Next week I’m off to Springfield, Illinois, for the 2011 Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) national conference. The conference runs from September 7-10 and the theme is Pathways to the Heartland. The local host is The Illinois State Genealogical Society. You might want to check out their informative FGS Conference News Blog.
I haven’t attended a national conference in a few years and I am very much looking forward to this conference. The last national conference I attended was the 2007 FGS Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana. This coming week promises be fun and busy, networking with other genealogists, attending sessions, shopping and learning in the exhibit hall, and taking in the Lincoln sights in the area. In addition, I will have a week off work.
My friend (and editor) Miriam and I have been attending state and national conferences for over ten years now. Our rule is that we will attend a national conference if it is less than an eight hour drive. It should take us about six hours to get to Springfield. We always drive to a conference and I guess eight hours is our driving limit. Flying to a conference is out of the question because neither one of us can travel light. We have tried to pack minimally but have never succeeded. Add to that the items that we purchase at the conference (mostly books, and lots of them) and our car is always loaded down, going and coming.
The first national genealogical conference that we attended was the 2001 FGS conference in Davenport, Iowa. We were driving to Davenport on 11 September 2001. I know that everyone remembers the tragic events that occurred that morning. We did not have the car radio on and we did not know what was happening until we stopped mid-morning at an Arby’s for a break. After much deliberation we decided to continue on to the conference, not knowing if they were still going to have it or not. The conference was not canceled but some of the speakers could not get to Davenport because all planes were grounded. However, other speakers stepped up and filled in for those that could not get there. The FGS conference committee did a great job to make the conference a success. Genealogists are a great group of people!
I have other memories of Davenport. How could I forget waiting in downtown Davenport on Saturday night for AAA to arrive and fix our flat tire. I remember Robert, our tire professional, who put a refurbished tire on the rim about 9:00 that evening. He cautioned us to not drive much over 45 mph and to drive close to the berm on our way home, making us wonder about the quality of the tire. We stashed the blown-out tire in the back seat of our already packed car (to prove damage for the warranty). We finally made it home safely the next day after driving at a snail’s pace. All in all it was a very good conference and I knew that I wanted to attend others whenever I could.
Since FGS in 2001 Miriam and I have attended NGS conferences in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, and Nashville, and the 2007 FGS Conference in Fort Wayne.
We have a busy week ahead of us. Miriam and I want to visit some of the Lincoln attractions while we are in Springfield. I plan to attend An Old Fashioned Prairie Social, the ISFHWE Luncheon, the FGS 35th Anniversary Celebration, and help at the BCG booth. There are many, many sessions to chose from. Wednesday’s sessions focus on societies. Some of the sessions I plan to attend: Researching WWII, Search and Research on FarmilySearch, Court Records, Reasons for Not Serving in the Civil War, and of course some of the tech sessions. The final session I plan to attend is titled “Where Do I Go From Here?” and is scheduled for late Saturday afternoon. That topic seems very appropriate for the end of a conference.
I also plan to attend a couple get-togethers with the GeneaBloggers. As of this week, I am now on the GeneaBloggers’ roll. Maybe you noticed the GeneaBloggers’ logo off to the right on my home page. It will be fun meeting up with other bloggers.
I think I am just about ready to go. I have downloaded and printed my syllabus materials and I have also loaded the material onto my Kindle. I have my family genealogy on my Droid and in DropBox. Our route is mapped out. I have started my packing list. A packing list is probably a bad sign. That means that I will undoubtedly be taking too much stuff. Oh well. After all, that’s why we are driving instead of flying.
I’ll see some of you soon in Springfield.