The NGS2018 Conference in Grand Rapids was a Success!

This past week, I had an opportunity to attend the annual conference of the National Genealogical Society. This year’s conference was held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. More than 2,000 genealogists attended more than 200 sessions at the DeVos Place Convention Center. This modern conference center is a great place to hold a conference of 2,000 or even many more attendees!

A lot of information about this year’s conference is available at You can see a list of all the sessions by starting at Click on any sessions in the list to see a description of each session, along with the presenter’s name and more information.

NOTE: Most of the sessions were recorded. If you were unable to attend one or more sessions of interest, you can purchase audio recordings of most of the sessions by starting at You can listen to the session recordings online or, if you prefer, you also may download them to your computer or MP3 player and listen to them at your leisure. Another option is to purchase recordings on CD disks and have them mailed to you.

The weather was what you might expect in the Michigan springtime; some sunny periods, lots of cloudy periods, occasional light rain, and some high winds for a bit. The weather wasn’t much of a problem, however. The conference center and several of the conference hotels were interconnected by a system of “skywalks,” essentially covered “tunnels in the sky.” It was easy to walk from one place to another without being exposed to the rain, wind, or any other unpleasant weather.

I attended the opening session of the conference and am glad I did. Opening remarks were made by Jan Alpert, the 2018 Conference Chair. She was followed by Ben Spratling, NGS President, who welcomed the 2,000+ welcomed the attendees. He  reminded everyone that NGS was founded in 1903. Now, 115 years later, it is still going strong. He also described many of the NGS publications, especially the new books that have been introduced in the past year.

Terry Koch-Bostic, NGS Vice President, described many of NGS’s educational offerings. These offerings are “learn at home” products. Two new products were introduced at the opening session: African American Roots: A Historical Perspective and Federal Land Records.

Terry then introduced introduced winners of several NGS awards. They are listed in other articles in this newsletter. See for the details.

Finally, John Philip Colletta, PhD, FUGA spoke on Coming Along the Towpath: The Erie Canal and the Peopling of the Great Lakes States. John always offers entertaining and educational talks and this presentation was no exception. You can learn more about John Colletta’s work at:

Pictures, Lots and Lots of Pictures

I did take a lot of pictures during the conference, mostly of the exhibits hall and the activities there. A few of them are shown here in this article but you can see many more at The first screen you see will contain many small images. Click on any of the small images to view a much larger version. Also, when looking at the larger images you will see my comments, if any, along the bottom of each image. You will also see forward and reverse arrows along the left and right sides of the screen. Click on the arrows to move forward and backwards through the entire photo “album.”

Again, the photos are at

Would you like to attend a future annual conference of the National Genealogical Society? The 2019 conference will be held in St. Charles, Missouri, from 8–11 May. That is a suburb of St. Louis. The 2020 annual conference will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, from May 20 to 23. It is a bit early to learn more about these conferences but I am sure information will appear on the NGS web site and in this newsletter as we get closer to those events.

I plan to be in both St. Charles and in Salt Lake City for the future conferences. Will I see you there?

This person will be glad to sell you recordings of the sessions you missed! Click on the above image to learn more.


Patricia Williams Laskowski May 7, 2018 at 3:27 pm

This was my first NGS conference and it was OK. I’m not sure it was worth what I spent between registration, hotel, airfare, airport transportation, etc. There are so many free and low cost webinars available on-line I probably won’t attend again unless it is closer to where I live.
What was most disappointing was the length of the seminars. 60 minutes isn’t enough when the speaker is trying to leave a few minutes for Q & A. I don’t think I exaggerate when I say 90% of the seminars I attended the presenter said something similar to “I don’t have time to show you that in this session”, and a lot of questions didn’t get answered because they were out of time. The sessions need to be 90 minutes.

Liked by 1 person

    Barbara Curtindale May 9, 2018 at 4:54 am

    I tend to agree with the extended time span. You hear the same thing in most sessions. For the cost, let’s hear more of the topic…. those that had speakers doing Q & A prior to talk were helpful…It was a good seminar and well done. Lots of work by the volunteers of the host society. SO, a big thank you to Western Michigan Genealogical Society and the volunteers.


Jeanne Beauvais May 7, 2018 at 7:23 pm

Most of the sessions I attended did not have alot of questions asked. I monitored several sessions and most presenters were there answering questions before the presentation and at least 15-20 minutes after the session answering questions as they set up and took down their equipment. Many were available in booths in the exhibitors area.

Liked by 1 person

This was the best organized conference I had ever attended. Everything ran completely on schedule. The rooms were large enough to allow everyone who wanted a session to attend. The quality of the presenters was top-notch. I found they were very open to questions before and after the sessions.


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