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.