This year's event was co-sponsored by the East Tennessee Historical Society and by the Kentucky Historical Society. Together, these organizations produced a first-class event in a very nice, modern facility.
I wandered around for four days, attending presentations, attending luncheons, snapping pictures, and talking with lots of people. I also hosted about 35 people at dinner on Saturday evening, although I will write about that in a separate article.
The one buzzword that I heard over and over again was "wiki." This was fueled primarily by the new FamilySearch wiki that seems to be expanding faster than a helium-filled balloon. However, other wikis were mentioned, and a number of other organizations apparently are planning to create wikis for their own purposes.
Attendance at this year's FGS conference was smaller than previous conferences, probably around 1,000 people or so. That's no surprise as Knoxville is a smaller city, not in the middle of a major metropolitan area. In short, there are fewer potential attendees living within convenient driving distance. Therefore, the attendance was predictably smaller than that of some past events held in major cities.
The number of exhibitors also was less than some previous years. Some "big names" elected to skip the conference entirely while others sent fewer employees than normal.
FamilySearch and Ancestry.com both had very large exhibits and lots of employees in attendance. Both held "side events" and workshops that attracted many conference attendees. Ancestry.com's scanning crew was in attendance, and one additional big scanner was also supplied by FamilySearch. These scanners seemed to be in constant operation.
Ancestry.com held a workshop for the company's customers and anyone else interested on Saturday morning. I didn't hear the attendance numbers, but it must have been in the hundreds. The workshop was well attended, and reports I heard indicated that the company did a great job. It was not a “hard sell" sales pitch. Instead, Ancestry.com employees demonstrated the use of many of the company's services. I talked with several attendees later and all reported they were glad they attended.
While many vendors had downsized their exhibits or eliminated them entirely, it was great to see Arphax Publishing in attendance with what I believe is a bigger exhibit than ever before. Arphax publishes the Family Maps series of Land Patent Books and the Texas Land Survey Maps series. The company has recently switched to a more compact method of binding the books and had hundreds of books available for sale.
More than 100 presentations were made by many of the leading genealogy lecturers of our time. The topics varied from classes for beginners to advanced presentations and workshops aimed at the experts who wanted to further hone their skills. Of course, there were numerous presentations on Tennessee and Kentucky records, migration patterns, and similar topics. You'd expect that at a conference held in Tennessee. In addition, I was delighted to find many other topics, including quite a few that demonstrated how to use technology to simplify or expand your genealogy research efforts.
You can find a list of all the presentations at http://www.fgs.org/2010conference/program/ along with biographies of all the speakers at http://www.fgs.org/2010conference/speakers/
I took a lot of photos and they are included with this article. Click on any small image in this article to see a larger picture.
The conference had a rule prohibiting photographs during the presentations, so I was unable to take pictures of the presenters at work. However, I took lots of photos of the exhibits hall and of the convention center. Those photos should give you an idea of what the conference was like.
I always find the exhibits hall to be my favorite place and this year's conference was no exception. I found new genealogy software products, a new cruise company that is sponsoring TWO new genealogy cruises to exotic ports this year, and lots of other items of interest. I will write about many of the new products and services in separate articles over the next few days.
All in all, this year's FGS conference was a good one, apparently enjoyed by all. I'm glad I went.
The 2011 Conference will be held in Springfield, Illinois, on 7-10 September 2011. You might consider attending. Details will be available at http://www.fgs.org/2011conference/. You won't find much information at that web address right now, but I am sure more information will be added as we get closer to the date.
See you in Springfield?
Photo below is of the "East Tennessee Airport Limousine."