At the beginning of the year I made my genealogy New Year’s resolutions. It was a list of things I wanted to accomplish over the next 12 months. Near the top of the list was “attend a national conference.” When I wrote it down last January I honestly didn’t know if it was going to happen, but I was going to do my best to attain this goal.
FGS came into my focus as a conference I wanted to attend this year for the sole reason of it being held in Indiana. My home state. The state of my ancestors. The place I have talked about incessantly over multiple blogs. How could I not try to get there? To me it made sense that I could visit family, attend a conference, and, oh I don’t know, get some good Indiana research in.
My one wrench was that I had to take my boys with me. My husband could not guarantee that he could come with me or stay with the kids at home. I spent months trying to find plan B, C, and D. Finally my dad said that he and mom would come too. They actually said it sound like a great conference and wanted to learn more about what I do. Oh, and they could visit family too.
I will admit that I was not keen on paying full admission for my two school aged children, but I needed to have conference badges for them so they could attend the conference and other activities with me and my parents. Finally I broke down and wrote to the FGS committee and asked if there were student discounts. Imagine my surprise when I was told they were working on it, and then several weeks later I received a notice that there were indeed going to be student discounts. Thrilled that not only could my kids, but students in general, could now attend this conference at a discounted rate.
Now, what about the conference? Wow, just wow. Remember, this was my first big conference for genealogy. I have only attended one conference before in my life and it was nothing like this. In the genealogy field I have attend a couple of online conference and small seminars but nothing on this level. Where do I start, how do I explain the deer in the headlights look that I had? Why don’t we take it day by day and experience by experience?
The evening social was great. I meet up with people in the flesh whom I have only ever seen online. Received advice on my work, things I could do in the future, plus had a great time just hanging out with people who understand me. I am sure you can relate. With the world of genealogy the way it is now many of us become great friends online, but we never actually meet in person. Sometimes, it is just great to sit down and have a personal connection with someone.
I thoroughly enjoyed many of the lectures I attended (you can see a day by day run down on my personal blog) and wished I could have seen more. There was just not enough time to do and see everything I wanted to. This means I broke down and ordered some of them as MP3s so I can listen and re-listen to them at my leisure.
The exhibition hall was huge, well at least to me it was. Setup in a nice manner, lots of space, and of course the media hub was a great place for me to escape and blog. Wish they had the media hub WiFi going, but I limped along with my mobile hot spot when I needed since my iPad wasn’t connecting well to the conference center WiFi. The vendors were friendly, helpful, and downright amazing to talk to. Particularly since they all gave me the “been there done that look” when my youngest announced he was done.
Speaking of kids, I will admit that I was a bit concerned about the reaction I would receive with two school aged children in tow. I am happy to report that I had only one negative comment in three days. One! I had braced myself for a bit more. Quite a few people came up to me and told me how happy they were to have them there. Comments like “get them while their young” or “isn’t it great they love this too” were common. This was very inspiring and uplifting to me since I have been on the receiving end of reverse ageism quite a few times. You know the look or comments of “aren’t you a bit young to be doing genealogy research?” I am very thankful no one said that to me in front of my children. It may not have been pretty.
Of course, my parents got a kick when people would congratulate them on a job well done getting their daughter to attend a genealogical conference. With a smile they would look at the person, chuckle, and then say they were only tagging along. With pride they told quite a few people this was my thing and they are supporting me fully in it. Gets ya doesn’t it?
Of course, I did spend not nearly enough time at the Allen County Public Library. This of course means I need to schedule another trip “home.” I say “home” because Fort Wayne is four hours from my family. It is going to take months for me to go through all the information I gathered at the library. In addition, I cannot stress enough how wonderful this institution is. They were ready for the onslaught of genealogists, friendly, helpful, and amazing all around. Tip for those who go in the future: the copy machines will take thumb drives and then scan the image directly to them. Bring them and save a tree!
If you can’t tell, I could go on and on. I am so thrilled that I attended this conference and cannot express in a short amount of time the amazing amount of knowledge, experience, and amazing things that I picked up while there. If you can ever, ever, make it to one go for the experience. My parents are already asking if we will go again next year.