Perhaps 800 to 1,000 genealogists will gather this week in Manchester, New Hampshire, for NERGC. That's the New England Regional Genealogical Conference. Operating with a theme of Discovering Family Treasures, this conference will probably be the largest genealogy conference of the year to be held in the northeastern United States.
The New England Regional Genealogical Conference is sponsored by a consortium of more than twenty genealogy societies. With this much expertise and manpower to draw on, you know these folks can put on a first-class conference! They have done so in the past, and I suspect this year's conference will be at least as good as the past events.
The conference will feature a special Librarians' and Teachers' Day on Thursday, April 23, to be held at the Radisson Hotel Manchester, adjacent to the Expo Center of New Hampshire. It starts with Beau Sharbrough's opening talk, A Mile Wide and An Inch Deep (that's a reference to the Internet). Midge Frazel will follow with Digital Storytelling: Learning, Teaching, and Community. A luncheon will be sponsored by ProQuest with Bill Forsyth of that company offering a presentation after the meal. The afternoon will feature Connie Reik speaking on Uncovering Family History in Federal Documents & Publications followed by Thomas F. Howard speaking on Bringing it All Together: Genealogy as a Tool for Librarians and Teachers.
The conference's regular sessions will also start on Thursday at the Expo Center of New Hampshire with Dan Lynch hosting a Getting Started in Genealogy — The Basics workshop. Dan has been well-known in genealogy circles for years but most recently has become known for the book he recently wrote, Google Your Family Tree. The grand opening of the conference will be held at 1:00 PM and will be followed by a long list of presenters in six simultaneous tracks all Thursday afternoon, all day Friday, and all day Saturday. The list of presenters reads like a "Who's Who in Genealogy." Many of the best-known presenters of today will be speaking in New Hampshire. The full list of all presenters and their talks is much too large to list here, but you can find the complete list, along with descriptions of each talk, at http://nergc.org/2009.
The six simultaneous tracks include: New England Research, Case Studies, French-Canadian Research, Fleshing Out Your Ancestors' Lives, Multicultural Genealogy, and Stretching Your Research Skills.
Among my favorite talks will be the sessions on French-Canadian genealogy. In the last half of the nineteenth century and throughout the early twentieth century, Manchester was the destination of tens of thousands of immigrants from the French-speaking areas of Canada. If you pick up the Manchester phone book and thumb through it today, you'll notice that probably half the residents have French surnames, the descendants of those immigrants. One of the finest French-Canadian genealogy libraries in North America is in the city at the American-Canadian Genealogical Society, one of the co-sponsors of this conference. In fact, there are two 2-hour workshops on French-Canadian genealogy on Wednesday, the day before the conference opens. That library will be open to conference visitors on Wednesday afternoon and evening with a shuttle running to and from the conference hotel.
The city also has a large Greek population and also became the home of newly-arrived immigrants from numerous other countries.
The conference will conclude with a banquet on Saturday evening although there will be a closing ceremony on Sunday morning for those who plan on staying over before proceeding home on Sunday.
The Exhibit Hall will be open from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM on Thursday, then will reopen at 8:15 AM on Friday and will remain open all day Friday and Saturday. Various luncheons will be held throughout the conference.
I have attended the last several NERGC conferences and have enjoyed every one. I expect to be at this week's conference as well. After all, it is only a bit more than an hour's drive from my home.
Late April is a great time to visit New Hampshire. The springtime weather is mild but brisk, and the trees are just beginning to bud. A few early flowers have already appeared.
Manchester is an excellent city to visit. It is easily reached by automobile or airline. Several airlines service the city, and its airport is a pleasant place. Continental Airlines, Delta, United, US Airways, Southwest, and Air Canada all fly to and from Manchester.
I frequently fly in and out of Manchester on my trips and find it is a much easier airport to use than Boston's Logan Airport, and it's only 55 miles away. In fact, you can also fly to Boston and then take a shuttle bus to Manchester. However, I wouldn't do that. I think you'll find it much easier to fly directly to Manchester. You can also reach Manchester by bus, but not by train.
If you can be in Manchester, New Hampshire, this week, I would strongly recommend that you stop in and visit this excellent genealogy conference. If you cannot attend, stay tuned to this newsletter as I hope to write about the events. I'll take a camera along as well, so perhaps you will see a few pictures on the newsletter's web site at http://www.eogn.com.
See you in Manchester!