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A Genealogist In The Archives

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Next Best Thing to Being There..The 2016 FGS Conference

This past week the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) Annual Conference was held in Springfield, Illinois. As much as I wanted to attend, I was not able due to my duties at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives and not having the funds to travel.

In the past, when genealogy or archive conferences took place, I would get depressed about not being able to attend. Being a lecturer, teacher and writer of genealogy research, researching in archives and records preservation, my dream is to one day go to some of these conferences and even be a speaker at them. I can only imagine the joy of meeting my peers and attending their presentations.

Instead of wallowing in my self-pity, this time I decided to do something positive and constructive from home.

First: I downloaded and then printed out the "Program Schedule". The Program Schedule has the complete schedule for the 4-day conference. This schedule includes the title of each and every presentation and the speaker who is giving that presentation. I read each and every presentation title and I also read each every presenters byline that you get to see when you clicked on their name.

Second: I faithfully followed anyone and everyone that I knew was at the FGS Conference on social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. It was very easy to catch up on what attendees were posting to their social media accounts because most of them knew to use the "#fgs2016" designation on their social media posts. So, all I had to do was put this hashtag designation in the Facebook and Twitter search bar and all posts that had "#fgs2016" in it, I could see and read. Many attendees even posted short videos of their experiences which added to what I was able to learn vicariously through them.

Third: I read as many blog posts from attendees as I could get my hands on. Attendees would blog about who they met, what they saw in the vendor hall and the wonderful speakers and presentations they were able to attend and enjoy. They also shared what they learned, which was invaluable.

Many times they included selfies with their favorite genealogist in their social media posts or blog posts. Like this one from Julie Tarr.....

Lisa Alzo, Thomas MacEntee and Julie Tarr, Photo Courtesy of Julie Tarr.

And another....
Amy Johnson Crow and Julie Tarr. Photo Courtesy of Julie Tarr.
After studying the Program Schedule, reading everyone's Facebook posts and Tweets and reading everyone's blog posts, what did I do with everything I read and studied from home? A LOT!

I ended up with two full pages of NEW IDEAS for my own blog posts, webinars, magazine articles,etc.

These new ideas, new ways of looking at genealogy subjects that I have learned by watching, reading and listening to those that did attend the 2016 FGS Conference will be an asset to my lecture, teaching and writing career.

So, to those of you that are like me and not able to attend genealogy conferences for whatever reason, don't let that keep you from learning and growing in your genealogy research and genealogy careers.

Learn from others that are there and sharing their experiences with all of us! In this day and age of technology and social media, it's the next best thing!

And to those that were at the 2016 FGS Conference presenting, blogging, posting to Facebook and Twitter, sharing your knowledge and experience, THANK YOU!!

Remember: It's Not All Online, Contact or Visit An Archive Today!!



  1. Did you watch our free classes live-streamed from our exhibit booth on Periscope? We did 4, and will be doing more in 2017 from Rootstech.

    1. Lisa, yes I did! They were awesome! Thank You for doing those and offering them for free to view. I for one truly appreciate it.

  2. I couldn't attend either for my lack of funds - but did a great deal of "deskchair" participation as well. One day we will get to a conference! Thanks for sharing your virtual experience!

    1. You are so welcome! I will get to conferences one day and I know one day I will speak and present at them. All in good time!

  3. What a fantastic idea, Melissa. Now when the recorded sessions are available, you'll have a head start on choosing which ones to purchase.

    1. Absolutely Lisa! Of course, it's so hard to choose, I usually want them all!