August 31, 2013

Thanks for the great conference, FGS

It’s been a week since I returned from the 2013 Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference at the Grand Wayne Convention Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and I’m still buoyed by the energy of the conference and trying to absorb what I learned. Although I didn’t have time to write daily capsules, I want to say thank you to the FGS planners, presenters, and exhibitors for a very successful conference. Here are some of the highlights of the week (in no particular order) for me:

Methodology lectures—the FGS schedule was loaded with lectures on intermediate and advanced genealogical methodology, and I tried to take full advantage of the offerings. I attended all of the presentations by Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA, and Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS. They were fantastic, as expected, and gave me much to think about. Now that I’m home, I want to refine my hastily-taken notes, burn the information into my brain, and apply the concepts to my own research.

Resource lectures—I learned about researching orphaned, surrendered, and adopted children from Jeanne L. Bloom, CG; finding and using records in upstate New York from Karen Mauer Green, CG, FGBS; and interpreting English parish registers from Paul Milner. These, too, were excellent, and I can see immediate applications with the families I’m working on. There were a number of other presentations I wanted to attend but couldn’t due to schedule overlaps—a quandary at any good conference. Hopefully, I’ll be receiving the recordings I ordered soon.

Exhibit Hall treasures—the spacious exhibit hall was filled with booksellers, vendors, and representatives from societies, companies, and organizations aimed at the family history market. The Bureau of Land Management printed out land patent certificates from their website on parchment paper, with official seals. I now have heirloom quality certificates for three of my ancestors who bought land from the federal government. How cool is that? I enjoyed talking with FamilyTreeMagazine, the New England Historical and GenealogicalSociety, and Gary Clark of I scored color historic maps from Michiana History Publications, bargain used books from the Ohio Genealogical Society, and new ones from Maia’s Books and Family Roots Publishing. The tote bag FGS gave registrants came in pretty handy for getting everything out to the car at the end of the week.

exhibit hall FGS2013 conference

Association of Professional Genealogists luncheon—my bet is that no one in the sold-out APG luncheon audience will ever forget the clever presentation by John Philip Colletta, PhD. His phantom Power Point slides will be legendary for years to come. We’re talking laugh-so-hard-you-cry, standing ovation here. Who said genealogists don’t have a sense of humor?

Late night research party at ACPL—with the help of some tasty vegan cookies and pastries, entertainment from a Civil War-era dance group, and dozens of hardy (or crazy?) researchers, the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library rocked on Friday night. I didn’t quite make it to the midnight hour, but almost. ACPL put out the red carpet for conference attendees all week, adding a dynamic dimension to the overall experience. 

Denise Levenick (aka The Family Curator) and yours truly, late night at ACPL

Diane Loosie
FamilySearch blogger dinner—I enjoyed hearing about all the up-and-coming developments at FamilySearch, including their prototype Family Discovery Centers with oral recording studios. I met the new director of the Family History Library, Diane Loosie, who has plans for collaborative work stations and more. Paul Nauta demonstrated enhancements to their online Family Tree and told us that the 2014 Roots Tech conference will be broadcast in 600 satellite locations around the world. Wow!

Talking and visiting with friends, old and new—a genealogy conference offers a chance to “talk shop” with others who share a passion for family history. From each other, we pick up stories, ideas, and strategies. I’ve met a number of people at conferences that I now consider good friends. We talk, laugh, offer support, and have a good time. Since genealogy is usually a solitary pursuit, it’s nice to have a chance to get together.

On Saturday afternoon, D. Joshua Taylor announced that donors to the War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions fund, together with matching pledges from FGS and, had raised over $92,000 at the conference. This money will go toward digitizing War of 1812 pension files at the National Archives. The images will be made available free of charge on indefinitely. Now that’s a win-win situation.

Congratulations to the team of hard-working volunteers who made this year’s FGS Conference such an enjoyable and productive one. Fort Wayne was a delight to visit. Well done!



  1. Shelley, it was a great time at FGS. I'm just now beginning to come back down to earth!

    1. I know exactly what you mean, Connie. It was great meeting you!

  2. Thanks, Shelley, I love this sort of post that gives an insight into events that one is unable to attend.

    1. So glad to know you enjoyed it, Jill. I hope one day we can meet each other, even though we live half a world apart. Thanks for reading!


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