Conference Waffling

I thought long and hard about attending the 2011 FGS conference (Sept. 7-10 in Springfield, Illinois); there were a lot of very interesting classes, and it is smack-dab in the middle of an area I’m currently researching intensively for my maternal lines. I toyed for several days with the idea of volunteering to off-set costs or even doing a cross-country road trip to stop in ancestral places along the way in order to do research or photograph far-flung cemeteries. But in the end, I had to admit that it just wasn’t within my budget this year. I can hope and plan for the next year, but I was better off looking for conference options closer to home.

And what can get closer to home than an online conference? FTU’s Virtual Conference  (Aug. 19-21 at your computer) caught my eye with its variety of classes, but especially the very attractive option to stay home in my jammies and drink my tea while I participated in them. Even better, there was no having to choose between sessions (the most difficult part of conferences, in my mind!) – they are all available as recorded options to be reviewed later if you want to watch them all. The more I looked into it, though, I realized that the classes just weren’t a good fit for me – and that leads me to a key conference choosing lesson:

  •  Don’t attend a conference  just to attend and network, fun though that is. If you’re trying to choose between conferences, really consider the sessions – are they going to further your knowledge or research? If it’s something you are already familiar with or many of the classes are in areas outside your interest, think long and hard about if it’s worth the time and expense.

The above consideration is what finally had me decided against the FTU conference. It’s a great option for a beginning researcher or one that’s interested in getting started in overseas research, but that’s not me. My American roots are older than the Constitution and I need help in certain areas that’s just not being offered in that conference. So, nice conference, but not a good fit for me. I do encourage you to look into it, though, there are some great classes being offered with the ultimate convenience.

I kept searching, and I was rewarded with finding the perfect conference for me – close to home, low in cost and with the perfect sessions addressing my needs: Utah Genealogical Association’s first annual summer Family History Conference (Aug. 19-20 in Salt Lake City, UT). I attended a UGA conference once before, and the classes at that time were generously free; this time, I’m getting a whole weekend of top-tier education for only $20. I chose classes in areas I’m very unfamiliar with, or that will help me in developing professionalism as I work towards certification: Perfecting Research Skills, Evidence Analysis I and II, Genealogical Charts, Writing Quality Research Reports, and three classes on Mid-Southern state research resources. For fun, I’m also taking ‘Murder, Mayhem and Small Town Tragedy’ for the range of sources used to put together the story, but also just because the story sounds fascinating. I’ll let you know how they go!

Though the conference starts Friday, I plan to head down early so I can log a couple days of research at the Family History Library. It will only be my second visit, and I have so many things I’m working on, both for myself and for the local historical society, that I will need to really think about what I need to do and budget my time carefully. I’m very excited, and I can hardly wait to get in the car and go!

Are you attending any of these conferences? Have others I missed? Leave a comment and let me know!

© 2011, copyright Genealady & JustFolks

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