Genealogy conferences are not only for experienced researchers. If you are just starting out, consider attending a regional event.
The just-concluded 40th annual Jamboree of the Southern California Genealogical Society is a completely volunteer-run event providing an excellent experience for researchers of all levels. Their team does a great job in providing the right mix of expert speakers, diverse topics and technological innovation, along with a good dose of creativity in out-of-the-box thinking.
More than 100 speakers presented sessions; there were seven programs at each time slot, and more than 1,500 researchers of all experience levels attended, making it one of - if not the - largest regional US conferences. the 400-page syllabus included speaker bios and session handouts, and was also available on CD.
This year, some 35 genealogy bloggers attended. Eight of us were on the second annual Blogger's Panel offering our own perspectives on blogging in general, and on genealogy blogging specifically.
PHOTO: From left, Lisa Louise Cooke, Dick Eastman, Schelly Talalay Dardashti, DearMyrtle, Craig Manson, the mystery Ancestry Insider, Leland Meitler, Steve Danko and moderator George C. Morgan of The Genealogy Guys.
The double session panel fielding questions and answers about genealogy blogging, while bloggers in the audiernce tweeted and blogged in realtime. Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings.com posted some 87 tweets over the course of the session; others posted photos of the panelists as we spoke.
Many speakers were interviewed for video or audio podcasts. I was interviewed by Drew Smith and George C. Morgan of The Genealogy Guys, and also by Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems..
Friday morning offered a Kids Family History Camp - a free beginning genealogy session for kids aged 8-16. More than 85 young people attended this year."
As just one example of a typical time slot - from 3-4pm on Friday - here's what you would have had to choose from:
- Arlene Eakle - "Is Your Genealogy Already Compiled?"
- Tony Burroughs - "The Nature of Genealogy."
- Wendy Bebout Elliott - "Buried Treasure: Lost in Print"
- Cath Trindle - " Online Research for California Research"
- David E. Rencher - "FamilySearch Indexing Project Update."
- Betty Lou Malesky - " Writing Your Research Plan."
- Michael J. Leclerc - "NEHGS Resources for British Research"
This sort of intensive programming took place every hour from Friday afternoon, all day Saturday and most of Sunday. Fortunately, many sessions were recorded, making it easier. to choose.
A very popular destination was the vendor's exibit room, which included the technology center featuring subscription websites with free conference access.As a seat became vacant, it was quickly taken by another attendee. It was a great way for conference-goers to see what these databases offered for their quests.
Major websites also had booths, such as Footenote.com, FamilyTreeDNA, Ancestry, World Vital Records and others, while there were booths selling books, printed chart, various software packages, genealogical society exhibits.
Attendees were networking all the time;at breakfast, lunch and dinner; between sessions and after-hours.
The bottom line was that this was an exciting, educational event, and we are already looking forward to next year's conference, June 11-13, 2010 in Burbank, California.