The first genealogy conference I ever attended was the 2007 conference in Fort Wayne, Ind. At the time, my main plan was navigating my way through the program schedule, finding the sessions that suited my interests and abilities. A secondary plan was putting down on paper all the genealogy to-do’s stored in my head so I had someplace to start at The Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library. What I wasn’t counting on at that very first conference was planning for fun!
It’s true. They’re not all work. FGS conferences are fun! Admittedly, fun is not what I thought of when first seeing the program schedule. How do I read this thing? There are so many choices. How do I choose the right ones? (Hint: Browse through the schedule and then set it aside. Return to it a couple days later and it makes more sense!) And there are really no right ones. All the sessions are good!
In 2007, I discovered that some folks just attend genealogy conferences. Little to no research involved. And that’s okay. In fact, that was my intent in 2007 and, for me, it was a mistake. I had a few research options in mind, but hadn’t brought my relevant materials. One cannot attend a conference in Fort Wayne without visiting The Genealogy Center. Believe me, once you get there the urge to research kicks in and you start kicking yourself for not bringing some research materials. So at the very least bring a list of ancestor names and dates of birth, a paper notebook, pencil, eraser, and post-it notes. And if you’re traveling by plane, make sure to leave room in your suitcase for all the stuff you will copy and pick up from lectures and exhibits.
Without a doubt, genealogy conferences and research require planning. Getting time off of work. Making sure the cat sitter is available. Booking airline and hotel reservations. Organizing genealogy paperwork or downloading data onto the iPad. But planning, like genealogy brick walls, requires flexibility. Sometimes it’s the unexpected roads that have clues and answers. Just stay flexible and you’ll have a fun conference!
Click here to learn more about the FGS 2013 Conference or click the FGS 2013 Ambassador badge on the right side of my blog. Looking forward to having fun in Fort Wayne!