People from all over the United States as well as from Canada, England, Israel, India and perhaps a few other countries were in Springfield, Illinois last week to learn more about their family trees. The Federation of Genealogical Societies wrapped up its national conference with 198 educational sessions, along with 98 guest speakers and 76 vendors, at the Prairie Capital Convention Center on Saturday.
Attendance was great this year with more than two thousand people registered. Even more stopped in the convention center for the free exhibits. You can read my earlier daily reports at http://goo.gl/ZpgrF, http://goo.gl/mNhYD, and http://goo.gl/bo8dU.
Day #4 continued in much the same manner as the previous three with one major exception: Ancestry.com held a special “Ancestry Day” event to allow more people to get a “taste” of family history and learn how Ancestry.com can help. “Ancestry Day” appealed to the many people who were not willing to pay up to $235 or didn't have the time available to attend the full four-day conference. Instead, “Ancestry Day” provided a low-cost introduction to genealogy and especially to the online resources available at Ancestry.com. Genealogy basics were covered in an easy-to-learn format and atmosphere. The event was low cost ($20 for the entire day) and participants even received special gifts to help them with their family history journey. While the participants were only able to attend the special "Ancestry Day" presentations, they also had free access to the conference Exhibits Hall. I saw quite a few "Ancestors Day" attendees wandering the Exhibits Hall. They were easily identifiable with their unique name tags.
If you missed any of the sessions, or if you would like to listen to a session again, you may purchase and download audio records of most of the sessions at Fleetwood Onsite Conference Recording's web site at http://www.fleetwoodonsite.com/index.php?cPath=299_300. CDs of the recorded sessions may be purchased or direct MP3 downloads may be transferred and saved on your computer.
My highlight of the last day occurred a couple of hours after the conference ended when 52 readers of this newsletter gathered for dinner high up on the 29th floor of the Springfield Hilton hotel. I'll write about that separately.
All in all, the 2011 conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies was a success from my viewpoint. It was well organized with very few "glitches." It was held in a city with reasonable prices for hotels, restaurants, and other traveling expenses. The convention center and two primary hotels were all adjacent to each other with minimal walking required. Dozens of restaurants were within walking distance and other, lower-cost, hotels were available a short auto ride away. The sessions were well attended and most of them were quite interesting. Everyone I talked with seemed to feel it was a good conference and most all the attendees seemed glad they made the trip.
To conference co-chairs Paula Stuart-Warren and D. Joshua Taylor, I have to say, "Well done."
Of course, the Federation of Genealogical Societies is going to do it all again next year. The 2012 Conference will be held Birmingham, Alabama on 29 August to 1 September 2012. The Alabama Genealogical Society will be the local host society. If you are interested in attending, you can find more information now at http://www.fgs.org/2012conference/.
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