Genealogy conferences are fast becoming a great way for researchers of all levels to learn about new resources, new tools and publications. These events provide networking opportunities for those searching either the same names or same geographical locations. The speakers are experts in their field and provide essential information for conference-goers interested in those topics.
While there are international conferences on a major scale running from three to six days, there are many one-day seminars of local importance. There are also excellent regional conferences. One of the best regional conferences is the annual Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS) Jamboree, which will be held June 27-29, 2008.
I was honored to take part in the 2007 event, and presented a program on how writing for a general readership on genealogy helps to open that audience's eyes as to the possibilities of family history research and encourage them in gathering information on their unique histories.
Readers who live in Southern California might want to attend the 2008 event - some 1,000 people were at the 2007 conference - it is one of the largest regional events in the US.
The Southern California Genealogical Society, estabished in 1964, has a library of some 35,000 volumes, one of the largest collections in the southwestern U.S. The non-profit society is entirely supported by volunteers.
Its collection includes Alabama records, New England Historical Genealogical Society series, Pennsylvania archives, French Canadian records, German Genealogical Society of America volumes, Genealogical Society of Hispanic America Southern California chapter, Los Angeles City Historical Society, Cornwall England collection, Massachusetts town vital records, Connecticut vital records, passenger lists, Confederate veterans and sources for every U.S. state.
Among SCGS special interest groups are the French-Canadian Heritage Society of California and the Germanic Research Team and German Interest Group, both with specialized research collections.
The SCGS research team offers specialized research for a nominal fee. Major material collections include Revolutionary War (40 volumes), American Colonial War, Massachusetts Town Records, Los Angeles County, German and French-Canadian, Colonial Virginia, Cornish Records and California Gold Rush records.
Some 44 speakers were featured, and special topic tracks included Creole heritage (Creole Heritage Center and the French-Canadian Heritage Society), DNA in genealogy, software and technology, and also featured a day-long family history writer's conference. The vendor room was packed with booths selling books, while major genealogical subscription websites offered free access to attendees.
Roots Television interviewed speakers and attendees. Go to the website to see the video interviews.
The conference includes a technology center with free access to many for-fee subscription sites, such as Ancestry, Footnote and others. The vendor room was filled with many of the "names" in genealogy, including DNA and genetics, specialized ethnic societies selling books and publications and much more.
Among major conference speakers were:
Megan Smolenyak Smokenyak: Tracing your roots with DNA, and finding lost loved ones through reverse genealogy.
Loretto Dennis Szucs: Finding naturalization records and ethnic origins.
Colleen Fitzpatrick: Deciphering clues in old photographs and explaining DNA to researchers who are not scientists;
Bennett Greenspan of Family Tree DNA: 2007 DNA Update.
Leland Meltzler: Using websites, breaking through brick walls, using tax records and finding the women in your family.
Beau Sharbrough of Footnote.com: Genealogy in 2020.
Drew Smith: The organized genealogist
The last day of the 2007 event featured the Family History Writers Conference with a great line-up of genealogy writers who covered journaling, writing a literary family history, uncovering past lives and publishing.
Conferences produce syllabus volumes (looseleaf or bound) containing resource materials submitted by each speaker; this event's bound syllabus contained 242 pages of information. These are always valuable for future reference.
Do let me know if you have recommendations, comments or need more information. I'm always happy to read your comments and answer your questions.