Thursday, September 15, 2011

One final look at FGS 2011

I've had a few days to catch my breath and reflect upon my first national genealogy conference. I'm still dazed by the experience. So this is going to be one of those pick your superlative posts. Toss in a few adjectives for emphasis and you have my slack-jawed, newbie perspective.

Conference chairs Paula Stuart-Warren and Josh Taylor put on an outstanding conference and weren't a bad stand-up act either. I'm sure they had help from hundreds of people. I thank them all. Hard to see how FGS 2011 can be topped (and yes, I do know about RootsTech, and yes, I do want to go someday).

The courses were and always will be the main draw for me. I may be new to conferences and blogging, but I've been researching for decades and have well defined objectives and obstacles. I'm not interested in broad topics or even case studies (unless Thomas Jones is speaking). There were enough narrowly focused courses covering topics of interest that I could have attended two courses each session and still missed a few I wanted to hear. And they were really, really good!

As it was, I crawled out of Springfield exhausted, but thrilled to have gotten introductions to records that may hold information I've been seeking for many years. The syllabi will be a fabulous resource. I even purchased recorded copies of several classes I could not attend.

That said, I can't imagine doing this every year. The costs, while reasonable, are a factor. If it comes down to visiting my family (the living ones) or a genealogy conference, family wins. It was enormous fun to meet virtual friends and make new ones. But this was so big, with so many options, that I was frustrated at not being able to do it all. Six classes were scheduled on Friday and Saturday. I managed to get to five on Friday and three on Saturday before I surrendered and headed back to St. Louis. The pace was grueling. There are people I truly wanted to meet that I didn't. My fault for not seeking them out.

Next time I'll do better. For there will absolutely be a next time. I'll whip myself into shape (maybe even lose a couple pounds in the process). I'll make a point of connecting with the people I really want to meet. I'll have more realistic expectations, a better grasp of the pace. 160 class offerings over four days - I'll only schedule 4 or 5 each day. Throw in a couple breakfasts, luncheons or evening receptions and I should have at least 12 minutes free each day.

Here's to Fort Wayne in 2013!  


  1. I agree wholeheartedly, there was ALOT to do, see, hear, learn... I missed meeting a number of people I had hoped to see. But now with newbie status officially behind you, I'll "get" this and be more much prepared in Birmingham. I'm doing deep knee bends as I type! :0)

  2. The next one is in Birmingham, AL? That's within driving distance for me. Maybe I should start getting into shape now.

  3. Yup, I learned two things about attending the big conferences at my very first one (FGS 2010 in Knoxville): don't miss the opening ceremony and you'll have to skip a few sessions to make the pace doable and bearable. The classes are the meat of the experience, but socializing and talking with others is also a huge and rewarding part. Wish I could have been at this one - sounded like some of the stalwarts of the crew were there. Perhaps Alabama next year, but more like something closer to home will be my next one. Glad you had a good time!

  4. I feel like I left quite a few odds and ends out of my posts also and thought about a P.S. post. Unfortunately the time will probably slip by me and I'll shrug my shoulders. I plan be at the NGS in Ohio but only because I have a lot of questions in my Ohio lines, and I think I have a friend who wants to go. Should I admit to her that I snore?

    Wonderful posts.

  5. I snorted my coffee at "I should have at least 12 minutes free each day" and that is exactly how I felt! I wimped out and left early - missing 2 sessions on Saturday but I was tired. So, what did I do? Went home and registered for Roots Tech (so I could get the super duper bonus conference price)

    It was great to meet you in person - we have to do it again :-)


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