A Report from the FGS Conference in Washington, DC

I had a great time the annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) last week. I thought I would share some of the highlights with you. Hopefully, some of my photos will give you an idea of some of the events at this major genealogy conference.

NOTE: Click on any image in this article to view a larger version. Please feel free to save or to republish any image in this article. There is no need to ask me for permission. “Just do it.”

The conference started on Wednesday, August 21, 2019. The big news that morning was the announcement that FGS and the U.S. National Genealogical Society (NGS) have agreed to merge and become one organization, to be called the National Genealogical Society. You can read the announcement in an earlier article in this newsletter at: https://blog.eogn.com/2019/08/21/ngs-and-fgs-announce-intent-to-merge/.

The announcement created a lot of “buzz” and was discussed most all week. Most of the folks I talked with seem to believe it will be a positive move for both organizations.

The conference was held at the historic Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC. This turned out to be a rather good location. The National Archives, Library of Congress, DAR Library, and more are all within an easy and affordable ride away on the DC Metro. Many of the conference attendees arrived early and spent time in these archives and libraries in the days before the conference. In addition, there were numerous restaurants within easy walking distance of the conference hotel.

Here is one of the restaurants that I checked out a few blocks from the conference hotel:

I had the best catfish ever at this unassuming little bar!

The conference location:

The Omni Shoreham Hotel certainly does deserve the title of “historic.” While it looks a bit old-fashioned, the hotel has been kept up to date and has (mostly) modern facilities. When it opened in 1930, the evening’s entertainment was a huge music extravaganza with Rudy Vallee as the headline entertainer. Yes, that was a few years ago!

Rudy Vallee at the Omni Shoreham Hotel’s opening night. Notice the top hat and tails.

Some three decades later, four young men from England also entertained at the hotel. John, Paul, George, and Ringo appeared on stage at the Omni Shoreham Hotel two days after the Beatles’ first American appearance on the Ed Sullivan show.

The Beatles entertain at the Omni Shoreham Hotel on February 11, 1964.

I snapped the above images in the lobby display of the hotel, but there are dozens more pictures there as well, including photos of most every famous entertainer from the 1930s and later.

You can read a lot more about this year’s FGS conference by starting at Archive.org’s history of FGS web pages at: https://web.archive.org/web/20190713045528/https://fgs.org/annual-conference/.

Here are a few of my other pictures taken during the conference:

Thomas W. Jones, CG®, CGL℠ gave the Helen F. M. Leary Distinguished Lecture, speaking on “The Advance of Research Habits over Recent Decades – And the Downside.” He described genealogy research techniques in the 1960s through to modern times and gave his expert perspective on the way genealogists have researched in the past compared to today’s methodologies.

You can see Tom’s smile in the above picture. That’s typical of his positive attitude and encouragement in all his talks I have attended.  I also was flattered when he mentioned past articles in this newsletter a couple of times!

Brooke Schreier Ganz spoke on “Reclaim the Records,” a subject she knows well! Brooke is the founder and president of Reclaim The Records and the first genealogist to successfully sue a government archive for the return of records to the public. You can read a lot more about her achievements by reading previous articles in this newsletter. Start at: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+%22Reclaim+The+Records%22&t=brave&ia=web.

The one “complaint” I had with the conference location is the somewhat hodge-podge layout of the meeting rooms, exhibits hall, restaurant, and other hotel facilities. I spent much of my time staring at the conference maps in the cell phone app! Even so, it is a minor complaint. No conference hall is ever perfect, but this one was better than most of the others I have visited.

The exhibits hall was inside a parking garage! Actually, that worked quite well with the possible exception of a somewhat anemic air conditioning system. Typical conference-style curtains were hung in front of the walls and in other places to hide most of the parking garage’s less-attractive features.

The Exhibits Hall

The list of exhibitors at this year’s FGS conference.

Since the Federation of Genealogical Societies sponsored this conference, you could expect them to have a large booth just inside the entrance of the exhibits hall.

This gives you an idea of the available presentations in just one day in the Ancestry.com booth. There was a similar list for each of the four days, and other exhibitors also often gave lots of demonstrations.

Here you see DNA expert Bob McLaren hard at work in the Family Tree DNA booth. Bob has been a fixture at dozens of genealogy conference over the years.

Rick Voight (shown above) and Randy Fredlund of Vivid-Pix, along with George G. Morgan and Drew Smith (co-hosts and producers of the oldest continually produced genealogy podcast), are sponsors of the genealogy Unsung Heroes Awards. See https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+%22Unsung+heroes%22++award&t=brave&ia=web for more information.

Here is another picture of Rick Voight, this time in front of the Vivid-Pix display. You have to see a demo of Vivid-Pix in action in order to appreciate its capabilities. It is the closest thing to magic I have ever seen in a photo editing product!

The Virtual Genealogical Association (or VGA). Yes, you can join this group and then attend genealogy presentations, seminars, meetings, and more, all without leaving your home!

Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, and her assistant were busy most all week looking at old photographs brought by attendees and providing advice.

James Clouse demonstrates some of the finer points of using Family Tree Maker in the company’s exhibit booth.

Tree Vault is one of the more valuable features available for Family Tree Maker, in my opinion: it automatically makes backup copies of your entire genealogy database, including pictures, images, and videos, to a private space in the cloud that the user controls. What happens if your computer dies? If you are using Family Tree Maker along with the (optional) Tree Vault, you won’t lose anything. Simply restore everything from the cloud to your newly-repaired computer and you are back in business within minutes.

DNAGEDcom.com and mitoYDNA.org

Most of the gang from American Ancestors, also known as the New England Historic Genealogical Society. David Lambert is looking slim in the above photo, evidence of his recent weight loss. We are all proud of you, David!

The Daughters of the American Revolution had a very active booth. After all, the organization’s fabulous library was only a few miles away!

If you use Family Tree Maker, you need to check out these (optional) add-on products!

Jill Crandell, MA, AG in her Research Ties booth. Any researcher, beginner or professional, will benefit from the use of a quality research log. Jill demonstrated to attendees at the conference how to log quickly, file easily, and retrieve documents instantly. Indeed, it is possible to enjoy the process of logging and planning research!

This conference wasn’t strictly about U.S. ancestors! Ontario Ancestors (alias the Ontario Genealogical Society) was there to help those with Canadian ancestry.

New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B) always has lots of resources concerning New York ancestors. Check out the organization’s many books and other resources at http://kinshipny.com.


If you were unable to attend the conference or if you did attend but were unable to visit all the presentations that interested you, please keep in mind that you can always purchase audio recordings of the sessions of interest from http://www.fleetwoodonsite.com/fgs or from 1-800-353-1830.

Next Year

Are you interested in attending the 2020 conference to be held September 2–5 in Kansas City, Missouri? If so, keep an eye on the 2020 conference web site at: https://fgs.org/conferences/.

See you there?

One Comment

Thanks for postintg this review and accompanying photos. I wish I could go to all these wonderful events, but your reports are the next best thing. Keep up the good work!


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