A great way to learn about genealogy is to attend a major event where announcements are made regarding new resources and databases, authors hold book-signings and vendors show off new software or important updates.
The name of the game is networking with research colleagues and international experts. Each event covers programs in many categories or focused on a single region (Eastern Europe) or subject (computers). Some are aimed at professionals, and many schedule beginners' sessions.
From two days to an entire information-packed week or longer, they attract ever-growing numbers of participants. In 2007, events will take place in 22 U.S. states, Toronto, Montreal and British Columbia in Canada, as well as London and even two cruises devoted to family history.
Here are some upcoming meetings; click on each website for more information.
If technology is what interests you, there are two annual conferences in March, so you can plan for 2008:
Carl Sandburg College (Galesburg, Illinois) will hold its Genealogy Computing Week in March 2008. Classes - limited registration - are held in state-of-the-art computer labs. The just-completed week offerd such topics as Deedmapper (working with land records), online military research; promoting, publishing and preserving your research; online Swedish church and vital records; using Ancestry and more.
The Computerized Genealogy Conference at Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah), in March 2008, is designed as a how-to guide for everyone - beginner, intermediate and advanced. The goal is to help everyone learn how new computer programs and advancements in existing programs can assist in genealogy and family history work.
This year's 10th event featured such speakers ias Dick Eastman of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and Alan Mann of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, in addition to representatives introducing new Mormon family history databases and programs.
On the other side of the Big Pond, in London, the Society of Genealogists will present its three-day Family History Show and Who Do You Think You Are?, from Saturday, May 5 - Monday, May 7. Some 15,000 visitors are expected, including family historians, military history buffs, and those interested in house history, historical travel and other topics.
The exhibitor area will feature: the Society of Genealogists' Family History Show; The Family History Zone for everyone from novice to advanced historian; The Military Zone for military memorabilia, information and specialist products; House History Zone - resources to research homes and buildings; Lifestyle Zone - where fashion, work and sport history come together; and the Historical Travel Zone - special interest destinations every historian wants to visit.
A major US show is the National Genealogical Society annual event, this year set for Wednesday, May 16 - Saturday, May 19, in Richmond, Virginia. Co-hosts are the Virginia Genealogical Society, the Fairfax Genealogical Society and the Genealogical Research Institute of Virginia. The event brings together genealogists and family historians from around the country and beyond.
The Quebec Family History Society is celebrating its 30th anniversary with the largest English-language genealogical conference ever held in Quebec. Roots 2007 - An International Conference on Family History Research will take place from Friday, June 15 - Sunday, June 17 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Well-known speakers will discuss all aspects of family history research, computer demonstrations and a book fair.
The Federation of East European Family History Societies' conference is called "Access Your Ancestors: One On One Will Get It Done," and takes place from Thursday, July 12 - Saturday, July 14, in Salt Lake City, Utah. This year's event features individual consultations by appointment with experts and Family History Library staff. Thursday evening's event will be "Got Culture? See, Hear and Experience Your Ethnicity."
The 27th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, the premier event of the Jewish genealogical world, runs from Sunday, July 15 - Friday, July 20, also in Salt Lake City. It is hosted by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, and always includes announcements of major resources and new databases.
This year's event offers some 100 speakers and 200 program sessions of all types, networking with international researchers and experts, a film festival, breakfasts with experts, computer training workshops, photographic exhibits, a resource room, meetings, luncheons and programming for many special interest groups (regional/topical), vendor room, tours and the extensive resources of the Family History Library.
Program categories include: Eastern/Central/Western Europe; Eretz Israel (pre/post-1948); Genetics/DNA; Holocaust; immigration/naturalization/migration; Jewish history/sociology; methodology; Sephardic/Mizrahi; non-European (e.g. India, China); photograph/document preservation; rabbinic research; repositories; South/Central America; technology/Internet resources; U.S./North America (includes specific locales) and Yiddish theater/Jewish music.
At last year's 2006 conference in New York City, more than 1,400 international participants attended 280 programs.
Designed for advanced, experienced researchers, the National Institute on Genealogical Research takes place from Sunday, July 15 - Friday, July 20 at the National Archives in Washington DC and College Park, Maryland. It is designed as an intensive program offering on-site examination of federal records.
This year, the program focuses on commonly used immigration, military, land, cartographic, African America and non-population census records, and includes presentations on lesser-known but useful federal records. One day will be at Archives II in College Park, with optional evening sessions at the Library of Congress and the DAR Library. With limited enrollment, this popular event sells out months in advance.
Does your family include Germans from Russia? Then you might want to attend the 37th International Convention of Germans from Russia Heritage Society , Thursday, July 19 - Sunday, July 22, in Bismarck, North Dakota. Planned are workshops on genealogy, customs, history and using today's technology.
The Federation of Genealogical Societies conference is set for Wednesday, August 15 - Saturday, August 18, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. This year's theme is "Meeting at the Crossroads of America."
I promised you a genealogy-themed cruise - there are really two!
The Third Legacy Genealogy Cruise, sponsored by the Millenia Corporation (Surprise, Arizona), will sail on the Carnival Spirit from Vancouver B.C. to Hawaii (Kona, Kauai, Hilo, Maui, Honolulu) from September 19 - October 1. The event focuses on Legacy Family Tree software and other Millenia products with expert Geoff Rasmussen and other speakers, including Dick Eastman.
The Third Genealogy Conference and Cruise www.WhollyGenes.com/cruise.htm, hosted by Wholly Genes, Inc. (Columbia, Maryland), will set sail from October 28 - November 4 on the Caribbean Princess. The event attracts more than 400 family researchers who learn about research methods, tools, techniques and software from a list of prominent experts.
Onboard experts will include John Grenham (Ireland), John Titford (U.K.), Dick Eastman, Hank Jones, Megan Smolenyak Smokenyak, Cyndi Howells, Sandra Hewlett, Robert Charles Anderson, Marcia Hoffman Rising and Tony Burroughs.
Do you have a question about genealogical conferences or want to share your experiences at these events? Do you want to inform fellow readers about other conferences? I look forward to reading your comments.