The annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies is one of the larger genealogy gatherings of the year in North America. The next conference will be held from August 29 - September 1, 2012 in Birmingham, Alabama. Here's my weather prediction for those days: it will be hot and humid. Of course, that's a safe prediction for Alabama in August!
This year's conference, co-sponsored by the Alabama Genealogical Society, will have a theme of Indians, Squatters, Settlers and Soldiers in the "Old Southwest."
In my mind, the FGS conference is really two different conferences, held back-to-back. Wednesday is devoted to presentations for societies and officers of societies. After all, this IS the Federation of Genealogical Societies. One can expect the organization to focus on helping member societies and they do well at that on Wednesday.
One item added to the Wednesday agendas a year or two ago is "Brainstorming Sessions" that allow for lots of open discussion, sharing of tips, and ways to help your society flourish. This year's conference will continue with still more such sessions. You can share your knowledge, society issues, society successes, and gain from the knowledge of others. Each of the Brainstorming Sessions will have moderators from the FGS Board of Directors, some FGS member society delegates, representatives from genealogical, historical, and family organizations, and interested volunteers.
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will focus more on programs and presentations for individual genealogists to help with their research challenges and to provide instruction on techniques useful to most everyone. The last three days are a mix of presentations about beginning, intermediate, and advanced topics. New genealogists will especially be interested in the sessions listed at http://www.fgsconferenceblog.org/2012/06/are-you-relatively-new-genealogist.html.
This year's conference will also feature "GenSpiration" sessions - an opportunity for attendees to gather and discuss topics of their choice. GenSpiration sessions are similar to "birds of a feather" or "unconferencing" sessions held at other conferences. The basic concept is to allow a group to discuss a particular topic of interest that goes beyond those sessions scheduled as part of the conference program. These ad-hoc sessions will provide opportunities to discuss recently released technologies, research in a particular state or county not included in the conference program, get-together to discuss a particular genealogy software program, learn more about a particular website or library, or whatever genealogy related topic you might feel important to share with others. Don't see a topic of interest in the scheduled events? Start your own "GenSpiration" session!
I always try to attend one or more luncheons, sponsored by organizations in which I have an interest. The food typically is standard convention luncheon meals but the talks offered after lunch vary widely, often bordering on terrific. It's difficult to predict in advance how good an individual talk might be, but I have sat through several excellent luncheon talks over the years. These are also excellent opportunities to network with others with similar interests over a meal. If your favorite organization is sponsoring a lunch, I'd suggest you attend.
Of course, one of the major highlights will be the exhibit hall where most of today's genealogy vendors will be showing off their latest products and services. This year will see an extended evening session in the exhibit hall on Friday with some great door prizes to be awarded. Conference registrants will receive door prize tickets in the material they pick up at the conference. A list of the booths in the Exhibit Hall as of several days ago is at http://fgs.org/2012conference/exhibits/.
If you are thinking of attending the 2012 conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, you will first want to view the online program of all events at http://www.fgs.org/2012conference/program/. You can also download the full 16-page registration booklet at http://www.fgs.org/2012conference/pdf/2012RegistrationBrochure.pdf.
Registration for the entire conference costs $245 or you can attend for a single day for $99. However, if you register before July 1 (just a few days from now), you can receive "early bird" discounts. Registrations made before July 1 will cost $195 for the full four days or $79 for a single day. You can save up to $50 if you register NOW.
For more information or to register online, go to http://www.fgs.org/2012conference/.
I have heard a rumor that there will be a dinner on Saturday evening, after the close of the conference, for readers of this newsletter. The EOGN dinners have been well-attended at many previous conferences. I hope this summer's event in Birmingham will be the same. I will probably announce the details two or three weeks before the conference.
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