Why Attend Genealogy Conferences?

I left Sacramento, CA, on Saturday, and arrived in Grand Rapids, MI, on Monday. That’s NINE states in THREE days! California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. Thirty-two hours behind the wheel to travel about 2,400 miles. Some of you would probably call me crazy. I get it. Why would anyone travel so far, by car mind you, to spend four days sitting through genealogical lectures from 8:30 in the morning until 5:30 in the afternoon?  In one word: Passion.

I was having dinner in the hotel tonight with a fellow genealogist, who is also a friend and newfound cousin, when our waiter asked a similar question. What do you do at a genealogy conference? First, we talked about the passion genealogists have for learning about their ancestors. We explained that genealogy is much more than dates and places. It is about discovering the life lived in those places, between those dates. It’s about “the dash.”  A favorite song by Scotty McCreery explains this idea. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSTY9NZvBfI

Genealogy conferences, such as the NGS Family History Conference, give those with a passion for genealogy an opportunity to learn from experts in the field, to improve their research techniques, to explore records they may never have heard about before, and to network with others in the genealogical community. Sometimes we find cousins we never knew we had. Other times we may find that elusive piece of the puzzle which could complete the picture of an ancestor’s life, allowing us to break through the brick wall in our research.

Ancestors are waiting for us to uncover their stories. I often feel like mine are guiding my research, leading me to the records they left behind. This week I will learn best practices and discover new resources. I can’t wait to get started!


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