shift gears and register for the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2016 national conference in Springfield, Illinois. It felt like a vacation.
A conference experience is different when you’re a registered attendee, not a presenter, exhibitor, or volunteer. Yes, conferences can be expensive in time and funds, so you try to do it all. And for my two cents, FGS 2016 was worth every Lincoln penny. In fact, FGS 2016 delivered more than promised, and I came home feeling recharged and ready to move forward toward 2017.
To my mind, a truly exceptional conference offers something for every genealogist, and maybe something extra for any tag-along family members. The program committee is challenged to select great speakers on a variety of topics that will appeal to researchers of all skill levels. The exhibit hall needs to be filled with exciting new resources and informative favorites. Luncheons and banquets have to entertain and sustain attendees. And hopefully, a thread of local interest presentations and research opportunities will make this conference unique. This conference rocked it ALL!
Exceptional speakers shared resources that will push forward my research on midwestern railroad records, family manuscripts, regional records, and more. I loved listening to new versions of favorite lectures where I always learn something new. The venue was convenient. Local repositories were helpful and accommodating. And it was especially great to spend time with old and new friends.
Although I couldn’t add an extra research week to the trip, I found a few free hours to visit some of the places my ancestor Samuel Chamblin would have known when he lived in Springfield in the mid-nineteenth century.
As the hotelkeeper at the Globe Tavern Hotel, my 3rd great grandfather “may” have known the Lincolns during their Springfield years, possibly during one of their stays at the Globe Hotel. Hint: I’m looking forward to sharing a most surprising discovery made in the files at Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.
Thank you FGS 2016. I can’t wait for FGS 2017 in Pittsburgh.
I have included your blog in Interesting Blogs at Friday Fossicking
Thank you, Chris
Clytee Gold says
I would like to also add that I LOVED the Springfield FGS Conference.
I was the grandma with my 10-year-old grandson, and attending this conference exceeded my expectations for how it would go with my grandson. It’s a smaller, friendlier, slower paced conference than my major reference point – RootsTech.
I’m grateful for the the “student registration” so I could bring him at an affordable rate, I am grateful to the exhibitors who were friendly and kind to him, I’m grateful to the people who came up and talked to him and encouraged him, I’m grateful to the local society leaders who asked him how to engage young people. I’m grateful for those that sat with us at the banquet and a lunch that engaged him.
I did not get one negative comment about him being there, only encouragement. He may not really be a genealogist, but he believes he is and claims he is, and really, isn’t that the first step? He (mostly) sat through 5 hours of lectures plus the opening keynote, which he greatly enjoyed, and the banquet which he loved.
Thank you FGS for putting your money where your mouth is, and welcoming a potential next generation genealogist.
Clytee Kleager Gold and Gabe Hansen
It’s wonderful to hear about your positive experience at FGS2016, Clytee and Gabe! I am only sorry I missed meeting you both in person. Perhaps Gabe will apply for the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Student Genealogy Grant in a few years; we love the energy and ideas that young genealogist bring to our community. Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm. I will watch for you at the next conference!