A Report from the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium’s 2017 Conference

NOTE: I took a lot of photographs of this year’s NERGC conference. Most of them are available in an online photo album. Scroll down to see the photographs.

The 14th annual New England Regional Genealogical Conference was held last week (26-29 April 2017) in Springfield, Massachusetts. I was lucky enough to attend the conference and must say that I enjoyed it. I think all the other conference attendees enjoyed themselves as well. I have attended most of the NERGC conferences in the past ten or fifteen years and must say this was one of the best, perhaps the best, one that I ever saw. The theme of this year’s conference was Using The Tools Of Today & Tomorrow To Understand The Past.

This year’s conference was the biggest New England Regional Genealogical Conference (NERGC) conference ever held. More than 1,000 people registered for the conference even before the doors opened. A few more were “last minute walk-ins” who registered at the conference. I never heard the final attendance numbers but it obviously was more than 1,000 people. Not bad for a regional genealogy conference! I have been to some national conferences in past years that were smaller than that.

NERGC is an association of genealogical societies seeking to bring affordable, cutting edge, national quality genealogical education within the reach of New England genealogists and family historians at an affordable regional price. “NEREGC” refers to the New England Regional Genealogical CONSORTIUM. In this case, the “Consortium” is a partnership of 23 or possibly more genealogy societies and related organizations. The conference provides presentations on many genealogy-related topics but with a heavy focus on genealogy in the six New England states and the larger ethnic groups within the area. A list of the organizations in the consortium may be found at: http://www.nergc.org/participating-societies. The conference included presentations on research of Irish, French-Canadian, and many other topics.

Sponsoring organizations included: the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Excelsior College, FamilyTree DNA, the Board of Certified Genealogists Education Fund, the Association of Professional Genealogists, Ancestry.com, the Museum of Springfield History, and ProQuest, along with additional support from the National Institute of Genealogical Studies.

Photo courtesy of the MassMutual Center.

The MassMutual Center turned out to be an excellent location for an event of this size. While located in the middle of downtown Springfield, it is surrounded by hotels, restaurants, and parking garages within 2 or 3 blocks. This modern facility had good acoustics and even featured excellent temperature control in the various lecture halls. I have heard complaints about hot or cold lecture halls at many past genealogy conferences but I heard no complaints about such issues at this year’s NERGC conference!

Another indication of the size of any conference is the number of sessions presented. In this case, 7 tracks of presentations were held simultaneously all day for the 3 primary days of the event.

The conference also featured:

  • a “Genealogy Road Show” – an opportunity to get assistance on a personal genealogical question
  • a large exhibit hall open for long hours at no charge for three days. The Exhibits Hall had the largest number of exhibitors that I ever saw at a NERGC conference.
  • a Society Fair on Thursday evening provided an opportunity to learn about organizations focused on genealogy and history
  • SIG’s (Special Interest Groups) on Thursday night to discuss a number of topics of special interest
  • Workshops every day
  • Breakfasts, luncheons, and banquets were also held for those who wished for even more immersion into genealogy topics. Most of the meals included presentations by leading genealogy speakers of today.

For more information about the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium’s 2017 Conference, you can look at the conference’s online brochure at http://www.nergc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Program-Brochure-03-03.pdf.

Of course, that online brochure is now obsolete: it was created for what was then the FUTURE conference. The conference is now over but almost all of the events did take place. The online brochure will show what happened. However, I suspect that page will be removed before long as the organizers begin to prepare for the next conference, to be held about two years from now. You might want to check put the 2017 online brochure while it is still available.

Speaking of the next NERGC conference, it will be held April 2 through 6, 2019, in Manchester, New Hampshire. No, that is not a typo. NERGC conferences are normally held once every two years. The next one is in 2019. You might want to mark the dates now on your calendar.

I hope to be at the 2019 conference in New Hampshire. Will I see you there?

In the meantime, I will invite you to look at my online photos below:

A part of the crowd during the opening ceremonies. I needed a wide-angle lens to include everyone in the picture!

The MyHeritage booth was busy for three days, especially selling the new DNA kits!

 

Ancestors Roadshow was the place to obtain expert advice on how to break through your own “brick wall.”

This is just some of the crowd waiting patiently in line for assistance from Ancestors Roadshow. The lines remained for three days! A lot of people received assistance.

New York is not a part of New England but obviously is nearby. The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society had a big presence at this conference.

Duff Wilson gave many demonstrations of the myriad of features in the latest version of Family Tree Maker from Software MacKiev. 

“On the air with Dr. Mike” 

Elissa Scalise Powell in the GRIP (Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh) booth

 

7 Comments

Dianne Bordeaux Lenti, CT May 3, 2017 at 5:52 am

Fantastic opportunity to learn!! This all volunteer effort really paid off in a big way! Attendees got to listen and learn from some of the best.. this was an excellent conference!!

Liked by 1 person

Dianne Bordeaux Lenti May 3, 2017 at 5:56 am

Excellent all volunteer conference. Amazingly well coordinated. Very educational; covering a wide range of topics!

Liked by 1 person

Thank you for the review – it was great to see you again and the shout-out to you during the opening was well-deserved! Love the photos!

Liked by 1 person

Seema Kenney and I were co-chairs for this event and very much appreciate your assessment. I have to say that without the help of dozens of committee chairpersons and a small army of volunteers, we wouldn’t have been nearly as successful. And since Springfield is my hometown, it was easy for me to “show people around.”
Thanks, Dick!

Like

It was an impressive, informative and well organized conference with excellent speakers!

Liked by 1 person

Where do we find the Genealogy Channel – On the air with Dr. Mike?

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