By Lynn Funk, Student
Salt Lake City, Utah is considered by many to be the “Mecca for Genealogical Research” and it was never more so than this February 11-14 when the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) combined their conference with the annual RootsTech Conference. Over 22,000 people crowded into the Salt Palace to learn, share and enjoy speakers, workshops and exhibits about their shared passion—family history!
My conference experience opened Wednesday night with a social featuring sandwiches and desserts and a panel discussion about Family History and Television. Participants included FGS president and Genealogy Roadshow host Joshua Taylor; Genealogy Roadshow host, genealogist and lawyer, Kenyatta Berry; George Ott from ProGenealogists; genetic genealogist CeCe Moore and Jennifer Utley from “Who Do You Think You Are?” The panel discussed the impact shows such as Genealogy Roadshow, Finding Your Roots and Who Do You Think You Are? have had on the growing interest in family history and genealogy.
The next three days I attended sessions presented by both FGS and Rootstech, however most were FGS classes as they seemed to focus more on research methodology. In these classes I learned about cluster genealogy, resources for tracing U.S. ancestors between 1780-1840, using tax records to solve genealogical problems, and finding ancestors in between the censuses. One of my favorite classes was taught by Michael Lacopo and was entitled: She Came From Nowhere: A Case Study Approach to Solving a Difficult Genealogical Problem. Since I have several “difficult genealogical problems,” I found this class very helpful. It was fun to see how, step by step, he took down this brick wall and it reinforced what I have been learning in my courses at the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.
In between classes, I roamed the exhibit hall with my husband (who shares my love of family history). We wanted to buy lots of things but limited ourselves to a book about genealogical writing from NEHGS and a DNA test kit from Ancestry.com (for my husband—I got a free one last year for participating in a focus group). We also attended a few short presentations by FindMyPast and FamilySearch about upcoming innovations the two are planning. We checked out the Family Discovery Center and learned that my husband is distantly related to several celebrities, LDS church leaders and even some famous inventors and Mayflower arrivals.
All in all, it was a great conference. Bonuses included free-for-life membership to a new family online tree called Family.me for being one of the first 10,000 to sign-up, a free book from an NGS door prize drawing entitled Genealogy and the Law, and a free registration to next year’s FGS Conference in Springfield, Illinois! I would encourage everyone to attend these conferences. You’ll definitely learn something and you might just get some freebies!