Though declining attendance at national conferences has been a much-discussed topic in genealogy circles, the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) <www.fgs.org> has managed to buck the trend: Spokesperson Paula Stuart-Warren says attendance at its annual event has increased by 25 percent over the past four years to hit pre-Sept. 11, 2001, levels.
Organizers of this year’s FGS conference, Aug. 30-Sept. 2 in Boston, are intent on continuing the upswing. “The key is in looking at what’s new and different, so that those who have traditionally attended conferences, but may be getting bored, are presented with new avenues of research,” Stuart-Warren says.
That meant capitalizing on Boston’s history and location to supersize the show with 350 classes, workshops and seminars. The first day of the conference traditionally focuses on genealogical society management, but this year it also will feature broader-based classes. Offerings include sessions on researching in international records, led by archivists who work in foreign repositories.
The exhibit hall, which opens Thursday, will reflect Boston’s ethnic heritage with an Irish village of booksellers, professional researchers, genealogical organizations and tourism representatives. Also new is the Ancestor Road Show, a program popular at other recent conferences, that lets attendees consult with experts on brick-wall problems. Sign up Thursday for 20-minute spots Friday and Saturday; you get to bring only one problem, so choose carefully. See the conference blog <fgsconference.blogspot.com> for more news on special events.
FGS conference registration costs $185 for all four days; daily admittance sets you back $95 per day (sign up before July 1 to save $30 off the whole conference or $14 off a daily pass). Before you jump into the show, Stuart-Warren recommends perusing the schedule and room layout to get a feel for the Hynes Convention Center.
Plan time for off-site research, too: The center, set in the Back Bay neighborhood, is just blocks from conference host New England Historic Genealogical Society <www.newenglandancestors.org>; the Massachusetts Historical Society <masshist.org> and Boston Public Library <bpl.org> aren’t far.
From the August 2006 issue of Family Tree Magazine.