The opening session of the Federation of Genealogical Societies took place this morning in Springfield, Illinois in a crowded room containing hundreds of conference attendees. I took notes on the iPad but my typing ability is not fast enough to capture everything. Here is a bit of what I did record.
FGS President Josh Taylor offered opening remarks and a number of announcements. One announcement that was well received was that MyHeritage has become the Platinum Sponsor of FGS conferences for the next three years. This is a major financial commitment by vendor to financially support the genealogy community.
Paula Stuart-Warren made several award presentations, including:
Judy Russell received the Directors’ Award for in recognition of exceptional contributions to the field of genealogy and family history.
Loretto “Lou” Szucs received The Rabbi Malcolm Stern Award (the FGS’ highest award) for numerous humanitarian efforts towards Genealogy and Family History. Lou is a founding member of FGS. A lengthly list of her many other accomplishments were also announced but I couldn’t write fast enough to capture all of them. I suspect an official announcement will be released soon. Check that for details.
A new award, to be called The Lou D. Szucs Service Award, will be given in future years recognizing individuals for service above and beyond the norm.
Big news: David Rencher and Curt Witcher, representing the War of 1812 Preserve the FGS Pension Project, announced an anonymous $500,000 donation for the project from an individual outside the genealogy community, to be matched by Ancestry.com for a total of $1 million. Details are in the official announcement which I have already published.
The keynote speeches were given by CeCe Moore, Mary Tedesco, and J. Mark Lowe, speaking on “Genealogy, Past, Present & Future.” This was a very impressive presentation. J. Mark Lowe started by a re-enactment from Sept. 1, 1896 of Robert Wilson Patterson, Business Manager of the Chicago Tribune. Mary Tedesco did a great job of re-enacting genealogy over the past few years. CeCe Moore then offered “Genealogy Future,” an interactive audio-visual offering that included almost instant genealogy research resulting in reconstruction of a family tree as performed many years from now. Starting with a DNA sample, computers created an Ancestry Atlas of all locations and a computer-generated facial reconstruction of a 4th great-grandmother in Galway, Ireland. Yes, it ended in a computer-generated image of the woman’s face, complete with eye and hair colors. The computer then accessed genetic memory of records to find name and other information about the woman’s life.
To be blunt, I have sat through many boring opening sessions at genealogy conferences throughout the years. This was not one of them! I enjoyed this morning’s opening session immensely and obviously hundreds of other people did as well. My hat is off to all the people who worked hard to make this session a success.