A large regional genealogy conference will take place in Manchester, New Hampshire, in a few weeks. Past conferences have attracted as many as 800 genealogists, more than some of the national conferences. The 10th New England Regional Genealogical Conference, or NERGC, now looks as if it will be at least as large as the past conferences.
This is essentially a conference for all six of the New England states although the conference brochure lists some programs for other areas of the U.S. and Canada as well as for Ireland, France, and a few other countries. The conference will be on April 22-26, 2009, at the Expo Center of New Hampshire. I know this conference center well, having attended a number of events there over the past twenty years or so. (I live about an hour's drive away and for many years lived about a twenty-minute drive away. In fact, for several years my office was next door to what is now the Expo Center, but that was before the Expo Center was built.)
The adjacent Radisson Hotel Manchester will serve as the official conference hotel.
I have written several newsletter articles recently questioning the use of over-priced and over-hyped convention centers and hotels. I must say that I am pleased with the selection of the Radisson Hotel and the adjoining Expo Center of New Hampshire in downtown Manchester. It is about the perfect size for a conference of 800 to 1,000 attendees. Those attendees will also find a number of reasonably-priced hotels and restaurants within a few miles. Several restaurants are within walking distance, and two hotels are within a short walk. Anyone with an automobile will find dozens of hotels within a few miles. Manchester is a city with reasonable prices for hotels and restaurants, not as expensive as the “big city” locations. In short, I believe the Radisson Hotel and the Expo Center of New Hampshire make an excellent choice of venues.
Of course, a conference is only as good as the presenters and the vendors. In this case, the conference looks very promising. The featured speakers include James Hansen, FASG, genealogical reference librarian at the Wisconsin Historical Society; Dr. Thomas W. Jones, Ph. D., CG, CGL, co-editor of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, trustee and past president of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, a board member and former trustee of the Association of Professional Genealogists and recipient of that association's 2004 Grahame T. Smallwood Jr. Award of Merit; along with Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, author of Honoring Our Ancestors: Inspiring Stories of the Quest for Our Roots, In Search of Our Ancestors: 101 Inspiring Stories of Serendipity and Connection in Rediscovering Our Family History, and They Came to America: Finding Your Immigrant Ancestors.
The other presenters look like a "Who's Who in Genealogy," including many of the best-known speakers of today.
The conference has a "pre-conference" event on Wednesday, April 22, with Accent Your Research - Discover Treasures at the American-Canadian Genealogical Society. That location is a few blocks from the conference location. If you have French-Canadian ancestors and you have not yet been to the American-Canadian Genealogical Society, you need to attend this one! I know because I found 50% of my ancestors in that library! (My mother's ancestry is 100% French-Canadian, and I found almost all of her ancestry for more than 300 years when using the resources available at the American-Canadian Genealogical Society's library.)
The official opening of the conference will be at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 23. It strikes me that having a conference opening at 1:00 p.m. is a great idea; it allows many people to drive in that morning and still be there for the opening event.
The sessions start at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday with six simultaneous tracks most of the time, continuing through Friday and Saturday. Intermixed with the presentations will be numerous workshops, luncheons, a Friday evening banquet, and a Saturday evening banquet. Following a NERGC tradition, the closing ceremonies will be held Sunday morning.
On Thursday, April 23, from 5:15 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., there will be a “Society Fair” outside the Exhibit Hall, where genealogical/historical/family societies from all over New England will provide information about their organizations. The Society Fair is open to the general public at no cost so that anyone can make contact with society representatives, pick up brochures and registration material, or perhaps even make a more permanent connection by joining a group. All are welcome to meet and greet.
