Why Attend a Conference

February 2, 2017

Written by guest blogger, Stacey Adger. Stacey is a trustee of the Ohio Genealogical Society and covers the Youngstown and Trumbull Districts. Stacey is also the Publicity Chair for OGS. In addition, she is a co-chair for the 2017 OGS Conference.

When I started working on my family tree fifteen years ago I was VERY green.  I knew what census pages were and how to find old newspaper articles but that was pretty much it.  I credit the patience and desire of others who were willing to share their passion with me for leading me on a journey of a life time!

One of the first genealogy conferences I attended was the OGS conference in Cleveland.  It was an amazing experience.  Over the years, I had posted queries and reached out to other researchers who graciously offered guidance.  One of those genealogists was Tim Pinnick.   I had found a member of my family who was involved in coal mining in 1870 & 1880 and found that Tim had a site dealing with African American coal miners.  We have had various discussions over the years and it was wonderful to FINALLY meet him in Cleveland. 

Attending genealogy conferences can be beneficial for a variety of reasons.  One of the most important things you learn is what is new when it comes to research, tools, techniques and materials that are out there to help you.  Wading through software programs, research methods, all aspects of DNA and other resources can be daunting.  You have the chance to learn from not only lecturers, but also from one another in small groups or one on one.  You will often find that pulling aside a fellow researcher and asking for clarification on something you just heard, may help you get more from the whole experience.

Second, networking-networking-networking is a major benefit.  You attend sessions with people from all over the country, various backgrounds and skill levels.  It is a tremendous boost to your research if you can build relationships and friendships at the conferences with people who have the same interests as you.  Being able to share discoveries, commiserate over the failures and rejoice at brick walls collapsing with someone who UNDERSTANDS (as opposed to getting that glassy eyed stare from your family when you share your latest find) is affirming.  One aspect which is also helpful is to build friendships and alliances with people who live in the general area your research takes you.   Their knowledge of that area may prove beneficial as your search progresses.  They can direct you to resources and give perspective on the community you are researching which can save you the unnecessary aggravation of wasted effort and time. 

Conferences can also help to recharge your batteries when it comes to research. Equipped with new information, ideas and a fresh perspective, you can approach your research with “fresh eyes.”  Maybe something you had looked at before needs a second glance to get more information…maybe approaching a brick wall from a fresh perspective will yield new results.  Whether you attend a one day seminar, a mult-iday conference or one of the major national conferences, your chance to grow as a researcher, genealogist and family historian awaits.  

The Ohio Genealogical Society will host its annual Conference, this year at Kalahari Resort and Conference Center in Sandusky, Ohio, April 26-29th.  With the theme, “Genealogy Gone Wild” you can pretty much expect anything!  Between a stellar slate of speakers covering a variety of topics, a steel drum band, induction ceremonies for our long standing lineage societies and the newest one, the Society of Families of the Old Northwest Territory, and many more activities, we are looking for a great time.   We are pleased to welcome D. Joshua Taylor, President of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B), America’s second oldest genealogical organization and a host of the popular PBS program, Genealogy Roadshow (www.genealogyroadshow.org), as our keynote speaker.  This is our second year back at Kalahari which is a fantastic venue in itself (www.kalahariresorts.com/ohio) and we hope you take in the sights while attending.  We have a casual dress code for the run of the conference and since this year marks the 50th anniversary of the “Summer of Love,” rest assured tie dyed items, beads and flowers in hair will be a common sight!  Co-chair, Marleen Applegate and myself, along with our hard working conference committee and the officers and staff of OGS, hope that whether you attend  part or all of the Conference,  it will be enough to have you looking forward to the 2018 gathering in Columbus.   You still have time to take advantage of early registration by logging on to www.ogsconference.org and following the pages to secure your room, register for conference and address mobility needs, if needed.   Whether you come for a day or the full run, we welcome you on what will surely be a fun journey!  There is a discount of registration if you are of member of OGS.  Fees return to their regular rate on March 11.