One of the major genealogy conferences each year is that of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, or FGS. This conference always attracts 1,500 to 2,000 attendees and features more than 200 presentations, lectures, luncheons and workshops. This year's conference will be held this week, September 3 through 6, in Philadelphia.
As in past conferences, this year's event features presentations about almost every conceivable genealogy-related topic: Italian, Irish, German, Czech, Slovak, Black American, and other ethnic groups; computers; DNA; Revolutionary War; and much more. (You can find a complete list at http://www.fgsconference.org/program.)
The presenters also represent a “Who's Who in American Genealogy:” Deborah A Abbott, Dennis Ahern, Janet A. Alpert, James M. Beidler, Pamela K. Boyer, Jana Sloan Broglin, Tony Burroughs, Amy Johnson Crow, Wendy Bebout Elliott, Henry B. Hoff, John T. Humphrey, Dr. Thomas Jones, Susan D. Kaufman, “Bobbi” King, Barbara Vines Little, J. Mark Lowe, Marie Varrelman Melchiori, Julie Miller, Elizabeth Shown Mills, Paul Milner, Gary Mokotoff, Steve Morse, Elissa Scalise Powell, Christine Rose, Dr. George K. Schweitzer, Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, Paula Stuart-Warren, Maureen A. Taylor, Curt B. Witcher, and many others.
Of course, my favorite area at any conference is the exhibitors hall and this promises to be an interesting place this year. Almost every company that sells products or services to the genealogy community will be represented, including some from Ireland, England, Sweden and Germany. I expect to spend a lot of time in the exhibits hall. If you are looking for me, find the Footnote booth at booths 225 and 324 (those are actually two adjoining booths). I probably won't be far away.
The conference facility at the Philadelphia Convention Center is a first-class operation. I spent a day in this conference center last January at a non-genealogy event and was impressed. It is a very modern convention center and it is huge. In fact, I doubt if the genealogy conference being held this week will occupy more than a quarter of this convention center, if that. The Marriott Philadelphia Downtown is the official conference hotel with connecting walkway to the Pennsylvania Convention Center (PCC). The Marriott and PCC are the sites of all the seminars, luncheons and banquets.
The convention center and the adjacent conference hotel are located in downtown Philadelphia. There are several hotels within a few blocks.
I have no idea how many restaurants are within walking distance but it is obviously a large number. We won't be restricted to conference center snack bar food! I recommend walking across the street to the Reading Terminal Market. This place is filled with tiny restaurants of all sorts. You will be able to find something you like in this place! With so many small restaurants crowded into a small area, each one has to serve good food at reasonable prices in order to stay in business. Please note that the place closes promptly at 6:00 PM. I'd suggest not arriving after 5:00 PM unless you want to be rushed. This is a breakfast and luncheon place only. You can read more about the Reading Terminal Market at http://www.readingterminalmarket.org.
One thing that delights me this year is to see the conference syllabus published in electronic format. In fact, pre-registered attendees can download the syllabus now and spend as much time as needed to plan which lectures to attend. Those who wish to have printed lecture notes may print them at home before departing for the conference. This great service allows attendees to arrive in the conference city with their agendas already planned in advance. It's great to see this convenient access being offered in advance of the conference. I wish that all genealogy conferences would do the same.
All in all, the 2008 edition of the Federation of Genealogical Societies' annual conference is shaping up to be a great event. If you can be in Philadelphia this week, I'd suggest you stop in at the Convention Center to see all the attractions. If you cannot be there, I hope to write about the activities at the conference during this coming week. Stay tuned to this newsletter.
For more information about the 2008 Federation of Genealogical Societies conference, look at http://www.fgsconference.org.