The grand opening of the exhibit hall will occur Thursday night, April 23 at 6:00 p.m. and continue until 7:30 p.m. The exhibit hall will then open at 8:15 a.m. on Friday and continue to be open until 5:00 p.m. Friday. Saturday the exhibit hall hours will be from 8:15 a.m. and will close at 4:00 p.m. NERGC is the first and only genealogical conference that offers unopposed exhibitor times, including the Grand Opening as well as on Friday and Saturday. Unopposed time is offered so that attendees are able to visit the Exhibit Hall at their leisure without having to miss any special lectures. The exhibit hall will be free and open to the public as well during the normal exhibiting hours, and this year the organizers are heavily promoting the exhibit hall to the local public. In addition, NERGC will be offering free lectures to help those that are unfamiliar with genealogy to understand what genealogy is and how they can become involved with the hobby.
I was delighted to learn that conference attendees will be given a CD-ROM syllabus although printed copies are available for an extra fee. Having a CD-ROM version is an excellent choice, in my opinion. CD-ROM disks are lightweight, easy to pack in a suitcase, and easy to store once you return home. For years, I have always thrown away the printed syllabi from all the conferences I have ever attended, usually before I checked out of the hotel. However, I have kept every CD-ROM conference syllabus I ever received. My thanks to the conference organizers for making the syllabus available on CD.
Full registration for the conference is $110 although that price will increase to $135 if you procrastinate until after February 28. You will find additional fees for the various luncheons, banquets, and other "extras." You can even register and pay online with a safe and secure shopping cart system at the NERGC web site.
All in all, this looks like an excellent conference. I have been to the last five or six NERGC conferences, and I certainly plan to attend this one. Will I see you there?
You can read more about the 10th New England Regional Genealogical Conference at http://www.nergc.org/2009. The full conference brochure is also available online at the same web site as a PDF file.
I can add a bit of supplemental information not found in the brochure for anyone traveling to Manchester. First of all, Manchester has an excellent airport. I fly out of Manchester frequently, and I find it to be much more convenient and easier to navigate than Boston's Logan Airport. If you are traveling by air, I'd suggest that you fly to Manchester, not to Boston.
Travel to Manchester by rail is impossible as the city has no regularly-scheduled train service. You can take Amtrak to Boston and then switch to a bus or limo for the ride to Manchester. I'd suggest that you will find it much easier to fly directly to Manchester and then take a taxi to the hotel.
Driving to Manchester is easy: Interstates 93 and 293 serve the city well.
Next, you can find two major hotels within walking distance of the conference site. A search on Google finds several other small, independently-owned hotels nearby, but I have no knowledge of them and am hesitant to recommend any of them. The following are national chains and should be good ones, if more expensive:
Radisson Hotel Manchester is the official conference hotel and is adjacent to the convention center.
700 Elm St # 1, Manchester, NH
All rooms include high-speed Internet capabilities at an extra fee.
Rooms are $149 per night on the hotel's web site; but, when making reservations online, be sure to enter the group code NERGC to get a special NERGC rate. I made a reservation on the hotel's web site; when I entered the group code, the web site told me the price would be $0.00 per night. I don't believe that, but I made the reservation anyway!
Hilton Garden Inn Manchester Downtown
101 South Commercial Street, Manchester, NH
0.4 miles away, according to Google Maps
FREE high speed Internet connections in every room
$101 a night (advance purchase via the hotel's web site)
Dozens of other hotels can be found at http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=hotels+near+manchester,+nh&sll=42.97345,-71.448705&sspn=0.039878,0.078192&ie=UTF8&z=13, but most will require an automobile to commute back and forth daily to the conference center.
- The prices mentioned above were listed on each hotel's web site at the time I checked. However, hotel room prices vary constantly. The above prices may be typical but might be higher or lower when you check.
- Discounts may be available for each hotel's frequent guest program as well as for AAA, AARP, or other groups.
- Lowest prices are usually found on each hotel's web site; prices at Hotels.com, Travelocity.com, Expedia.com, etc. tend to be higher. Still, it never hurts to check multiple web sites.
- While Internet access may be listed above as being available for a fee, many hotels will offer the same service free of charge to members of the hotel's frequent guests program.
- Internet access may be available in lobby areas but not always in the rooms. Always check the hotel's web site for details.