Sunday, 3 August 2014

Genealogy Conferencing, You have to do it!

Having just come off the 5th Unlock the Past Genealogy and History conference aboard the Marco Polo I am still living in buzzing world of things found out, new potential areas of research, lots of addresses of new friends and so much more. 

5th Unlock the Past cruisers aboard the Marco Polo 2014
Being with a whole group of people who enjoy researching family history, who talk about new resources, who get excited for you when you tell them about your record finds and who suggest ways of breaking down your brick walls is a fantastic experience. Being part of this atmosphere gives a lasting buzz better than any drug, even better than chocolate!

There are many conferences and seminars from the big conferences lasting four days to ones all the weekend to one day meetings to single lecture offerings.  Many family history societies have a talk at their monthly meetings, quite a lot of libraries now also have a seminar program (and if yours doesn't why not suggest it to them?) and the bigger conferences are often advertised in family history magazines such as the UK Family Tree magazine and online at GenEvA (Genealogical Events and activities).  In the USA there is Dick Eastman's calendar  among other.

In Australia there is the Unlock the Past site which lists events. August is Family History Month in Australia and New Zealand and there are many events listed there by state and an online category.

If you haven't attended a genealogy/family history conference because you feel a little unsure there is no reason for this as family historians are a friendly bunch but if you don't want to go on your own to an event why not bring a friend?

If you are on Facebook (and there are many, many genealogy groups there) ask about what conferences are occurring. Or once you have picked one ask if anyone else is going so you already have a friend there you can meet in person or even travel together.

It is one of my joys in going to conferences in meeting in person my online friends. Also for the big conferences such as RootsTech in Salt Lake City in the USA there is often a Facebook group of people and bloggers who go and we talk about our preparations for the conference, what we are packing and any new tech toys we have found, the best restaurants at which to eat and any tips we have found.

Joining your local society (even if none of your ancestors lived in the area) means you would always have friends interested in going and even more important interested in your genealogy wins throughout the year! Many societies go as a group sharing a car or coach.

Once you decide to go there is generally an Early Bird registration which will save you some money. Booking early for hotels can also be beneficial if you want to stay close to the venue. Sometimes the conference organisers can get special deals for the hotels but these do tend to book out quickly.

You will be able to get a program of what is on, with synopses of the presentations so you can plan your days. We are seeing more of the big conferences with apps so you able to have it on your phone or tablet and which can even give you reminders about the lecture starting in ten minutes with the synopsis and presenter bio information.

Exhibition Hall Who Do Think You Are? Live Feb 2014 London
Another great reason for going to conferences apart from the actual lectures and being with all the like-minded people is the exhibition hall. You will usually find genealogically related items for sale, family history group tables where they often have look-ups available in their databases (often free) and items such as indexes for sale. You will often also find experts in an area of research that may be able to help you break down that brick wall.

Unfortunately I have to go home before Who Do You Think You Are? Live in Glasgow in August but I will be at RootsTech and FGS in Salt Lake City in February 2015 and at the Australasian Congress in Canberra in March 2015 along with a range of other seminars.

I hope to see you at some of these events and do please say hello!


  1. I hare your love of conferences - I'm looking forward to the 6th Unlock the Past Cruise in October.

  2. I have to miss that one unfortunately but any conference is good because of the people you meet and all the possibilities that arise for learning, research, etc.

  3. Looks like many of us who contribute to this blog intend to be at Rootstech 2015. Maybe it will be the opportunity we need to have a real collaborative post on this blog if that is possible. I will be happy to use my post that month on 12th Feb 2015.


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