A genealogy conference will be held in a few weeks in Salt Lake City. Of course, any national genealogy event held in that city will attract a large crowd. However, this event looks like it will be the largest genealogy meeting held anywhere in North America this year.
The Federation of Genealogy Societies, normally referred to as "FGS," is a society of societies. That is, more than 500 genealogy societies across the United States belong to this one national organization. These 500 societies represent hundreds of thousands of genealogists from across the country. The FGS then helps support and promote local, regional and ethnic societies. The national organization does this in many ways, including hosting the largest genealogy conference in North America in different cities each year.
This year's event is co-sponsored by the Utah Genealogical Association. It will be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center on September 7 through 10. This is a first-class venue and is only a few steps from the world's largest genealogy library. You should be able to get in some research time at the library while attending the conference.
If you can attend this year's event, you will have the chance to learn from the nation's expert genealogists. You will also have the opportunity to visit over 150 genealogical exhibitor booths to preview new publications, purchase genealogical items, and to learn about the latest technological advances in this ever-changing field. I know that I will be spending most of my time in the exhibitors' hall.
Of course, there is more to a conference than the exhibitors' hall. This year's event will feature nearly 200 presentations, seminars, workshops, luncheons and the banquet dinner on Friday.
In effect, the FGS conference is always "two conferences in one." On Wednesday, most of the presentations are aimed at society-related topics such as "Bylaws, Articles of Incorporation, and Policy and Procedures," "Delegating Responsibilities and Recruiting Volunteers," Five Keys to No or Low Cost Marketing for Societies," and more. The presentations on Thursday, Friday and Saturday are more like those of other conferences, aimed at individual genealogists. The exhibitors' hall is open during the last three days.
Of course, this "two in one" schedule means there are opportunities for two opening sessions: one on Wednesday for the society-focused day and another on Thursday for the general-purpose conference. This year both opening sessions have a technology theme.
Wednesday's opening session will feature David Rencher of the LDS Church speaking on "Societies Going Virtual." The conference brochure gives this description of his presentation:
Will the genealogical society as we know it become a casualty of the Information Age? This session will focus on strategies that societies can use in a virtual world to continue to add meaningful value to the genealogical community.
Dave is one of the visionaries of the genealogy community and I want to be seated in the audience to hear what he has to say.
On Thursday, another person that I consider to be a visionary will give the opening session presentation. Jay L. Verkler of the LDS Church will speak on "The Impact of Technological and Economic Factors on the Future of Genealogy." The conference brochure describes his talk as:
Two significant forces will shape the evolution of genealogical tools, information, and services. The inescapable impact of these forces will affect professionals, hobbyists, societies, archives, and almost anything else associated with genealogical research.
Yes, I hope to be in the audience for Jay's talk as well. With two visionary employees giving the two opening session presentations, it appears that the LDS Church is looking closely at the role of technology within genealogy!
The conference brochure lists 196 presentations, seminars, workshops, luncheons and the banquet dinner on Friday. The topics will include many society-specific presentations (most of those on Wednesday with a few exceptions), ethnic research (Jewish, Spanish, German, Acadian, Scots-Irish, British and more), researching occupation records, voting records, Revolutionary War records, Civil War records, religious records, family health history, and DNA. The speakers represent most of the best-known genealogy lecturers of today.
All in all, this year's conference looks like it will be bigger and better than ever. Of course, being in Salt Lake City almost guarantees a large attendance.
These major, multi-day conferences are always expensive to attend and this year's FGS conference is no exception. The "early bird" registration fee for all four days is $159 if you register before July 26. If you procrastinate too long, you will have to pay $189 after that date. If you cannot attend all four days, single-day registrations are available now for $81 a day but will be $95 a day if purchased after July 26. In addition, the various luncheons cost $19 each and the dinners are $30 each.
Salt Lake City weather is generally great in September, with temperatures in the 70 and 80s. I know from past experience, however, that the climate inside the conference rooms is radically different. These places seem to crank the air conditioning to "maximum cold." You'll want to bring a jacket or sweater to the conference location, even on the hottest days.
The Marriott Salt Lake City Downtown at http://marriott.com/property/propertypage/SLCUT will serve as the host hotel for the conference with rooms available at $109 per night, a big discount from the normal price of $179 a night. High speed Internet access is available for an extra fee. Internet service must be requested at the front desk at check-in.
The Radisson Hotel (formerly known as the Prime Hotel) at http://www.radisson.com/ and the Best Western Plaza Hotel at http://www.bestwestern.com also have room blocks available at special rates for the conference. The Best Western Plaza Hotel offers free high-speed Internet access in all rooms. The Radisson Hotel lists wireless Internet access available. Be sure to let the hotel know that you are registering your room under the "Federation of Genealogical Societies" contract.
I would suggest you make your hotel reservations now, especially if you want Internet access. These rooms will be sold out long before the opening day of the conference.
You can learn a lot more about this year's FGS Conference in Salt Lake City at http://www.fgs.org/2005conf/FGS-2005.htm.
Mark the dates on your calendar: September 7 through 10. If you can be in Salt Lake City at that time, you will enjoy this conference.
I wouldn't miss an FGS conference. Will I see you there?