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Open Thread Thursday – Genealogy Conferences

open thread

This week’s topic for Open Thread Thursday is:

‘Tis the season for genealogy conferences now that Spring is almost here! If you were in charge of planning a genealogy conference – either a major multi-day national conference or a one-day event for a local genealogical society – what features would you include? Assume that you have a magic conference wand and can do almost anything – what sessions would you have? What type of exhibit hall? Technology?

Post your responses in the comments or at a post on your own genealogy blog and place the link here in the comments.


Sometimes playing “If I were the king of _______” is a healthy exercise. Not only did I do this as a child when playing “make believe,” but very often when I am challenged on a project, this “pretending” is a good way to get creative as to meeting those challenges and solving problems.

So how would I design a genealogy conference, especially if I had a magic wand and could assume total control? Here’s a look:

  • For a national conference I would choose a location that is convenient for all forms of transportation including a major airport.
  • Sessions would be a good blend of national speakers, local speakers, and even new speakers. I would want to encourage new speakers to participate.
  • Sessions that make the participants think and go “hmmmmmmm.” I want that to be one of the “take aways” from my conference.
  • Sessions would be in tracks and categorized as to levels such as beginner, intermediate, etc.
  • Use some of the recent RootsTech elements such as getting different groups to collaborate. For my conference I would like several different groups to discuss – perhaps via panels and round tables – issues such as genealogy vs. family history, citing sources, embracing technology.
  • The exhibit hall would be fun, high-tech but also comfortable for all levels of genealogy and technology knowledge. Collaboration stations, places to relax, several lounges perhaps with free massages.
  • Stream some content on the Internet. Also a virtual conference with the ability to participate as an attendee and go to sessions and talk to vendors.
  • Free parking, free wireless.
  • A vibe of excitement – so much so that attendees don’t want to leave yet they can’t wait to go back home and work with their local societies or other genealogists on some of the ideas and issues discussed at the conference.

So, what’s in your conference?


This is a great topic for this week’s Open Thread Thursday! And please, if you have a topic you’d like to see discussed among your genealogy blogging colleagues, please contact us and we’ll take it under consideration.

Disclosure statement: I am a member of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and hold the following positions within the organization: FGS 2011 Conference National Publicity Chair, Chair – Marketing & Public Relations Committee, Advertising – FGS FORUM, Member – Long Range Planning Committee, Member – Technology Initiative, Member – Membership Committee.  To review the other material connections I have with genealogy vendors and organizations, please see Disclosure Statements.

©2011, copyright Thomas MacEntee

6 thoughts on “Open Thread Thursday – Genealogy Conferences

  1. Our Spring Conference is :
    Probate,Wills, Insurance Papers and the Law and How It All May Affect Your Genealogical Research.
    Presented by Michael T Murphy, Attorney
    and Del Stevens, Insurance broker
    2 April 2011 Bonita Library Community Room
    4375 Bonita Rd, Bonita, Ca 91902
    10 a m to 2 p m
    Doors open at 9:45
    Opportunity Drawings and Door Prizes
    contact Chula Vista Genealogical Society for registration.

  2. 1.) The conference would be held in an awesomely cool location – right near airports, train stations, bus stations, etc. And we’d have free shuttles to and from the conference to the airports, train stations, etc.

    2.) Free parking and free wireless (that actually works and is strong).

    3.) Free Massages are a must – walking around all day and carrying all the bags of conference swag.

    4.) Speakers of every level, fame, and idea. Topics would include how-to topics (even those less well-known topics, such as Mexican research).

    5.) Lots of panels, roundtables, and general discussion.

    6.) The coolest lounge ever for people to hang out that included comfy couches, cool desks and tables, big chairs, etc. Lots of comfort and relaxation. And there would be plenty of free fruit and veggie waters (ie: lemon water, cucumber water, orange water, etc).

    7.) An awesome cool PJ party after hours that includes all sorts of yummy slumber party foods, drinks, and games (I feel a genealogy scavenger hunt coming on…)

    8.) Lots and lots of door prizes and raffles of super cool prizes.

    9.) Make stuff accessible to the people who can’t come through webinars, etc.

    10.) Lots of technology for every technology level – iPads, laptops, e-book readers, desktops, website developers, software developers, etc. And everyone gets to experiment and find what they like.

    11.) Outlets all over the place during lectures so that people can type their notes and not worry about their battery going dead

    Can you tell I’ve thought about this? lol

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