One benefit of attending a genealogy conference is the wide variety of available lectures and workshops offered in a few days. But how to select which sessions to attend? In no particular order, I present the following suggestions.
1. Don’t let the conference schedule intimidate you. If you’ve waded your way through census records and city directories, the conference schedule is a piece of cake. For instance, interested in the Genetics track on Thursday, August 23? Place your index finger on the shaded Genetics block and move your finger horizontally across the pages. There are your choices for the entire day with the time for each session in the table’s first row.
2. Mix it up. You don’t have to attend one track in one day unless you want to. With all due respect to the Genetics track, four lectures in one day covering Genetics is about three lectures too many. But that’s just me.
3. Pick a track, lecture, or presenter that interests you. Are you a PhD candidate in genetics? Is it time to learn how to read German Gothic handwriting so you don’t get a headache? Have you always wanted to hear a genealogist whose work you admire in print or on television? This genealogy conference has it all.
4. Pay attention to notices about workshops and luncheons that are filling up fast. If something didn’t catch your eye the first time around, read the description again. Maybe all those folks registering for a workshop or luncheon are on to something.
5. Think outside the box. One of the most fascinating lectures I attended was “Slave Research” presented by Marjorie Sholes at the 2007 FGS conference in Fort Wayne. To date, I haven’t uncovered slave ancestors in my family tree. But you never know. Plus, while wading through your research you may stumble across documents of value to someone else. You have to know what to look for though.
6. Order a printed copy of the syllabus. Yes, there is an electronic version. Yes, you may kill another tree by ordering a paper syllabus. And yes, the printed copy is a hefty tome. But, personally, there’s just something about paper that I like. The paper version may also come in handy on a flight home: that irritating seat mate glances at the book’s title and shares his genealogy story with you. And a four-hour trip becomes a little more pleasant.
7. Respect your time and the time of your fellow conference attendees. Show up on time for lectures, workshops, and luncheons. Turn off all electronic gadgets. Make time to browse the exhibit hall and visit with vendors.
A genealogy conference is overwhelming at times. Just take a deep breath and dive in!