The annual conference of the U.S. National Genealogical Society continued on Thursday (May 9, 2012) in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio.
As the conference settled down into its second day, a few things became clear. The conference is well orchestrated with very few problems. This is surprising for an event that is held in a different location each year with (mostly) different organizers. Most all of the volunteers and quite a few of the senior organizers have never worked at a major conference before. I was pleasantly surprised to see things flow so smoothly. I am sure there must have been a few "bumps" here and there, but I didn't see any.
Many of the presentations were made to standing room only crowds. Several of the better-known genealogy lecturers attracted larger audiences than what could be fitted into the available rooms, despite the fact that this conference center has large rooms! One lady I talked with last night reported that she was assigned to introduce the speaker of one particular session earlier in the day. She showed up a bit early to be prepared to make the introduction. She found a seat but the room soon became so crowded that people were standing in the back and sitting on the floor. When this lady stood up and walked to the podium to make the introduction, someone took her seat! After introducing the speaker, she had to stand through the entire presentation.
I won't list all the presentations here as the list is much too long. Besides, that has already been done elsewhere so why duplicate it? You can find a listing of all the presentations and the presenters' biographies at http://members.ngsgenealogy.org/Conferences/2012Program.cfm.
I did not get a chance to talk with all the vendors but those that I have asked have reported very good sales at this conference. One non-profit society reported they sold more books and society memberships during the first two hours of the first day than they normally do at an entire four-day conference! The commercial vendors reported successes as well, although perhaps not quite as spectacular. When I asked several vendors how sales were going at the conference, the most negative reply I received was "pretty good." Everyone else reported better than "pretty good" sales.
Looking forward to today's (Friday's) scheduled events, I see one major change from previous NGS conferences: the lack of a banquet. Past NGS conferences have usually featured Friday evening banquets. Perhaps 50% of the conference attendees attended the banquets years ago, although I think that percentage has probably slipped in the past few years. The banquets usually featured lots of awards and recognition of outstanding efforts by various individuals and organizations. Typically, all this was followed by a banquet speaker.
The quality of the speakers' presentations has varied widely over the years. I have sat through some great banquet speeches as well as some that were not so great. The cost of the banquets, like most everything else, has escalated through the years. A few years ago, I stopped attending the conference banquets. Apparently, many other conference attendees did the same.
This year the traditional conference banquet has been replaced by a Friday night reception instead of a banquet. That event won't be held for a few hours yet as I write these words, but I do have to say I think this is a good move. I always mourn the loss of anything we used to have, but I won't miss the banquets. I am sure that some people must have enjoyed them but I suspect they were too costly and required a lot of effort and then only benefitted a small number of attendees. I suspect the money, labor, and other resources are better spent on core services offered at the conference. I also suspect the change was a difficult decision to make. I salute whoever it was that made the decision.
I am including some more pictures I took of the Exhibitors' Hall on Thursday.
Some genelogists bring printouts and charts of their family trees to conferences. Leland Meitzler brough the newest addition to his family tree! two and a half-month-old Nicholas is attending his sixth genealogy conference! He attended his first conference when he was five days old!
That's a great way to get them started when they are still young, Leland!
Just A Joy is an antique dealer with a difference: every item displayed here contains a name or other identification of the original owner or the person referenced in the item. For instance, this sword, made in the 1790s, has both the name of the original owner and the sword maker engraved on it, along with the date.
I guess it would be bad form to use this at a marshmallow roast!?!
I just HAD to take a picture of this! The Kentucky Genealogy Society booth is promoting an all-day seminar to be held in Frankfort on August 4, featuring a speaker named Dick Eastman. Further details may be found at http://www.kygs.org/meetings/2012_0804.SaturdayWithDickEastman.Brochure.pdf.
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