June 15, 2013

What I hope to learn at the FGS 2013 Conference

In a little over two months, I’ll be packing my bags and heading to Ft. Wayne, Indiana, for the FGS 2013 Conference. The Federation of Genealogical Societies has assembled an impressive line-up of speakers and events for this year’s conference, and I’m really looking forward to it. A few weeks ago, in “Why Attend a Genealogy Conference?,” I talked about my reasons for going to conferences, particularly FGS 2013. As the August 21 start date is getting closer, I’m thinking more and more about how I’ll use my time in Ft. Wayne to help my genealogical research. 

First off, I want to learn more about my ancestors. I have to admit that the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library (ACPL) is a huge draw for me. I’ve only been there once, and didn't come close to getting through everything I wanted to do. If you haven’t researched there before, you’re in for a treat. Their collection is amazing—resource books from every state in the U.S. and around the world, a ton of family histories, loads of microfilm, and all the periodicals that make up the PERSI index. It’s all easily accessible and laid out quite logically, so you can quickly get down to work after a short introductory tour. If you have any questions as you go along, the friendly Genealogy Center librarians are right there to help you out.

Genealogy Center Allen County Public Library

Getting a tour of the Genealogy Center

Harold Henderson has written a helpful guide to ACPL, Finding Ancestors in Ft. Wayne, that you can download for free on his website, Midwest Roots. Over the next few weeks I plan to scour the ACPL catalogs and databases he describes and come up with a research battle plan. I especially want to spend some time on PERSI (Periodical Source Index) and make a list of articles in genealogical journals, newsletters, and magazines to look at. I’m driving to Ft. Wayne on Monday morning, even though the conference doesn’t start until Wednesday, so I can have extra time in the library to research. The Genealogy Center is staying open until midnight for three nights of the conference, so I’ll probably hang out there some evenings, too.

Of course, once the conference starts, I’ll be spending most of my time in the class sessions. I’ve been pouring over the program schedule and trying to make up my mind about which sessions I want to attend—not an easy task, given that each time period has eight choices! So I’m trying to think about what I’d like to learn. FGS has conveniently broken things into tracks, which helps a lot in this process. Here’s some of the things I hope to learn about, and a small sampling of presentations I’m torn between:

  • How to find information (Records, Online Resources, Midwest, and Midwest Repositories tracks)—"Loc.gov: Using Our Nation's Library Online" by Laura Prescott, and “Who, What, Why, When, Where, and How of American Divorce” by Judy Russell
  • How to analyze and correlate evidence (Methodology track)— “Trousers, Beds, Tacks & Housekeeping Bills: Problem-Solving with Trivial Details” by Elizabeth Shown Mills, “Tips and Tools for Planning and Tracking Research” by Debbie Parker Wayne, “A Wife, or Rather a Woman: Identifying the Wife of Edward Worthington, Kentucky Pioneer” by Karen Mauer Green (I do love a good case study), and “Organizing Evidence to Overcome Record Shortages” by Thomas W. Jones
  • How to track ancestors from one place to another (Immigration/Migration, Transportation, German, European, and British Isles tracks)—“Passenger Arrival Records, Colonial Times to Mid-20th Century” by John Colletta, “English Parish Registers: How to Access, Use, and Interpret” by Paul Milner, “Methods for Identifying the German Origins of American Immigrants” by Michael Lacopo, and “Whiskey, Brandy, and Family Migration” by J. Mark Lowe (doesn’t that sound like fun?)
  • How to use some new tools (Technology and Genetics tracks)—“Going Nuclear: DNA Discoveries to Trace All Lines of Descent” by Debbie Wayne Parker, and "Evernote for Every Genealogist" by Cyndi Ingle Howells 
  • How to write more effectively (Writing, Speaking, and Publishing track)—“Creating Family Histories for Future Generations” by Tom Jones, and "Family History Writing Made Easier: Cloud-based Tools Every Genealogist Can Use" by Lisa Alzo

Whew--and I’ve just scratched the surface! I haven’t even mentioned the Military, African American, Ethnic Origins, NARA/Federal, and Religious Communities tracks, or any of the society-oriented tracks. I can see I’ve got my work cut out for me trying to reach some decisions between now and the third week of August. Take a look at the daily program schedule for yourself, and you’ll see what I mean.

The FGS 2013 Conference will be held at the Grand Wayne Convention Center from Wednesday-Saturday, August 21-24. If you haven’t registered yet, now is the perfect time. Special early bird discounts are in effect until July 1st. You’ll save $50 on the full conference and $20 on a single day if you sign up by then. Visit the conference website at https://www.fgsconference.org to register.

Oh, and be sure to subscribe to the FGS Conference Blog for helpful tips and recommendations. It’s the best way to stay up to date and find out about things, like Paula Stuart-Warren’s recent post, “The syllabus is the key to the presentation.” Scroll through the index to find lots of good stuff.

But enough about me. What do you hope to learn at FGS 2013?

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  1. Oh, Shelley, at this point, I just hope to get there! :)

  2. Shelley, Thank you for giving us all this material to help us prepare for FGS 2013. I would love to look at some of their South Carolina family histories (there must be about 100 surnames there I'm related to). And I'd love to hear the sessions on DNA. It sounds like such a rich opportunity!


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