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The annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies continued today in Springfield, Illinois. (You can read my report of Day #1 at http://goo.gl/Wb68I.) The morning started with the keynote session. FGS President Pat Oxley welcomed the attendees and made several announcements.
Probably the most interesting announcement was the number of attendees: more than 2,000 have already attended and this is only the morning of the second day. That number is expected to grow even more as more "walk-ins" appear in the next three days. In short, this is one of the largest FGS conferences ever held. The 2,000 attendees include people from 48 different states (including Alaska and Hawaii) and 5 countries. Not bad!
J. Michael Houston, Mayor of Springfield, also welcomed the attendees and made some remarks. He was followed by co-national Conference Chairs Paula Stewart-Warren and D. Joshua Taylor, both of whom also offered remarks.
Curt Witcher, V.P. of Development for FGS, then described the War of 1812 Pension Files project that is presently digitizing 7.2 million pages (each application typically contained several pages) with a projected cost of about $3.6 million. Ancestry.com has agreed to match every dollar raised for the project with one more dollar. The pension records will be available online free of charge forever. This is a very important digital preservation of an important record group. The records that have already been digitized are available now at www.fold3.com although the project is still in its infancy. You can go to http://www.fold3.com at any time and see a "counter" that shows the number of pension files already available online as of this moment.
Pat Richley-Erickson (also known as Dear Myrtle) described a project by Genea-Quilters to contribute funds to the War of 1812 Pension Files project.
Michael Maven, President of the Indiana Genealogical Society, described the fund raising efforts of the Indiana Genealogical Society for the same project. The society raised $12,117. With the Ancestry match, Maven presented a check to FGS of $24,234 for the War of 1812 Pension Application Files digitization project.
Several awards were presented for service to the genealogical community. One that I appreciated was Josh Taylor's announcement of the newly-created Genealogical Tourism Award. It was awarded to two individuals: Curt Witcher, manager of the Historical Genealogy Department of the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana and to Deby Snodgrass, executive director of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department.
You can read my earlier report about the Oklahoma Tourism web site that promotes genealogy research within the state at http://goo.gl/e8c7f.
The Keynote Address was then provided by David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States. Mr. Ferriero described a number of the latest developments at NARA. Some of the items he mentioned included:
- The www.archives.gov web site has recently received major improvements
- Social media has been adopted by NARA in a big way
- A big relationship has been established with with Wikipedia, including a Wikipedian on the staff at NARA
- More and more genealogical data is now available on the Internet, some placed online by NARA but the majority of the online records are hosted by NARA's business partners
- The 1940 U.S. census will be available free of charge to anyone in the world who has online access, beginning April 2, 2012
- NARA is also creating a customer advisory group
All in all, it was a good session. It was a bit lengthy, but roughly 2,000 people in the audience seemed to listen to every word.
The final announcement concerns next year's FGS conference: it will be held in Birmingham, Alabama on August 29 through September 1. Mark you calendars now!
The keynote session ended and roughly 2,000 genealogists left the room, crossed the street, and entered the newly-opened exhibits hall in the convention center. It was fun to see the traffic back up as 2,000 people crossed the street at once! Luckily, it is not a busy street.
The exhibits hall was mobbed for the first hour or so and then remained busy most of the rest of the day. I didn't get to talk with many vendors about their new sevices or products, as they all seemed to be busy today talking with customers. I'll spend my time interviewing when things quiet down a bit on Friday and Saturday.
Lectures about a wide variety of topics started at 11 AM and continued all day long. With eight simpultaneous presentations being offered all day long, I was unable to attend all the lectures. However, I did get to a few and found they varied widely. I guess that's no surprise. Some of the best known and most respected genealogy lecturers are making presentations at this conference.
You can see the full schedule at http://www.fgs.org/2011conference/
All in all, I felt it was a good day and I am glad I was able to attend. The conference is now half over and I suspect the remaining two days will be as productive and fun as the first two.
To learn more about this year's FGS conference, go to http://www.fgs.org/2011conference/
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